White House, Michigan officials push for cybersecurity protections in state schools – UpNorthLive.com

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“It is very important for us to protect the cybersecurity within our schools, to protect our students and the valuable data that the schools have,” Laura Clark, Chief Information Officer for the State of Michigan, said.

Tuesday, national and state leaders met in Lansing to discuss available cybersecurity efforts and resources to protect Michigan’s schools from cyber threats.

This comes two years after scammers targeted Grand Rapids Public Schools in a $2.8 million cyber theft.

Although about half of the money was recovered, scammers gained access to the school’s email account for the district’s benefits coordinator and emailed other employees to redirect two insurance payments totaling $1.4 million each, officials said Feb. 22, 2022.

“It’s important to be here in Michigan because we want to emphasize some things that can better posture the community for cybersecurity,” Harry Coker, White House national cyber director, said.

Coker encouraged each of Michigan’s schools and their districts to join the multi-state Information and Sharing Analysis Center, or ISAC.

Established in 2000, the sharing center allows companies to share “relevant, actionable cyber threat information,” according to their website.

“There is an awful lot of cybersecurity resources that are available and we want folks to take advantage of that,” Coker said. “There are malicious actors, both state and non-state malicious actors that just want to do us ill and we want to provide as much support as we can to the school districts.”

Alongside the ISAC, Michigan officials encouraged schools to look into the state’s recently launched cybersecurity hub that aims to help schools and businesses protect themselves from cyber crime.

Called “Michigan Secure,” the free mobile and desktop app looks to protect a user’s devices by checking for unsecure wi-fi networks, phishing emails, unsafe apps and more to prevent scammers from gaining access to valuable information, according to the State of Michigan.

“Unfortunately, cyber criminals don’t discern between schools and other types of businesses and so we see that schools are being attacked because there are vulnerabilities, so it is highly important to us to help them get tools and resources in order to be able to protect their systems and their networks,” Clark said.

In addition to “Michigan Secure,” lawmakers have introduced Senate Bill 737, legislation that would establish a 24/7 security operation center to provide constant cybersecurity threat detection, prevention and response, according to officials.

Introduced by Sen. Sean McCann (D – Kalamazoo), the legislation came about following cyber attacks on Michigan State University in August 2023 and Kalamazoo Valley Community College in May 2022.

As of Feb. 29, the bill was last known to have been referred to the Michigan Committee on Appropriations.

Michiganders who believe they, or someone they know, were a victim of a cyberattack are encouraged to visit the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget’s website.

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