ST PAUL, Minn. — In a letter to parents, Saint Paul Public School District officials revealed that in February they learned someone accessed student names and email addresses in a network data breach.
They say they’re working with law enforcement and a suspect has been identified.
Cybersecurity expert Sean Lanterman from Computer Forensic Services says school districts rely heavily on technology with lots of users, and they have information hackers deem worth stealing.
“And the third thing is, public schools might not have the same resources that other organizations do when it comes to cybersecurity program,” Lanterman said.
“Some are very well-invested. Some are not. We’re looking to level that playing field,” said John Israel, Minnesota’s chief information security officer.
That’s one gap Minnesota IT Services is trying to bridge through a program called “Whole-of-state Cybersecurity Plan.” They have $23.5 million through the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program to help local cities, counties and schools.
“If we look statewide, we’ll see a wide disparity of capabilities in the cybersecurity front,” Israel said.
Israel said already about 70 entities have completely finished their applications, and hundreds more have expressed interest.
Those cities, counties and schools will receive an assessment from MNIT’s experts — as well as resources to improve their cybersecurity.
“Providing planning, funding, resources to help ensure everybody has at least foundational baseline cybersecurity capabilities,” Israel said.
MNIT is encouraging local entities to apply.
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