Earlier this week, the White House held a summit to help schools strengthen cybersecurity programs as children return to the classroom. The Summit highlighted multiple efforts.  

The FCC announced a pilot program to expand their efforts to fund cybersecurity in schools using the Agency’s Universal Service Fund. Previously these projects were funded out of the FCC E-Rate Program but were limited to only purchasing firewalls. Since 2020, the Cybersecurity Coalition and school groups like Consortium on School Networking (CoSN) had been pushing the FCC to expand the program to enable purchase of a wider range of cybersecurity tools. This call was echoed again earlier this year and while this program is small, it is a step in the right direction. 

The Department of Education and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a new guide to help schools build their infrastructure with security in mind. CISA will be working with 300 schools to deliver tailored assessments of their cybersecurity posture. The FBI is also planning to release an updated guide and encouraged school networking officials to meet with local Bureau cybersecurity contacts as a part of their incident response planning. The agency shared a case with the LA county schools that helped resolve a ransomware attack and prevented additional damage. 

The White House also pointed to major commitments from private companies including:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) has a new $20 million cybersecurity grant program for public school districts and state departments of education. They will also be providing free trainings and analysis. 
  • Google has a new K-12 Guidebook that walks schools through how to best configure its software for school settings and other advice. 
  •  Cloudflare is offering free cybersecurity services to small public-school districts -- under 2,500 students.

While many of these programs and tools are aimed at public school districts, the government and Google guides should be valuable to independent private schools as well. These schools should also consider the FBI’s offer to meet with schools during their incident response planning.

Ari Schwartz

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