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CISA’s Cyber Vigilance in U.S. Education

In the nation’s critical infrastructure landscape, K-12 schools are pivotal, serving as the foundation for future success and playing an indispensable part in the lives of millions of children, families, and communities. Recognising the importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of students, educators, and staff, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) leads the annual Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month. This initiative aims to educate and engage all levels of government, infrastructure owners and operators, and the American public about critical infrastructure’s crucial role in the nation’s well-being and the need to strengthen security and resilience.

Digital technology has become an integral aspect of modern education, and as schools navigate the complex landscape of security and resilience, leveraging digital tools and strategies becomes paramount. The intersection of education and technology presents various challenges and opportunities, especially in an evolving threat environment that includes cyberattacks alongside more traditional hazards.

As CISA encourages a Resolve to be Resilient, the emphasis extends to the education community, urging several measures and investments in resilience. The agency acknowledges threats’ increased frequency and intensity, encompassing natural disasters, targeted violence, and cyberattacks. The call to action is clear: prepare today to withstand or recover quickly in the event of an incident tomorrow.

To address the challenges an interconnected world poses, CISA collaborates with several federal agencies and non-government partners to provide actionable guidance, evidence-based practices, and digital tools. The goal is to empower school leaders to navigate the complexities of the digital landscape while fostering a secure and resilient environment for students and staff.

One critical resource CISA offers is the K-12 Bystander Reporting Toolkit, developed in partnership with the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Centre. This toolkit equips schools with simple strategies to implement and enhance safety reporting programmes, leveraging digital communication channels to facilitate reporting and response.

The K-12 School Security Guide Product Suite, another digital resource, offers districts and campuses tools and strategies to evaluate vulnerabilities, strengthen security measures, and enhance the protection of school communities. This suite reflects a comprehensive approach to digital and physical security in educational settings.

Recognising the importance of cybersecurity, CISA’s Cybersecurity for K-12 Education provides schools with tools, information, and resources to guard against cyber actors and reduce the likelihood of successful cyber incursions. Addressing systemic cybersecurity risks becomes an integral component of school safety plans as technology advances.

Further, CISA’s Tabletop Exercise Packages, designed to examine and test safety processes and plans through simulated exercises, incorporate digital scenarios to ensure that schools are prepared for various threat scenarios, including cyber incidents. This proactive approach helps schools identify digital resilience and response capabilities gaps.

The agency’s regionally based security advisors further contribute to building resilience by providing various risk management and response services, including guidance on addressing evolving digital threats. These advisors play a crucial role in ensuring that schools are equipped to handle the dynamic challenges posed by the digital landscape.

In the digital age, where information is shared at unprecedented speeds, CISA administers SchoolSafety.gov, a Federal interagency website serving as a one-stop access point to school safety information, resources, and tools. This platform covers various topics and threats, offering a holistic approach to creating comprehensive and sustainable school safety plans.

Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month reminds the entire school community to unite in advancing safety efforts. The focus on digital resilience highlights the need for ongoing preparedness and adaptation to changing risk conditions. Throughout this month and beyond, CISA reaffirms its commitment to assisting school communities in maintaining safe, secure, and resilient learning environments in the digital era. The agency’s dedication to leveraging digital technology to benefit education underscores the importance of an inclusive and collaborative approach to cybersecurity and resilience in the nation’s schools.


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