In this photo illustration a young man types on an illuminated computer keyboard typically favored by computer coders on January 25, 2021 in Berlin, Germany. 2020 saw a sharp rise in global cybercrime that was in part driven by the jump in online retailing that ensued during national lockdowns as governments sought to rein in the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
OAN’s Taylor Tinsley
3:56 PM – Tuesday, August 8, 2023
The Biden Administration rolled out a new array of cyber initiatives on Tuesday, to bolster defenses against ransomware attacks on K-12 public schools across the nation.
As back to school season lies just around the corner, the White House had its first-ever summit on the crisis and launched new efforts to boost cybersecurity safeguards in K-12 schools, hosted by First Lady Jill Biden, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Today, I joined @FLOTUS and @SecCardona at the @WhiteHouse to announce new actions and commitments to bolster cybersecurity & provide communities & school systems with the support & resources necessary to protect themselves, their infrastructure, & their students. pic.twitter.com/WFU0KTa8Lp
— Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (@SecMayorkas) August 8, 2023
“We need to be taking these cyber attacks on schools as seriously as we do the physical attacks on critical infrastructure,” Cardona said.
The White House said the 2022-23 academic year saw eight significant cyber attacks, four of which forced schools to cancel classes or close altogether. Sensitive personal information including student grades, medical records, home issues, and financial and behavioral information were stolen and made public, as well as sensitive information about school security systems.
According to a 2022 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Service the loss of learning stemming from a cyberattack ranges from three days to three weeks, with the recovery time anywhere between two to nine months.
The report also laid out several techniques that individuals carrying out cyberattacks use including phishing, ransomware, distributed denial-of-service attacks, and video conferencing disruptions.
“I want to strongly urge every school system and every community to take advantage of these resources and to do so with urgency,” said HHS Secretary Mayorkas. “Do not underestimate the ruthlessness of those who wish to do us harm… Do not wait until the crisis comes to start preparing for one.”
A pilot program proposed by the Federal Communications Commission will provide up to $200 million over three years to strengthen cyber defenses in schools and libraries. CISA will also provide training assessments for 300 new K-12 entities over the coming school year.
Several technology providers also committed to funding resources to districts. Amazon Web Services will be giving $20 million for a cyber grant program that’ll be made available to all school districts and the state departments of education.