WASHINGTON – Following a push from Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chair of the Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight Subcommittee, the Department of Education announced new action to strengthen cybersecurity for K-12 schools amid an alarming rise in cyberattacks on school districts across the country. In October 2021, a nonpartisan Government Accountability Office report requested by Senator Hassan revealed that the Department of Education’s plan for threats to K-12 school was vastly outdated and did not sufficiently address cybersecurity threats. With that report, Senator Hassan led a group of her colleagues in urging the Department of Education to take cybersecurity threats more seriously, including by establishing a Government Coordinating Council to strengthen the cyber defenses and resilience of K-12 schools. Today the administration announced that step and additional actions.
“Schools are increasingly the victims of cyberattacks, putting the private information of our children at risk and costing taxpayer resources,” said Senator Hassan. “We need to make sure that schools have the support they need to not only respond to cyberattacks after they happen but to prevent them from happening in the first place. I’m pleased the Department of Education heeded my call and is strengthening cybersecurity for schools, and I will continue working on this critical issue.”
Senator Hassan has led efforts to improve communication between federal, state, and local officials, and she successfully helped pass into law her measure to create a Cybersecurity Coordinator in every state to help facilitate information sharing on cybersecurity best practices and response strategies. The bipartisan infrastructure law included Senator Hassan’s measure to create a state and local cybersecurity grant program. Furthermore, in an effort to strengthen cybersecurity within the federal government, Senator Hassan passed into law the bipartisan Hack DHS Act, which established a bug bounty pilot program – modeled off of similar programs at the Department of Defense and major tech companies – that uses vetted “white-hat” or ethical hackers to help identify unique and undiscovered vulnerabilities in DHS networks and information technology.