Privacy & Security

Cybersecurity Training for Educators Lagging Behind Rising Risk of Cyberattacks

By Alyson Klein — February 08, 2021 2 min read
Image shows a glowing futuristic background with lock on digital integrated circuit.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

With almost 80 percent of K-12 and college-level educators reporting that they are using some sort of online learning platform during the pandemic, keeping virtual classrooms secure seems more important and difficult than ever.

But 44 percent of K-12 and college educators say they haven’t received basic cybersecurity training, and another 8 percent were unsure if they had been trained at all. That’s according to an October 2020 survey by Morning Consult on behalf of IBM, a technology company.

The survey also found that nearly half of K-12 and college educators–46 percent–aren’t familiar with “Zoom-raiding” or “video bombing”, which is when an outsider interrupts an online lesson, sometimes using racial slurs or sexually-charged language or images.

That finding is despite the fact that many educators teaching in full-time remote or hybrid learning environments have experienced the problem. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed–22 percent–say at least one of their colleagues has experienced some security-related issues during the pandemic.

What is especially problematic from a cybersecurity perspective is that more than half of K-12 educators, 54 percent, report using their own personal computing devices for remote learning. Such devices tend to lack the same level of cybersecurity protections as school-issued computers.

What is also troubling is that more more than a third of K-12 educators say their districts have not provided any guidelines or resources to help better protect the devices they are using for virtual teaching.

Schools are prime targets of cyberattacks

Yet schools are among the institutions most likely to be targeted by hackers during this period of heightened attention on cybersecurity threats, Richard DeMillo, interim chair of the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told Education Week in a November interview.

Public institutions that have a strong motivation to protect their data are always at a higher risk, and the pandemic has increased that risk because far more school activity is occurring using digital tools.

“It’s not that the threats are changing, it’s that the risks are growing,” DeMillo said. “You should assume the more you’re doing online, the more the risks have gone up, the more serious the consequences would be if there were a serious breach.”

Overall, the IBM/Morning Consult survey found that about half of K-12 and college educators, 47 percent, are worried that their institution could be the victim of a cyberattack. Another 50 percent of educators say they aren’t very concerned, or aren’t concerned at all.

Educators are more likely to worry about external sources–such as cyber criminals– causing an attack than students. Fifty-seven percent of educators say they are “very” or “somewhat concerned” that cybercriminals could attack their institution or district, compared with 39 percent who felt the same about students.

The survey was conducted from Oct. 15 to 22 and included 1,000 K-12 and college educators, plus 200 K-12 and post-secondary education administrators. It has a margin of error of 3 points for educators, and 7 points for administrators.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Why Retaining Education Leaders of Color Is Key for Student Success
Today, in the United States roughly 53 percent of our public school students are young people of color, while approximately 80 percent of the educators who lead their classrooms, schools, and districts are white. Racial
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Privacy & Security Cyberattacks Are Up. The Feds Must Help Schools Cope, Watchdog Agency Says
The U.S. Department of Education’s years-old plan to help protect schools from digital threats needs a rethink, according to the GAO.
2 min read
Gloved hand reaching into a laptop screen hacking someone's account.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Privacy & Security Ed Tech Usage is Up. So Are Parent Privacy Concerns
Both parents and students want more say in how their personal information is used, according to a recent report.
2 min read
Privacy 11162021 1290393291
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Privacy & Security Spotlight Spotlight on Cybersecurity
This Spotlight will empower educators to begin identifying the next generation of tech leaders, and more.
Privacy & Security N.Y. School District's Facial Recognition System Remains on Hold, Lawsuit Dismissed
A law temporarily barring the use of biometric-based surveillance in New York schools supersedes a lawsuit from the state ACLU chapter.
Benjamin Joe, Niagara Gazette, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
2 min read
Girl looking into smartphone facial recognition
Getty