New survey shows school IT breaches increasing

CDW-G announced the results of the 2009 School Safety Index. Based on a nationwide survey of over 400 K-12 district IT and security directors, the index measures 10 indicators and four contraindicators to set a national benchmark to determine the current state of school security.

This year’s Index found that although K-12 districts are taking steps to improve network and building security, increased breaches of security caused an overall decline in physical and cyber security scores. Other key findings include:

• In the past 12 months, 55% of districts reported an IT breach, such as unauthorized user access or viruses.

• 67% experienced a physical breach such as break-ins, unauthorized persons in schools or vandalism.

• 75% of respondents rated their cyber and physical security as adequate.

• Most IT breaches originate internally, with 41% from students and 22% from staff/employees. Physical security breaches are usually caused by unidentified persons (42%) and students (37%).

• Districts’ top IT and physical security barriers—lack of budget, too few staff resources and security tools—remain unchanged for the third year.

The national cyber security average for 2009 is 22.2, out of a scale from 0-100. The Index also found that 88% of districts are using wireless networks to give students more access to the Internet and other resources, and 92% of districts are using some type of encryption to protect data. 65% of schools that do not currently have wireless networks are considering or implementing one within the next year.

Although nearly all districts have acceptable use policies that govern how networks are used, only 40% of districts said they actively enforce these policies, and 40% said they spend 4 hours or less each month reviewing questionable Internet activity.

The 2009 national physical security average, also measured on a scale of 0-100, was 32.2. The Index found a slight increase in security camera use, with 79% of districts reporting that they use cameras—an increase in 9% from the previous year. Half of all districts only use cameras to monitor outside areas, missing opportunities to view incidents inside school buildings.