December 3, 2023

The Importance of Teaching Cybersecurity to a 5-Year-Old

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IT leaders can take a twofold approach to help K–12 students meet the new security challenges of remote learning.

They can proactively support students and parents in their efforts to stay safe in the remote learning environment, teaching the importance of cybersecurity. They can also shore up internal systems, processes and infrastructure to back up that learning.

Whatever they do, the reality of schools operating almost entirely online has only heightened concerns about cybersecurity — and with good reason. Some of the nation’s largest school districts have recently dealt with cyberattacks that halted remote learning, spurred leaders to postpone the first day of classes or involved the release of sensitive information.

“Instead of having everyone on one network, you have people on multiple networks, and each of those has its own vulnerabilities,” says Amy McLaughlin, CoSN’s project director for cybersecurity initiatives. “You may have an increase in fraud attacks because people aren’t there to double-check.”

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, cybersecurity was a top-of-mind concern for K–12 technology leaders. Sixty-nine percent of those who responded to CoSN’s annual leadership survey ranked cybersecurity as a No. 1 priority.

To better address cybersecurity, while also accommodating greater networking demands, districts need to be proactive about training users — even the youngest ones.