As technology and connectivity continue to diffuse into all areas of our lives, especially within the education community, having a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy will be of the utmost importance. In the K-12 space, students are accessing the Internet on a daily basis and using digital devices both inside and outside of the classroom. Unfortunately, without proper protection in place, the safety of the students and institution are at risk. “During the pandemic, we saw a 3,000-percent increase in cybersecurity attacks within the state of New Jersey alone,” says Christopher Markham, Vice President for Information Technology & Economic Advancement, Edge.
To help organizations become better informed about cybersecurity and how to mitigate risk within an educational institution, Edge is presenting Tech Talk sessions at tech events around the state. “Increasing cybersecurity awareness and shifting security cultures from reactive to proactive are fundamentally important to our K-12 members,” explains Michelle Ferraro, Member Account Manager, Edge. “Each county has an IT Tech group that meets every couple of months depending on which county you are in. Edge has been offering free Zoom or in-person meetings with one of our chief information security officers (CISO) to discuss cybersecurity concerns, answer questions, and share advice on how to reduce expensive insurance policies.”
The hour-long Tech Talk sessions welcome IT directors, business administrators, and superintendents; ensuring all areas of an organization are able to become better informed with the insight and guidance they need to drive cybersecurity initiatives. “The technology curve is very dramatic and changes quickly,” says Markham. “As thought leaders, Edge is ahead of that curve and is dedicated to helping member institutions keep pace with technology and the changes happening in this digital era.”
“Increasing cybersecurity awareness and shifting security cultures from reactive to proactive are fundamentally important to our K-12 members. Each county has an IT Tech group that meets every couple of months depending on which county you are in. Edge has been offering free Zoom or in-person meetings with one of our chief information security officers (CISO) to discuss cybersecurity concerns, answer questions, and share advice on how to reduce expensive insurance policies.”
— Michelle Ferraro
Member Engagement Manager
Assessing and Improving Security Measures
Following a Tech Talk session, the CISO will share how to reduce insurance costs and ways to address various needs, including filling specific gaps in staffing and security domain expertise required to strengthen the district’s security posture. “Depending on the organization’s needs and current security profile, we may recommend a security assessment at nonprofit rates,” says Ferraro. “The Security Program Assessment draws on our collective expertise to deliver tailored, actionable recommendations to improve your security posture, reduce risk, and mitigate the impact of security incidents. Our virtual CISO (vCISO) will take the time to interview staff, review policies and procedures, determine risk appetite, identify weaknesses, and provide detailed, actionable recommendations to improve your security program.” Depending on an organization’s needs and current security profile, Edge may recommend one or more solutions to assist in addressing vulnerabilities. A vCISO can also augment an organization’s internal team to help identify and implement viable information security strategies and policies to improve security effectiveness and ensure regulatory and compliance requirements are being followed.
Edge’s Security Program Assessment evaluates the maturity of an organization’s security program based on National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), identifies gaps, and provides an incremental roadmap to improve the overall security posture of the organization. “We also offer Cybersecurity Health Check Programs that deliver monthly assessments, based on NIST standards, to identify possible vulnerabilities before they become a threat,” explains Ferraro. “In addition, our CISO offers consultant services to create incident response plans (IRP) and disaster recovery (DR) plans with testing to make sure our K-12 members have these protections in place.”
“The technology curve is very dramatic and changes quickly. As thought leaders, Edge is ahead of that curve and is dedicated to helping member institutions keep pace with technology and the changes happening in this digital era.”
— Christopher Markham
Vice President for Information Technology & Economic Advancement
A CISO plays an essential role in IT leadership, balancing information security, risk, and general business challenges, but not every organization has the ability to hire a CISO full time. “If a district realizes that formalizing and implementing a cybersecurity program is essential, but has challenges staffing the leadership position—whether it be budgetary issues or identifying and attracting talent—Edge is here to help fill that role and offer the guidance needed to be successful,” says Ferraro.
Keeping education districts’ budgets in mind, Edge offers vCISO services at a cost-effective rate where organizations can utilize expert guidance for a few hours, on a per-project basis, or as a full-time staff augmentation. “Edge looks to provide an executive-level information security resource to our K-12 members in a convenient and affordable way,” says Ferraro. “By proactively evaluating current IT processes, programs, and infrastructure for security integrity, institutions will be better positioned to remediate vulnerabilities and confidently protect the integrity of their students and organization.”
To learn more about scheduling a free Tech Talk or how vCISO services can help guide the security direction of your organization, contact Michelle Ferraro at firstname.lastname@example.org or Erin Brink at email@example.com.