Wednesday, September 30, 2015

State auditor announces Cyber Aware Audits of Missouri schools

(From State Auditor Nicole Galloway)

State Auditor Nicole Galloway today announced the start of her cybersecurity audit initiative in Missouri schools. The Cyber Aware School Audits will focus on identifying practices that improve the security of information schools have on students and their families.

"For every parent who has provided health records to the school nurse, authorized bank debits for a lunch plan or exchanged emails with a teacher about concerns in the classroom, there are real consequences to having that information released to individuals who might seek to profit from or exploit it," Galloway said. "Parents deserve to know their children's schools have taken precautions to keep their children's personal information secure."

According to the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, in the past 10 years, more than 250 K-12 schools across the United States experienced a data breach event. Students and families affected by these incidents are at a higher risk for unauthorized access of account information, financial abuse and identity theft. In cases where social security numbers are exposed, they are five times as likely to become the victim of identity theft.

The audits will focus on the effectiveness of existing cybersecurity safeguards. Audits will review the school district's ability to detect a cybersecurity breach and the planned response for a breach, student personal information accessibility and protection, technology use policies, and student and staff privacy and security awareness training.

The following districts were selected for the first round of Cyber Aware School Audits, with additional districts to be named in 2016.

Boonville School District, Cooper County

Cape Girardeau School District, Cape Girardeau County

Orchard Farm School District, St. Charles County

Park Hill School District, Platte County

Waynesville School District, Pulaski County

"Technological advances in today's schools have simplified and streamlined processes for educators, administrators, students and parents, but these benefits also carry an increased risk of vulnerability," Galloway said. "Missouri schools must be proactive in the effort to secure student data, and Missouri students must be equipped with the information they need to protect themselves online and in our increasingly connected environment."

Since taking office Auditor Galloway has made cybersecurity a priority across all components of government, including Missouri schools. The Cyber Aware School Audits are part of an ongoing emphasis on data protection practices and keeping Missourians' information secure. The office is also currently auditing the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Missouri Student Information System (MOSIS) and the Office of the State Courts Administrator- Justice Information System (JIS).

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity and increasing protections against cyber incidents.

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