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State Kicks Off New School Cybersecurity Initiative

(Lexie Flickinger/Flickr)

Cybersecurity in schools is the focus of a new initiative from the Indiana Department of Education, and it includes thousands of dollars in funding for some schools.

The initiative aims to get schools on the same page, and more prepared, in terms of cybersecurity. Schools can apply for matching grants of up to $25,000 to build up their cybersecurity systems, and improve 24-hour system monitoring.

The department’s chief technology officer John Keller says it’s crucial, since more schools are offering more tech to students.

“80 percent or more of Indiana schools are working in an environment where every student has a device, we call it one-to-one,” he says.

The initiative also includes a cybersecurity task force, made up of K-12 technology and school leaders, to help guide professional development for teachers and staff. A handful of schools will also test a new cybersecurity course for high schoolers next school year.

Keller says there have been no catastrophic, widespread cyberattacks on Indiana schools so far, but it’s an important piece of school safety.

“Cybersecurity is a layered concern that goes across really all sectors. I mean, it’s not just a teacher thing or a school administrator thing, it’s our students, our staff,” he says.

Lawmakers made funding available for the initiative in 2017, and Keller says it’s uncertain whether lawmakers will set aside the funding again next year. But, he says the initiative could also incentivize schools to prioritize cybersecurity funding in their own budgets through the matching grants.

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