School cyberattacks are rapidly increasing across the country. In honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, we are shedding light on how Green Hills AEA is partnering with local school districts to strengthen their defense against cybercrime.
A cyberattack can cause a major disruption in learning for students. Districts that have endured an attack are frequently forced to close school for several days while they resolve the issue. In addition, there is almost always a substantial financial impact on the district, and potentially a risk of compromised student and staff information.
Fortunately, there are strategies to help schools mitigate threats, lessening the chance of an attack. Green Hills AEA’s technology leaders meet monthly with district IT directors to provide resources and support in a variety of areas, including cybersecurity. This year, we are offering a new service called a Certified virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) to Green Hills AEA districts. These vCISOs have undergone rigorous training and certification. So far, twenty-two districts have joined this program, which utilizes best practices to assist districts in developing a customized security program entirely from scratch or to enhance what has already been established. The vCISOs help to identify and remedy vulnerabilities, create policies, and ensure security aligns with the needs of K-12 education.
By having a strong security program and response plan in place, districts are able to provide a greater level of protection against cyber criminals, as well as minimize the impact of an attack should one occur. In response to requests from our member districts, we've created a service that will impact the privacy, safety, and security of staff, students, and families across southwest Iowa. The world is increasingly complex and cyberthreats are growing more sophisticated, schools are a target now more than ever. We shouldn’t ask our schools to make a tradeoff between learning and cybersecurity. We need to offer the best of both. Ultimately, protecting a school's technology systems and data protects all of us.
Dave Fringer, Executive Director of IT and Media, Green Hills Area Education Agency