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Following Hassan-Requested GAO Report, Senator Hassan Pushes for Additional Action to Strengthen Cybersecurity in Schools

WASHINGTON - The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report today, requested by Senator Maggie Hassan, that recommends instituting a coordinating council to strengthen cybersecurity in schools. This comes after Senator Hassan called on federal agencies to take more aggressive steps to strengthen cybersecurity in K-12 schools amid an alarming rise in cyberattacks on school districts across the country, such as the 2019 ransomware attack on Sunapee School District.

“Ransomware attacks, including right here in New Hampshire, have underscored the need for more support for schools to defend against cyberattacks,” said Senator Hassan. “As Chair of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, I’ve pushed to strengthen state and local cybersecurity, including in our schools. I am glad that today’s GAO report echoes a recommendation that I have made to increase coordination between the federal government and local school districts, and I will continue to push for this to happen.”

The GAO recommends that the Department of Education should:

  • Work with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to establish a government coordinating council to coordinate cybersecurity efforts between federal agencies and K-12 schools;
  • Develop ways to measure the effectiveness of the Department of Education’s K-12 cybersecurity-related products and services; and 
  • Work with school districts to overcome the challenges identified in the report.

In addition, the report recommends that CISA should develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of their K-12 cybersecurity-related products and services.

Senator Hassan is leading bipartisan efforts to strengthen cybersecurity at every level of government. Senator Hassan successfully secured her bipartisan amendment in the Fiscal Year 2022 defense bill that is now law to ensure that the National Guard can help state and local governments and businesses improve their cybersecurity. In addition, Senator Hassan worked to pass into law her measure to create a Cybersecurity Coordinator in every state to help federal, state, and local governments, as well as schools, hospitals, and other entities, coordinate and better protect their systems against cyberattacks. Senator Hassan also helped secure a measure in the bipartisan infrastructure law to create and fund a state and local cybersecurity grant program.