Stay Ahead of Tomorrow’s Digital Threats at SecurED Schools

Over the past two years, K-12 schools have grown more reliant on educational technology. This shift has fueled digital transformations across the country and made it easier for students to learn safely and effectively, both now and in the future.

But this shift toward digital learning as a mainstay has come at a cost – increased vulnerability to district networks and data. Many K-12 education and technology leaders are already begun taking steps to address this increased risk, but there’s still much more that can be done to stay ahead of tomorrow’s digital threats.

The best way to address vulnerability is a security posture built on the latest policies and best practices for cybersecurity and data privacy. At SecurED Schools, these imperatives and more will be on full display, with local, state, and national experts leading discussions on how K-12 districts can upgrade their security capabilities before an emergent threat takes hold.

This year’s fully virtual conference will also feature numerous hands-on presentations geared toward helping IT stakeholders comply with current state and federal mandates, including SOPPA, FERPA, and more.

That’s not all SecurED Schools 2022 has in store for you. Check out the full schedule now or take a peek below at some of this year’s most anticipated virtual sessions!

Two Days Full of Resources, Demos & Best Practices

With over 30 engaging sessions on this year’s agenda, SecurED Schools 2022 is set to be Illinois’ premier conference for fostering cybersecurity and data privacy excellence. 

This year, we’re also welcoming over 40 presenters to the virtual stage, offering you the chance to learn from the best and walk away with a vision for improving your district’s security posture.

Future Privacy: Privacy Fundamentals for Uncertain Times

Presented by Linnette Attai

The world has changed, and nowhere has that been more apparent than in school districts. In a series of seismic shifts, classroom environments and technologies used to support instructional delivery have changed and changed again, leaving many racing to stay on top of whatever comes next. Edtech evolution isn’t slowing down any time soon, raising fresh concerns about what is being lost in terms of student data privacy along the way.

Now’s the time to address these concerns head on, starting with the privacy fundamentals you already know. Join us for a chance to brush up on the basics of FERPA, COPPA, PPRA, and SOPPA while learning how these bedrock elements can support more cohesive privacy efforts, both now and in the future.

Let’s Talk About the SDPC Database

Presented by Sean Mullins

Without a doubt, the SDPC database is one of the most useful tools K-12 school districts can reach for while striving to maintain full SOPPA compliance. But despite that, many districts don’t know about the database’s lesser-known features and their ability to streamline SOPPA workflows from start to finish.

Don’t miss out on taking full advantage of everything the SDPC database has to offer! Join this highly interactive session to learn new ways to harness the SDPC database as well as get your questions answered by one of the state’s foremost SDPC database experts.

Don’t Be Left in the Dark!

Presented by Holly Kelly & Lisa Schwartz

The rise of edtech in the everyday classroom has helped students learn like never before. But along the way, staff and students alike haven’t done well when it comes to maintaining their “cyber-hygiene.” In other words, our personal data sharing habits have grown troubling lately, putting both ourselves and our institutions at risk for cyber-attack.

Fortunately, there are a few sure-fire ways to get your personal data sharing habits back on the right track. Join us to learn about a few readily available resources that can help staff, colleagues, and students become more cyber aware and keep themselves protected against emerging threats to their personal data privacy.

Register for SecurED Schools Today!

SecurED Schools is only a couple weeks away, but there’s still time to reserve your seat at any of this year’s engaging, solution-oriented sessions. At only $25 a ticket (including access to a post-conference archive of recordings and resources), this year’s conference is an affordable way to grow your professional toolkit and help your district chart a course for a more digitally secure future.

Register today and start making plans to transform the way your district handles cybersecurity and data privacy!

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) started in October 2004, and from 2009 until 2018, the theme was “Our Shared Responsibility”. This means ensuring security is a collective responsibility between corporations, governments, and citizens. This year the theme is “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” Below are 5 ways we can all take collective responsibility and protect ourselves.

