Newhall School District today announced it is among six United States K-12 public school districts awarded the IBM Education Security Preparedness Grant.
The in-kind grant was created to help school districts proactively prepare for, and respond to, cyberattacks following the FBI’s warning that nearly 60% of reported ransomware incidents in Fall 2020 involved K-12 schools.
“We’d like to congratulate Newhall School District on being selected for the IBM Education Security Preparedness Grant,” said Christopher Scott, Director of Security Innovation, Office of the CISO, IBM. “With ransomware attacks against schools on the rise, it’s important, now more than ever, that schools take proactive steps in securing their cybersecurity posture.”
“Cyberattacks are a very real threat to school districts and I commend IBM for being proactive in ensuring our schools have the support needed to combat these malicious attacks, said Senator Scott Wilk. Congratulations to Newhall School District on receiving this award. I have full confidence the district will make the most of this opportunity and diligently work to ensure state-of-the-art protocols in place to protect it from cyberattacks.”
Newhall School District was selected to receive the grant among more than 250 other school district applicants, which represented more than 7,800 schools and over 4 million students. The grant will sponsor an IBM Service Corps team of volunteers to provide NSD with a range of security services, valued at $500,000. Services can span everything from password hygiene and implementing strategic communication plans, to creating an incident response plan.
“Professional criminals are breaking in and hacking school systems. This is happening to Fortune 500 companies who have millions of dollars [for cyberdefense],” said Jeff Pelzel, Superintendent of Newhall School District. “How can you expect K-12 school districts who do not have those resources to prevent this from happening? Being awarded this grant is a major step in ensuring our students and staff will be safe while positioning our infrastructure for the future based on feedback from experts”, Pelzel added.
Incidents of ransomware are on the rise and schools are becoming more and more of a target for ransomware. With that knowledge, it is helpful to do what we can to educate ourselves, harden our network and have the knowledge of how to recover more quickly when faced with a cyber-security incident. As a small district, we welcome the help that IBM’s grant can bring, so we quickly jumped on the opportunity to apply.
Having been selected we are extremely grateful for the opportunity and the wealth of resources and knowledge that IBM can supply. In today’s world, it seems like you can never do enough to help protect yourself from cyber incidents. We are constantly hearing about an incident in the news and that is only the ones that make the news. We hope to be able to use the findings to further harden our network against Cyber-Attacks, reduce our risks, put better procedures and practices in place, and in the unlucky event of an attack, we will know how to better mitigate any damage and have an improved response. Additionally, we plan to share ideas and lessons learned to help increase cybersecurity with other local school districts.