One in four US schools experienced cyber-attacks in 2022, survey finds

School computers and cybersecurity

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A survey of around 4,000 administrators and teachers at US schools found that 25% of administrators say their district experienced a hack, phishing incident, data breach or other cyber-attack in the past year.

The survey was conducted by Clever, a platform used by more than 70% of K-12 schools to simplify and secure digital learning.

Other findings from the survey revealed that more than three out of four school districts say they will increase their spending on security and privacy in the next two to three years.

However, while more than half of administrators (63%) and teachers (53%) believe that their district is prepared to take on digital security challenges, one in four teachers report cybersecurity training is missing altogether in their district.

“Creating a safe digital learning environment requires that everyone – administrators, educators, students – play a role,” said Mohit Gupta, Clever.

“Cybersecurity is a team sport and the differences highlighted in the survey offer us a path forward to address vulnerabilities in our schools. While the groups differ on where the risks exist, they agree on what can be done: more training for educators, the use of security tools, and increased specialized staff.”

Additional findings from report:

  • Teachers and administrators see devices as the greatest tech vulnerability in their district. Teachers (34%) and administrators (34.3%) believe that devices are the most vulnerable part of their technology infrastructure. However, administrators are more aware of potential risks elsewhere as well: they’re five times more concerned about vulnerabilities from administrative platforms like a learning management system or student information system and nearly three times more concerned about vulnerabilities from applications used for curriculum and instruction.
  • When it comes to identifying risks around human usage of technology, school administrators think teachers are the most likely source of security vulnerability, but teachers think students are. Teachers, responsible for their own safe use of technology and appropriate use by their students, see students (67%) as the biggest risk for a security incident, followed by teachers (27%). In contrast, two-thirds of administrators believe that teachers pose the highest vulnerability threat and only 19% believe it to be students. Administrators were also three times more likely than teachers to say administrators are a vulnerability.
  • Teachers and administrators agree on what can be done to improve digital security. Both groups believe the three most important activities to support security are: 1) more educator training; 2) more or better technology solutions; and 3) more staff focused on technology. Two-thirds of teachers indicated they would want to learn more about topics related to data privacy and security.
  • Yet, one in four teachers say cybersecurity training is missing altogether in their school district. While the majority of administrators and educators report that privacy and security training happens in their district, 26% of teachers say they never receive training on privacy or security – representing a big opportunity for districts to shore up their practices.
  • Increasing challenges means increased spending. 65% say their spending on digital security will increase over the next two to three years; another 12% say it will increase significantly and a majority say that federal stimulus dollars are helping support their efforts.
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