Password vs. PassPhrase

Sites like demonstrate the value of longer passwords versus short complex ones.  A password like “Wave1234%” can be cracked in about 1 minute, but “wave ocean sun%” will take 18 centuries to crack! In fact, using a longer password in the form of a passphrase with the required uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation makes it more secure and easier to remember.

Use Different Passwords

Do yourself a favor and don’t repeat the same password across applications or store them in your Notes app. How can you have a different password for the hundreds of applications and sites you use? Password managers such as LastPass and 1Password are examples of a better solution. To login to the manager, the user will choose one master password. When logging into applications, your device or the program’s browser extension will supply the specific username and password. For extra security, the manager will generate long and complex passwords.

2 Locks are Better than 1

You may have heard the terms, “Two-Factor Authentication”, “Two-Step Verification” or “Multi-Factor Authentication”. At its basic level, this is an additional password in the form of a code generated through a text message, an application, or a physical device in your possession. In addition to your password phrase, you have this second layer of protection to prove your identity. Sites such as G Suite for Education, Microsoft Office 365, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have this capability. For more information, visit


If you suspect foul play, visit these sites to learn about security breaches:

Have I Been Pwned –
Firefox Monitor –

You can also use these sites to monitor and protect yourself from future incidents. If your email or password are listed, change your password on the affected site(s) and anywhere else you may have used it.

Don’t Get Hooked by a Phishing Attempt

Phishing is generally an attempt through email to get you to click on an attachment or a link to gain access to your device or login credentials. This could also be attempted through social media, texting, or even a phone call. Take Google’s phishing quiz/tutorial and click through the Show Me prompts to learn what to look for. In case of any phishing-like attempt, notify your technical support team so that they can notify others and help protect you.

More Resources

Here are some additional NCSAM resources
National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies and Homeland Security
NCSAM 2019 Toolkit

Checking the Checkboxes: NIST Cybersecurity Framework

Checklists are widely recognized as important tools for many professions. Atal Gawande, a surgeon and the author of The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, writes about checklists used in medicine and aviation to achieve better and safer results by ensuring that all necessary steps in a process, no matter how small, are completed. The checklist principle can by applied technology in K-12 schools and specifically to the area of cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity issues are regularly in the news, as illustrated by the number of incidents (681 at the time of this post) reported on the K12 Cyber Incident Map. The quantity of incidents increases each year, and it is the responsibility of the school district technology leader to ensure that either these incidents do not happen in the first place, or that the impact on people, time, and money is lessened. For many of the same reasons that medicine and aviation professionals adopted checklists, technology leaders should consider adopting a checklist like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), which provides the functions, categories, and subcategories to form a high-level checklist of cybersecurity measures needed at an organizational level. The 5 major functions of the framework are Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover and there are 23 categories and 108 sub-categories. This is the ultimate checklist for cybersecurity.

See the full NIST CSF
Google Sheet Format – 

The checklist is complex, and several organizations provide free resources to help technology leaders to understand and apply the framework. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) has a set of tools, controls, and benchmarks that can be used to help identify, protect, detect, respond and recover. CIS SecureSuite provides free membership to schools that include tools, resources, and webinars. The Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) is also available through CIS, and it provides advisories and notifications, webcasts, malicious domains/ip reports, and awareness/education materials.

Additional ways to learn about ways to begin checking the checkboxes of the NIST CSF are to attend workshops and conferences that are offered by organizations such as the Learning Technology Center (LTC), Illinois Education Technology Leaders (IETL, State Chapter of COSN), and Illinois Digital Educators Association (IDEA, formerly ICE and is the State Chapter of ISTE). In addition to learning about ideas and discovering resources, another reason to attend professional learning events is to build a network of people who are encountering and sharing many of the same experiences.

To give you a headstart, here is a checklist of items that you can use to begin the process of learning more about the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, so you can start checking the checkboxes and make an impact on your school environment.

Build Your Network

Research and Learn

Sign Up for Memberships

Attend Professional Learning Events