Jul 06 2023

Cybersecurity Remains the Top Concern for School IT Leaders for the Fifth Year Straight

In its 10th annual survey, the Consortium for School Networking notes that a “complexity of challenges” faces today’s leaders

Since appearing on the first Consortium for School Networking’s State of EdTech Leadership survey in 2013 as a low priority, the topic of cybersecurity has skyrocketed in importance to K–12 IT leaders. The 2023 report, released in May, revealed that among the 1,200 ed tech leaders surveyed, cybersecurity remains their top concern for the fifth year in a row.

Despite its importance, only a third of respondents say their district has sufficient resources to deal with cybersecurity challenges. Additionally, 66 percent of districts do not have a full-time cybersecurity position on their IT staff, and another 12 percent have no funding for cybersecurity defense.

Limited Budgets Make Funding Cybersecurity a Challenge

Keith Krueger, CoSN CEO, says this year’s report highlights a “complexity of challenges” that are placing incredible pressure on school ed tech leaders and their limited budgets and staff.

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The report also found that for K–12, budget constraints and a lack of resources have remained a top technology challenge for the past 10 years, which has had a direct impact on cybersecurity efforts.

“Cybercriminals have recognized that districts are data-rich and are a soft target,” he says. “That is why it’s critical that E-Rate cover modern firewalls, which is the minimum requirement for cyber protection. The recent FCC proceeding on this update demonstrated overwhelming need and support for this essential policy action.”

DIG DEEPER: Get answers to the most common E-Rate questions.

Fewer K–12 Schools Fund Broadband from Home

The report also revealed that the percentage of district-provided broadband for K–12 students has dropped from 95 percent in 2021 to 74 percent in 2022. And while 97 percent of districts report that more than 50 percent of their students have connected devices at home, only 9 percent reported that all of their students had broadband at home. This means the homework gap will persist for students in rural areas and for families without the financial resources to pay for broadband services.

Fahmi Ruddin Hidayat/Getty Images

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