K12 Cybersecurity: Protecting Our Schools

December 14, 2021
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We’re trying something new at LinkedUp! Each month we’re highlighting a recent podcast on the ClassLink blog because the information and ideas discussed are just so powerful and useful to educators they deserve a second look.

This month we picked K12 Cybersecurity: Protecting Our Schools (Episode 59).

In this episode, two of the best security experts we know, Keith Kruger (CEO, CoSN) and Amy McLaughlin (Cybersecurity Subject Matter Expert), help us understand the importance of security and provide tips on creating a more secure environment.

Here are some of the key ideas we took away from this episode:

  • School districts are targets because they are vast repositories of valuable student, teacher, and staff data. And data for people under the age of 18 is particularly valuable because they don’t have established credit histories, and bad actors can use that data to create false credit identities.
  • In Dec 2020, the first-ever joint report from the FBI, CISA, and The Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center found that over half of all the reported ransomware attacks last fall targeted K12 districts.
  • Schools can be attacked in so many ways, from phishing emails to HVAC systems that run on school networks (yes, you read that right).
  • Ramifications of cybersecurity attacks include data theft, data loss, and even loss of learning when schools shut down due to attacks.
  • Cybersecurity isn’t solely IT’s responsibility. Schools need to provide training and reminders to build a culture where all school community members are responsible for protecting schools from attacks.
  • Some steps schools can take to protect themselves:
    • Create an inventory of your critical systems
    • Use Multi-Factor Authentication
    • Create data backups and test them
    • Don’t put everything on the same part of your network (i.e. phones, LMS, security cameras, door locks, IoT devices, etc.)
    • Add antivirus or anti-malware software on all systems
    • Train everyone!

Check out the full episode on Apple, Spotify, and YouTube for all the details.

Explore Further

To help you explore this issue further, here are some related resources that we think will be incredibly helpful to your cybersecurity efforts.

Don’t forget to listen to three of our podcasts from our themed choice boards to earn 0.5 of CEU credit. Simply submit this form when you finish.


Education Leaders

About the Author

About the Authors

Jerri Kemble

National Academic Advisor



Jamie Saponaro

Director of Community & Professional Learning



Learning and always growing, Jamie Saponaro is an educator with a passion for sharing topics in education that are near and dear to her heart. Her background as an instructional strategies consultant, educational coach and mentor, technology administrator, and middle school teacher have brought her to ClassLink as Director of Community and Professional Learning where she co-hosts the LinkedUp podcast and its boundary-breaking guests.