Federal Bureau of Investigation and CISA establish council to address school cybersecurity

The U.S. Department of Education and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) today announced a new federal council to improve cybersecurity in K-12 schools nationwide.

The new Government Coordinating Council (GCC) for the Education Facilities subsector, one of 16 areas of federally designated critical infrastructure, will engage the federal, state, and local governments through regular and structured communications. Responsible for collaborating with tribal governments and sharing best practices. , according to today’s news release.

Federal officials say the effort is spurred by the increasingly complex K-12 cybersecurity landscape and ransomware attacks that have shuttered schools and compromised sensitive personal information of students, educators and families across the country. It is said that it was done.

“GCC embodies our commitment to ensuring the cybersecurity of our nation’s schools,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten said in an official statement. “This effort represents a monumental step forward in formalizing a partnership between federal, state, and local education leaders in protecting critical K-12 infrastructure.”

This announcement follows the Safe Return to School K-12 Cybersecurity Summit held at the White House in August. During the event, the U.S. Department of Education and federal officials outlined plans to improve data protection practices in schools through grant opportunities, public relations campaigns, and partnerships with ed-tech companies and education advocacy groups. .

Two federal agencies coordinated the launch, but officials said technology leaders, school principals and superintendents, and a variety of state and education service agency leaders provided input into GCC’s strategy and direction. .

“The importance of protecting schools, students, and educators from cyber threats cannot be overstated. I am extremely proud of the work we are doing at CISA,” CISA Director Jen Easterly said in an official statement. “I am particularly excited today to launch the Educational Facilities Subsector Government Coordinating Council, which will play a critical role in guiding efforts to ensure safer and more resilient learning environments in classrooms across the country. It will be fulfilled.”

Although the GCC announced today is new, the executive branch’s official responsibility to protect schools as critical infrastructure has been in place for more than a decade under Presidential Policy Directive 21, according to the White House website. The educational facilities sub-sector falls under the government facilities sector, which is one of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors listed in this directive.

“The nation’s critical infrastructure provides critical services that support American society. Assets, networks, and systems that are secure, functioning, and resilient are essential to public trust and the nation’s security, prosperity, and well-being. “Strengthening and maintaining certain critical infrastructure requires proactive and coordinated efforts,” the directive states.

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