Rosen-Backed Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen K-12 School Cybersecurity Passes Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) released the following statement applauding Senate passage of the K–12 Cybersecurity Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation she co-sponsored. The bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to complete a study of cybersecurity risks to schools. This legislative action follows a ransomware attack targeted against Nevada’s Clark County School Districtthe fifth-largest school district in the United States.

“Malicious cyber actors are increasingly targeting K-12 schools across the United States, including the Clark County School District, the fifth-largest school district in the country, which was the victim of a ransomware attack,” dijo el Senador Rosen. “Cyberattacks can be expensive and debilitating, especially for small organizations or public entities. Schools and school districts need an immediate federal response to improve cybersecurity in Nevada and across our nation to prevent the personal information of students, faculty, and staff from falling into the wrong hands. I’m proud to see that this bipartisan legislation, which I co-sponsored, passed the Senate and is one step closer to becoming law. This bill will provide schools with tools and resources to prevent and combat cyber threats.”

BACKGROUND: los K-12 Cybersecurity Act directs DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to work with teachers, school administrators, other federal departments, and private sector organizations to complete a study of cybersecurity risks specific to K-12 educational institutions, including risks related to securing sensitive student and employee records and challenges related to remote-learning. Following the completion of that study, the bill directs CISA to develop cybersecurity recommendations and an online toolkit to help schools improve their cybersecurity hygiene. These voluntary tools would be made available on the DHS website along with other DHS school safety information.

Last year, following the cyberattack on the Clark County School District, Senators Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) sent a letter to the heads of the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), urging those agencies to provide support, guidance, and resources to schools to respond to and prevent cyberattacks.