Biden Signs School Cybersecurity Bill

By: - October 11, 2021 12:00 am

Mark Lennihan/The Associated Press

President Joe Biden has signed a bill into law aimed at helping improve cybersecurity at K-12 schools and making them less vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

The measure directs the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to study the cyber risks facing elementary and secondary schools and develop recommendations to assist schools in facing those risks.

The study will evaluate the challenges schools face in securing their systems and sensitive student and employee records. The agency has 120 days to complete the review and report back to Congress. The law, which passed the U.S. House and Senate unanimously, also requires the federal agency to develop online training tools for school officials.

Schools have been hit hard by cybercriminals. Some districts have been victimized in ransomware attacks, which hijack computer systems and hold them hostage until their victims pay a ransom or restore the system on their own.

Since 2016, there have been more than 1,200 cyber incidents affecting K-12 public schools in all 50 states, according to Doug Levin, national director of the K12 Security Information Exchange, a nonprofit organization that tracks the information.

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Jenni Bergal

Jenni Bergal covers transportation, infrastructure and cybersecurity for Stateline. She has been a reporter at Kaiser and the Center for Public Integrity.