Aug 3, 2023 - Technology

Exclusive: White House will host summit to discuss rising cyberattacks on schools

First Lady Jill Biden at a National Education Association event

First Lady Jill Biden speaks during a National Education Association event on July 4. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A group of school superintendents, educators and education technology vendors will meet at the White House Monday to discuss the growing number of cyberattacks targeting schools, a White House official told Axios.

Why it matters: Ransomware continues to pummel school districts across the United States, from major cities to small towns.

  • Yet schools have struggled to fight back due to a lack of money, employees and technical resources.

Details: First Lady Jill Biden, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas will host the Cybersecurity Summit for K-12 Schools on Monday afternoon, the official told Axios.

  • Participants will discuss the ways they can work together to secure schools' online infrastructure, per the official.
  • Both government agencies and private industry are expected to announce new "commitments" at the summit, although the official did not say what those will entail while they're being finalized.
  • Representatives from the White House, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and Federal Communications Commission are also expected to attend.

The big picture: The most recent school year saw eight significant cyberattacks, including four that forced schools to cancel classes, according to the White House.

  • These attacks come at a high cost for schools: A government watchdog report estimates school districts lose anywhere from $50,000 to $1 million when responding to a cyberattack.
  • School IT leaders have started getting creative to keep their networks safe. Some are sharing threat intelligence with each other, while others are hiring third-party security operations centers to monitor their systems 24/7.

Between the lines: In the past, the Biden administration has used events like this one to stage proposals for new regulations or to make new grants relating to cybersecurity.

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