President Biden signs K-12 Cybersecurity Act to better defend schools online

Legislation drew bipartisan support from Congress as bill proponents cited the growing number of cybersecurity threats to schools
By: | October 8, 2021

President Joe Biden on Friday signed the K-12 Cybersecurity Act of 2021, requiring the federal government to examine the state of cybersecurity in K-12 schools and provide recommended actions.

The new law will result in more information for school leaders related to cybersecurity and online safety, but will require no actions or impose new requirements for state or local educational agencies.

The legislation drew bipartisan support from Congress, and bill proponents cited the growing number of cybersecurity threats to schools, including a spate of ransomware attacks as well as a significant increase in exposure to threats during the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to remote learning that made schools more vulnerable and added new challenges.

The new law requires the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to conduct a study within 120 days of enactment to examine “how identified cybersecurity risks specifically impact K-12 educational institutions,” with evaluations of challenges related to securing systems and implementing protocols, challenges related to remote learning, and the best methods to communicate cybersecurity resources and tools.

Within 60 days after completion of the study, the agency is required to issue recommendations for K-12 institutions on cybersecurity using the information gathered during the survey, with an online training toolkit to be available 120 days after completion of the study.

The recommendations are nonbinding and K-12 institutions are not required to use the tools or other information.

Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.

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