As cyberattacks against schools are becoming increasingly common, school districts are struggling to find dedicated cybersecurity personnel.

A new report from software firm Clever surveyed more than 800 administrators and found school leaders want to foster a collaborative, team-based cybersecurity while also increasing their adoption of new security tools. However, the survey found that one in three districts ranked lack of dedicated cybersecurity personnel as their top challenge in safeguarding schools. Additionally, 50 percent of districts also reported wanting to spend more on cybersecurity than they currently do.

Overwhelmingly, school administrators said cybersecurity is something that should be a collaborative effort; however, only 17 percent reported their strategies truly reflect this team-based approach.

In terms of what school leaders are specifically concerned about, phishing and ransomware are identified as the biggest threats. The survey found that 80 percent of administrators are concerned about phishing attacks.

In addition to finding dedicated cybersecurity personnel, 89 percent of districts want to adopt new tech tools to enhance protection. Schools are most interested in new tech that focuses on identity and access management systems, data encryption, and zero-trust security models.

Schools are also interested in making sure their third-party vendors are increasing their attack exposure. Roughly half of the school districts surveyed said they had updated vendor security criteria in the past two years and 55 percent said they are planning more changes in the coming year.

In the report, Clever also highlighted recommendations for districts, including emphasizing user-friendly cybersecurity tools, establishing clear criteria for evaluating and selecting edtech vendors and partners, and mobilizing mindshare around cybersecurity by training all staff roles.

“It’s not just about technology – it’s about people too,” said Trish Sparks, CEO of Clever. “To keep schools safe, everyone involved – tech providers, admins, and teachers – needs to know cybersecurity best practices.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs