Grants, Free Resources and Other Support to Stand Up to Cyber Attacks on Schools

Grants, Free Resources and Other Support to Stand Up to Cyber Attacks on Schools

Cybercriminals beware! As we gear up for back to school season, the White House, Federal agencies, companies, and local administrators and educators are teaming up to shore up plans, resources, and protocols to help school districts across the U.S. stand up to cybercrime.

A lack of resources and infrastructure have made schools the number one target of cyber criminals. One report puts the cost of responding to a cyberattack at $50,000 to $1 million. Attacks also lead to lost classroom time, cancelled exams and school closures, not to mention the employee and student data that’s at risk.

In a recent press release, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, “Let’s face it: in today’s digital age, our students and their teachers will increasingly use technology in the classroom. Schools have access to more devices and connectivity than ever before, and this technology in education has incredible potential to help students better connect with their learning and achieve, and teachers better engage with their students, but to make the most of these benefits, we must effectively manage the risks. Just as we expect everyone in a school system to plan and prepare for physical risks, we must now also ensure everyone helps plan and prepare for digital risks in our schools and classrooms.”

To that end, Federal, corporate, and local resources are joining forces to help school districts stand up to cybercrime:

  • On August 7, the White House brought together educators, administrators, and companies to discuss best practices and resources outlined in “K-12 Digital Infrastructure Brief: Defensible and Resilient,” a publication from the Office of Educational Technology and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
  • A Government Coordinating Council (GCC) is being created by the Department of Education and Homeland Security to facilitate collaboration; coordinate cybersecurity activities, policy, and communications in schools; and support district efforts to prepare for, respond to and recover from cyberattacks.
  • The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a three-year pilot program providing up to $200 million to reinforce cyber defenses in K-12 schools and libraries.
  • CISA will assess cybersecurity at 300 K-12 entities in the 2023-2024 school year and provide cyber security training. (That’s in addition to the support already provided to teachers to incorporate cybersecurity into lesson plans and make schools safer.)
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Guard Bureau will provide guidance on how to report cyber incidents at schools and obtain support from federal cyber defense programs.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) committed $20 million to fund cyber grants for K-12 school districts and state departments of education. Applications are being accepted now. (Be prepared to describe the number of students served in the district, as well as the scope and goals of the cyber security project.) Click here to apply. In addition, AWS will provide free security training to K-12 IT staff via AWS Skill builder; free cyber incidence response assistance if a district is attacked; and free security reviews for U.S. education technology companies providing mission-critical K-12 applications.
  • Cloudflare committed to offer free cybersecurity solutions to districts with less than 2,500 students as part of its Project Cybersafe Schools. For more details and to apply, click here.
  • Google created a new K-12 Cybersecurity Guidebook providing best practices and guidance for IT administrators on how to set up and configure hardware and software to strengthen cybersecurity in K-12 schools.
  • PowerSchool committed to providing free and subsidized security-as-a-service webinars, toolkits and training to districts and schools, while D2L committed to increase access to training, launch a cybersecurity user community, and more.

While you’re waiting to learn about next steps, it may be a good time to catch up on some summer reading before the start of school:

As you focus on building your district’s cyber defenses, you can count on RBT CPAs to focus on your audit, tax, accounting, and advisory service needs. Interested in learning more? Give us a call.


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