Like other under-resourced organizations, schools face cyber attacks from malicious actors that can impact their ability to safely perform their basic function: teach children. Schools face email, phishing, and ransomware attacks that slow access and threaten leaks of confidential student data. And these attacks have real effects. In a report issued at the end of 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office concluded that schools serving kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) reported significant educational impact and monetary loss due to cybersecurity incidents, such as ransomware attacks. Recovery time can extend from 2 all the way up to 9 months — that’s almost an entire school year.
Cloudflare’s mission is to help build a better Internet, and we have always believed in helping protect those who might otherwise not have the resources to protect themselves from cyberattack.
It is against this backdrop that we’re very excited to introduce an initiative aimed at small K-12 public school districts: Project Cybersafe Schools. Announced as part of the Back to School Safely: K-12 Cybersecurity Summit at the White House on August 8, 2023, Project Cybersafe Schools will support eligible K-12 public school districts with a package of Zero Trust cybersecurity solutions — for free, and with no time limit. These tools will help eligible school districts minimize their exposure to common cyber threats.
Schools are prime targets for cyberattacks
In Q2 2023 alone, Cloudflare blocked an average of 70 million cyber threats each day targeting the U.S. education sector, and saw a 47% increase in DDoS attacks quarter-over-quarter. In September 2022, the Los Angeles Unified School District suffered a cyber attack, and the perpetrators later posted students’ private information on the dark web. Then, in January 2022, the public school system in Albuquerque, New Mexico was forced to close down for two days following a cyber attack that compromised student data. The list goes on. Between 2016 and 2022, there were 1,619 publicly reported cybersecurity-related incidents aimed at K-12 public schools and districts in the United States.
As an alliance member of the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative, Cloudflare began conversations with officials from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Department of Education, and the White House about how we could partner to protect K-12 schools in the United States from cyber threats. We think that we are particularly well-suited to help protect K-12 schools against cyber attacks. For almost a decade, Cloudflare has supported organizations that are particularly vulnerable to cyber threats and lack the resources to protect themselves through projects like Project Galileo, the Athenian Project, the Critical Infrastructure Defense Project, and Project Safekeeping.
Unlike many colleges, universities, and even some larger school districts, smaller school districts often lack the capacity to manage cyber threats. The lack of funding and staff make schools prime targets for hackers. These attacks prevent students from learning, put students’ personal information at risk, and cost school districts time and money in the aftermath of the attacks.
Project Cybersafe Schools: protecting the smallest K-12 public school districts
Project Cybersafe Schools will help support small K-12 public school districts by providing cloud email security to protect against a broad spectrum of threats including Business Email Compromise, multichannel phishing, credential harvesting, and other targeted attacks. Project Cybersafe Schools will also protect against Internet threats with DNS filtering by preventing users from reaching unwanted or harmful online content like ransomware or phishing sites. It can also be deployed to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which Congress passed in 2000, to address concerns about children’s access to obscene or harmful content on the Internet.
We believe that Cloudflare can make a meaningful impact on the cybersecurity needs of our small school districts, which allows the schools to focus on what they do best: teaching students. Hopefully, this project will bring privacy, security, and peace of mind to school managers, staff, teachers, and students, allowing them to focus solely on teaching and learning fearlessly.
What Zero Trust services are available?
Eligible K-12 public school districts in the United States will have access to a package of enterprise-level Zero Trust cybersecurity services for free and with no time limit – there is no catch and no underlying obligations. Eligible organizations will benefit from:
- Email Protection: Safeguards inboxes with cloud email security by protecting against a broad spectrum of threats including malware-less Business Email Compromise, multichannel phishing, credential harvesting, and other targeted attacks.
- DNS Filtering: Protects against Internet threats with DNS filtering by preventing users from reaching unwanted or harmful online content like ransomware or phishing sites and can be deployed to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).
Who can apply?
To be eligible, Project Cybersafe Schools participants must be:
- K-12 public school districts located in the United States
- Up to 2,500 students in the district
If you think your school district may be eligible, we welcome you to contact us to learn more. To apply please visit: https://www.cloudflare.com/lp/cybersafe-schools/
For schools or school districts that do not qualify for Project Cybersafe Schools, Cloudflare has other packages available with educational pricing. If you do not qualify for Project Cybersafe Schools, but are interested in our educational services, please contact us at [email protected].