Texas District Adopts New Cybersecurity Solution

A Texas school district recently entered a partnership with ybersecurity solutions provider IronNet, Inc. to help combat an increasing number of cyber attacks against the district’s networks. The district is maintaining anonymity to protect its operational security, but it will use IronNet’s AI-based Network Detection and Response (NDR) system as well as join the organization’s Collective Defense community. The community allows organizations to collaborate in real time to identify and protect against cyber attacks.

“In our school district, we understand that PreK-12 education is the new target of choice. We have valuable data and a moral and legal responsibility to be good stewards of that data,” said the school district’s Director of Information Services. “Not only do we need to use every effective traditional cybersecurity tool available to us, but we also need to adopt new thinking. That's what IronNet brings to the PreK-12 table: something new. Real-time information combined with individualized alerts. We needed a collective defense solution. IronNet is exactly that.”

As many districts shifted to virtual, cloud-based learning in 2020 due to the pandemic, so grew the opportunities for cyber attacks and ransomware. According to a press release, K–12 schools in the U.S. reported an 18% increase in attacks, including more than 75 ransomware attacks that affected more than 1.3 million students. Microsoft Security Intelligence reports that between just Aug. 14 and Sept. 12, 2021, educational organizations around the world experienced more than 5.8 million malware attacks, accounting for 63% of all reported such attacks. Experts also predict that attacks on K–12 schools could jump by more than 85% by the end of the 2021–22 academic year.

“We were very excited to pilot this program in its early stages, and were even more excited when our administration approved the purchase so that we could maintain IronNet as one of our threat defense resources,” continued the school district’s Director of Information Services. “While nothing is 100% guaranteed, we feel confident that our network is more secure now with IronNet’s leading AI-based Network Detection and Response (NDR) solution. We hope Texas education decision makers will find it necessary to support this program as well, thus making it more accessible and affordable for school districts.”

President Joe Biden also signed the K–12 Cybersecurity Act into law in October 2021 in response to the increased number of attacks.

“School systems have become top-tier targets for cyber criminals, and IronNet is happy to be joining this fight to protect our youth. Schools hold a wealth of personal information about our children and their families, and sophisticated hackers are keenly aware that penetrating school networks has the potential to create mass disruptions that many administrators would pay healthy ransoms to resolve. At IronNet, we’re working to level the playing field by banding together schools and equipping them with our leading AI-based Network Detection and Response (NDR) solution," said George Lamont, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at IronNet.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at [email protected]