Preparing for a 3rd Party Cyber Risk Assessment: Essential Measures for K-12 Districts

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Recent events have brought about an unprecedented change in how things go in nearly all educational systems worldwide due to the increased reliance on technology. Enhanced connectivity, easier access to diverse learning resources, and more varied instructional methods have paved the way for an entirely new learning environment. However, this has also introduced new threats to the safety and privacy of student data. Cybersecurity is no longer an optional extra but a necessity in ensuring that potential risks do not overshadow the benefits of technology.

V3 Cybersecurity, a leader in cyber risk and performance management specializing in the context of educational institutions, recognizes that securing the privacy of the students’ data should be at the top of the priority list of every K-12 district. This highlights the importance of addressing these threats proactively. To make it easier for schools to have a better understanding of what to consider, the firm shares a series of essential measures to undertake before a 3rd party cyber risk assessment:

  1. Conduct a Self-Risk Assessment

V3 Cybersecurity recommends schools to internally evaluate their current IT infrastructure, systems, and processes. This self-assessment helps identify potential vulnerabilities and areas that need improvement, which gives a clearer picture of potential risks. This visibility enables K-12 districts to prioritize remediation efforts and fortify their systems against potential cyber threats in a proactive way.  

  1. Develop Security Policies, Plans, and Standards

Next, V3 Cybersecurity emphasizes the importance of comprehensive, up-to-date cybersecurity policies and standards. Such policies and standards should align with industry best practices and cover essential areas, including access control, incident response, and awareness training. A robust framework for these policies can serve as a powerful deterrent to would-be cyber attackers and ensure that everyone in the district is on the same page regarding cyber risk.

  1. Establish a Sustainable Risk Management Capability

The need for ongoing risk management is a critical aspect of cybersecurity preparedness, which is why V3 Cybersecurity recommends that districts develop a roadmap for continuous improvement in their cyber programs. Understanding how to advance program maturity and leverage services through regional support centers or state programs will prepare districts for both immediate and future cyber threats. 

Can K-12 districts do these on their own?

While the essentials above can be done internally, working collectively with cyber experts is ideal. Taking an easier, surface-level approach may provide a false sense of security. A lack of proper guidance makes educational institutions more prone to missing out on vital points that professionals would know how to address. However, solutions like V3’s Minerva EDU provide an artificial intelligent alternative to traditional third-party assessments.

Jorge Conde-Berrocal, CEO and Founder of V3 Cybersecurity, notes: “We continue to see organizations looking to provide, or receive, an “Easy!” button. The fact is that there is no substitute for doing the work and doing it right. That being said, automation and artificial intelligence provide us with the ability to minimize low level activities and provide data-driven insights that maximize the limited resources of K-12 organizations.  We apply decades of cyber experience and thousands of real-time data points to identify actionable steps to increase program maturity and minimize IT risk.  The key to our success has been our ability to understand the constraints in K-12 and provide leading edge technology to produce sustainable results at an affordable price, something traditional service models continue to struggle with.”

V3 Cybersecurity is a team of industry experts passionate about changing the digital safety of K12 districts in the US. The team has also developed Minerva EDU, a Cyber Risk Management product developed specifically with the educational system in mind. This offers a comprehensive suite of cybersecurity services designed specifically for K-12 schools, including risk assessments, policy development, benchmarking, compliance, automation and reporting. Recognizing that deep-diving into cybersecurity is not a common expertise of a school’s IT department, V3 Cybersecurity assures that the product has an intuitive dashboard that features a simplified compliance assessment guide and a cybersecurity framework catering specifically to K-12.

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