1 in 4 schools suffered cyberattacks last year as teachers bemoan lack of training

Administrators are more concerned than teachers about cyberattacks, according to a new cybersecurity survey.

Cybersecurity training for teachers appears to be lagging even as a large majority of districts are spending more to fight off ransomware and other cyberattacks.

One in four schools suffered some kind of cyberattack last year and leaders in three out of four districts plan to spend more on security and privacy in the coming years, according to a survey released Thursday by Clever, a digital learning security platform. But the poll also reveals that administrators and teachers have different perceptions of their security risks as schools integrate ever more technology and become inextricably connected to the internet.

For instance, administrators are more concerned about cyberattacks than are teachers even as most schools plan to keep using most of the technology adopted during the pandemic. Administrators, educators and students therefore all have a role in establishing a safe digital learning environment, said Mohit Gupta, who oversees security products at Clever.

“Cybersecurity is a team sport, and the differences highlighted in the survey offer us a path forward to address vulnerabilities in our schools,” Gupta added. “While the groups differ on where the risks exist, they agree on what can be done: more training for educators, the use of security tools, and increased specialized staff.”

Nearly a million students were impacted by 67 ransomware attacks against schools in 2021, costing over $3.5 billion in downtime. More than half of the administrators (63%) and teachers (53%) surveyed by Clever believe that their district is prepared to fend off cyberattacks, but one in four teachers said their districts do not provide them with cybersecurity training.

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The survey of nearly 4,000 teachers and administrators also found:

  • Teachers and administrators see devices as the greatest tech vulnerability in their district. But administrators are concerned about the cybersecurity threats against learning management and student information systems, and applications used for curriculum and instruction
  • Administrators say teachers create the most security vulnerabilities but teachers think student activity poses the greatest risk. Administrators were also three times more likely than teachers to say administrators could cause a security lapse.
  • Teachers and administrators agree the three most important ways to improve digital security are 1.) more educator training; 2.) more or better technology solutions; and 3.) more staff focused on technology.
  • Two-thirds of teachers said they want to learn more about data privacy and security.
  • Two-thirds of educators said spending on digital security will increase over the next two to three years with 12% reporting it will increase significantly. A majority of educators also report using federal stimulus funds to improve cybersecurity.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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