Digital learning surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it isn’t going away with the return to in-person classrooms. After experimenting with new approaches for in-classroom, at-home, or hybrid learning, it’s clear that technology’s use will continue to evolve as a means to improve student engagement and the overall learning experience. However, as K-12 schools increase their reliance on technology and more devices connect to their networks, cybersecurity threats are also rising.
A recent study from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) found that schools may not be prepared enough for these risks. The CoSN 2021 Ed Tech Leadership Survey found that while cybersecurity was ranked as a top priority for school district IT leaders, 77 percent of districts don’t have a full-time employee dedicated to network security and over half (59 percent) don’t have a cybersecurity plan in place. One potential solution to help resource-lean IT departments is using managed services for network security.
Cybersecurity attacks, such as data breaches and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, may disrupt learning, cost schools significant time and money to repair, and impact the schools’ reputations.
The K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center, in partnership with the K12 Security Information Exchange, has been tracking publicly-disclosed cybersecurity incidents at schools. They report that in 2020 there was an 18 percent increase in such incidents compared to 2019 – translating to more than two incidents per school day over the year.