New Initiative Working with Ed Tech Vendors to Address Key Cybersecurity Challenges for Schools and Districts

A new collaboration between the University of California, Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (CLTC) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED), dubbed the Partnership for Advancing Cybersecurity in Education (PACE), is bringing education technology vendors and cybersecurity experts together to "improve the defensibility and resilience of K-12 digital infrastructure," according to a news announcement. In alignment with the White House 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy, the initiative will focus on how ed tech tools manage private and confidential information, such as student health, contact, financial, and disciplinary records. 

The project will convene cybersecurity experts, ed tech vendors, and ed tech stakeholders for an October 2024 PACE EdTech Summit, to discuss "the cybersecurity of ed tech products, the benefits of secure-by-design principles, and chart a path forward for addressing product vulnerabilities that will improve the security of America's K-12 digital infrastructure."

"By uniting the expertise of cybersecurity professionals with the innovation of key edtech vendors, we can help proactively address cyber vulnerabilities before they lead to ransomware attacks that disrupt students' learning, school operations, and compromise sensitive student data," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten, in a statement. "This partnership will develop actionable insights to enhance the resilience of the ed tech sector, ensuring that our educational tools are not only effective but secure. By focusing on securing the edtech products that all school districts need for their operations, PACE can help to drive cybersecurity benefits at scale for the 14,000 school districts and the millions of students they serve across the U.S."

"We are proud to lead this critical partnership between UC Berkeley CLTC and the Department of Education. No student or parent should have to worry about their sensitive information being leaked online," commented Sarah Powazek, program director of public interest cybersecurity at CLTC. "This partnership will help protect U.S. schools by strengthening the technology products they most depend on. By collaborating with a few upstream vendors, we have the potential to help K-12 institutions better defend against ransomware attacks that disrupt school operations and compromise sensitive student data."

UC Berkeley's CLTC is a research and collaboration hub dedicated to helping individuals and organizations address information security challenges. For more information, visit the CLTC site. To express interest in attending the PACE EdTech Summit, contact [email protected].

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].