A quick Google search and you will find a plethora of stories about cyberthreats and ransomware attacks on school district across the nation. Without linking specific incidents, here are few general articles from around the Internet:
- Cyberattacks Disrupt Learning Even More During COVID-19 (link)
- Cybercriminals Strike Schools Amid Pandemic (link)
- Schools Weren’t Ready for Cybersecurity Risks of eLearning (link)
Cyberattacks have been around for a while, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation because so many students and staff are working remotely. Ironically, their efforts to slow the physical spread of a virus, has opened their computer networks to an increased threat of digital viruses, malware, etc. More devices, accessing more networks, from more locations, many times using Wi-Fi signals that may not be password protected. This is all a recipe for bad actors who want to take advantage of the situation and extort funds.
Some in Congress acknowledge the threat. For example, today bi-partisan legislation was introduced that calls for additional guidance to help local government and small businesses protect themselves.
But the real support that is needed is financial. Schools need assistance to secure their networks, and they need the help now, not later. Congress or the FCC should step in and make sure that the resources are in place to keep our students’ data secure and their remote learning classes in session.
For a more in-depth discussion on the importance of providing support for cybersecurity, please read “Network Security And Monitoring Should Qualify For E-Rate Support”, part of Funds For Learning’s Funding Year 2021 E-rate Eligible Services List comments.