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Cybersecurity for Education Toolkit 2.0 Connects Our School Communities

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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When it comes to making headlines, it might surprise you to know that, more and more, there are two things that are catching our attention these days -- education and cybersecurity.

More than that, these two topics are linked together tighter than Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.

Our K-12 school communities influence the quality of life we experience in our cities and towns. And, by every measure, it’s safe to say that cybersecurity is an integral part of our everyday life.

Three years ago, as we were trying to figure out how we were going to get all of our students back in the classroom while still dealing with a national health crisis, the Indiana Executive Council on Cybersecurity -- together with the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) and the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) -- created the Cybersecurity for Education Toolkit.  Filled with a wide range of best practices, tips, and resources, it was designed not just for teachers, students, or administrators.

Instead, the free-to-download guide was geared for everyone in a school community, including staff and school board members and superintendents, as well as the rest of us, regardless of whether or not you had kids in school. Knowing that many families were working from home while, at the same time, sharing space with their kids, some of whom were taking classes online, the guide served as a helpful tool to keep families secure whenever they were online.

Now, just as the school year began in early August throughout Indiana, the IECC worked closely with our partners at CISA and IDOE to produce a sequel -- Cybersecurity for Education 2.0 Toolkit.

Offering an even greater variety of easy-to-understand information, the benefits of the Toolkit are intended to build on everyone’s knowledge about cybersecurity and the importance of practicing good habits as it relates to:

  • Students protecting their schoolwork and their identity/personal information.
  • Teachers and staff managing their lesson plans while keeping their student’s data secure (including their grades and assignments).
  • Superintendents and administrators protecting their students and keeping their facilities and critical systems protected
  • Parents and families learning more about cyber with useful tips and free resources
  • School Board Members using it to help with conducting its business on behalf of the school corporation and community it serves.

Best of all, the Toolkit is formatted as a PDF that can easily be saved as a Word document to enable you to cut and paste, copy and/or repurpose all of the materials as needed to share with your colleagues at school, or as information to be provided to your students, or a family can use at home.

Among the resources that are included are the four tips from CISA that administrators, teachers and students should follow for keeping anyone who relies upon computers in your school district to be safe.

There are articles that offer cyber-friendly tips for students of every age group from elementary school to high school. There’s even a guide on how to best protect yourself on social media. And, as many people continue to work remotely, there’s list of questions to consider when setting up a network at home featured in the Toolkit.

If you’re an administrator or a superintendent, there is a wealth of trusted state and federal resources to help guide your school corporation’s approach for being cyber safe for everything from your technical infrastructure to improving your cybersecurity posture, including:

At a time when a student’s school file, with enough personal information to steal someone’s identity, is worth as much as $1,000 on the dark web, the connection between cybersecurity and education, is unprecedented and more important than ever.

In addition to the Toolkit, the Indiana Cyber Hub website offers information for teachers and students, including resources for cyber and IT internships and there’s a link to a cyber careers page for anyone wants to turn their knowledge into a full-time job.  Check it out today!