A report from the Consortium for School Networking states cybersecurity threats have become one of the most important issues facing school technology departments, with 36% of districts spending at least 10% of their technology budgets on network security, while another 31% spend 5-9% on this issue, EdSurge reports.
District technology funds are mostly spent on infrastructure, professional development, and the purchase of technology equipmen, but more money is now also being invested in network security, a trend that comes out of necessity. Data breaches like the recent one at San Diego Unified School District affecting 500,000 students, are becoming more common.
Despite the data breach trend, just 12% of districts have a designated employee to address network security issues, according to the CoSN report, and districts often outsource security or divide the responsibilities between existing staff.
Cybersecurity threats are becoming more common, and districts are now starting to take notice. The report by CoSN notes that only a few years ago, cybersecurity threats were off most districts' radars. Now, the issue is taking center stage. And though funds are tight, money used to prevent data breaches is often money well spent.
Sharing advice from higher ed, in a recent Education Dive article, Shana Bumpus, director of information security for the University of Richmond, said colleges and universities that have experienced such breaches spend much more trying to remediate a breach than it would have spent preventing it.
Schools have a plethora of information valuable to hackers in the personal files of faculty, staff, students and families. Details like social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and even health records are among the most desired. The fact that schools have less secure protection systems just adds to the problem. Students are particularly vulnerable because they may not discover their identity has been stolen for years.
In fact, children are 35% more likely to be targets of identity theft because they don’t have a credit history and their Social Security number isn’t active, according to the Division of Consumer Protection of the New York Department of State.