Jul 09 2021

Cybersecurity Tops CoSN’s Annual Ed Tech Leadership Report

IT leaders surveyed in the report name network security as a top priority but appear to underestimate the risks.

On May 26, the Consortium for School Networking released its annual EdTech Leadership Survey Report. This year’s report highlights the struggles that educators faced during the pandemic and will help the organization focus its efforts for the coming year.

Based on a national survey of nearly 400 K–12 IT leaders from urban, suburban and rural school districts, the report shows cybersecurity and student data privacy as the top priorities for respondents, followed closely by digital equity.

“Digital equity has rightly become a top concern during the pandemic, with cybersecurity continuing to be at the forefront of priorities of school system IT leaders,” says CoSN CEO, Keith Krueger.

The report also highlights evolved communication between districts and parents; budget and professional development challenges; home internet difficulties; and a lack of racial, ethnic and gender diversity among IT leaders.

77%

The percentage of districts that do not have a full-time employee dedicated to network security

Source: CoSN, “The State of EdTech Leadership in 2021,” May 26, 2021

IT Leaders Face Cybersecurity and Student Data Privacy Challenges

Cybersecurity remains a top priority, though findings indicate that, simultaneously, risks are underestimated. The majority of district IT leaders surveyed (84 percent) do not rate any cybersecurity threat as a high risk. Yet in 2020, cyberattacks against K–12 institutions rose by 18 percent, with a total of 408 incidents occurring in 377 school districts across 40 states, according to “The State of K-12 Cybersecurity: 2020 Year in Review” by K12 SIX.

The K12 SIX report also notes that a single school district lost a record-setting $9.8 million as the result of a cyberattack last year.

The seeming lack of concern regarding cybersecurity threats could stem from the high degree of confidence that 54 percent of respondents to the CoSN report have in their ability to address them, should they occur.

“Given that the FBI, [MS-ISAC], and CISA jointly stated that K-12 is the most targeted public sector for ransomware, it is surprising that district IT Leaders do not rate this risk higher,” the report states.

DISCOVER: These best practices will help stop ransomware attacks.