Secretary Cardona Emphasizes Need for Cyber Security in K-12 Schools in White House Remarks

Secretary Cardona Emphasizes Need for Cyber Security in K-12 Schools in White House Remarks

August 8, 2023

Thank you to our First Lady, Dr. Biden, for that introduction and her leadership.

I’m glad to be here to discuss a very important topic: cyber security in our schools.

When we were at the height of the pandemic, it wasn’t board games that got my kids through it. It wasn’t books, or sports. 

For my son, it was his Xbox – playing Madden with his cousins. For my daughter, it was an app called Houseparty, where she could see her friends.

I mention this, first, because it shows how technology can benefit our young people.

At its best, technology can help our students avoid social isolation and connect with each other and their learning in a way nothing else can.

This also reminds us: we live in the digital age. As I always say: devices are the new pencils.

Last school year, the average number of unique educational technology tools accessed per school district was over 2500.

And keep in mind: that’s just edtech. 

Those numbers don’t even capture the social media apps students our using, or the digital infrastructure and systems our schools rely on. So when schools face cyber attacks, the impacts can be huge.

Think about the ransomware attack that led to more than 500,000 students and staff members in Chicago Public Schools having their personal information disclosed. 

Or think about the school district in my home state of Connecticut that had to postpone the first day of school for 18,000 students because a cyber attack hit a system the district used to manage school bus routes.

Think about the fact cyber attacks on schools have disrupted learning for anywhere between three days to three weeks, sometimes with months of recovery needed.

Let’s be clear: we need to be taking these cyber attacks on schools as seriously as we do physical attacks on critical infrastructure.  Schools are the infrastructure of learning in America.

That’s why, today, the Department of Education released a series of briefs on how to make sure the digital infrastructure of education is safe, accessible, resilient, sustainable, and future-proof.

We need collaboration within government to make that possible, which is why we are also committing to establishing a Government Coordinating Council as the first step in our strategy to strengthen the cyber defenses and resilience of K-12 schools.

These represent big steps forward.

Together, we can better manage the risks of cyber attacks on our schools – so we can better guarantee the benefits technology has to offer in education.

Special thanks to Kristina Ishmael and our Office of Educational Technology for their leadership on this – and for spearheading our great partnerships with other agencies.

One of those great partners is the Department of Homeland Security.  So I’m delighted to be able to introduce our next speaker, my Cabinet colleague, Secretary Mayorkas. Thank you, and over to you.