Episode 17: Exploring Ransomware Trends Across K-12 & School Cybersecurity Needs
K-12 school districts are now kicking off the 2021-22 school year, depending on which part of the country you live in. Following a summer full of high-profile ransomware incidents, ransomware is at the top of the K-12 cybersecurity priority list. District IT teams are hard at work to ensure they’re protected against a potential attack.
The cybersecurity incidents experience shows that school districts are behind the curve. There are many challenges for IT teams to address. Students and staff are continuing to access their school accounts, cloud applications, and resources from outside of school. IT leaders will need to update their strategies to overcome the challenges. Especially in the first few months of this upcoming school year as students, staff, and devices return on-site.
In this next episode of The K-12 Tech Experience podcast, we’re joined by Adam Feind, a Customer Solutions Architect at Red River—a ManagedMethods partner. Adam joins us to discuss the challenges K-12 school districts face when it comes to ransomware. Coming from a managed services provider, he brings a different perspective on ransomware and approaches districts can take to be better protected.
Continue reading to learn more about Adam and Red River (conversation edited for brevity). Make sure to listen to the rest of the episode by subscribing to The K-12 Tech Experience wherever you get your podcasts. And so you never miss an episode!
JK: First, how about we start by having you share more about yourself and your career so far, and then a little background on Red River for our listeners.
AF: I am a former CTO in K-12 — was a CTO in K-12 for the last 21 years. I’ve got a lot of experience in building systems and helping school districts help schools manage security systems. I originally set up the website for our district many years ago. Before that, I was in healthcare. I did many system solutions designs with healthcare and did a lot of building services related to healthcare. From the healthcare perspective, that helped me with my knowledge and skills to help students and staff in K-12.
I came over to Red River to help them with the SLED and K-12 practices. A friend of mine started the division here at Red River in Texas specifically. He said, “Hey, why don’t you come over and help us. You can actually help a lot more K-12 and higher ed institutions in your role with Red River.”
My role here is strategic across all sectors and am regularly on phone calls across the United States. Helping folks with things like remote learning and all the things strategically related to ransomware and cybersecurity.
JK: For Red River, coming out of the pandemic, I imagine there have been some challenges and successes. Is there anything you can speak to?
AF: Specifically, I’ll talk a bit about remote learning first. Red River put together a proposal in January, prior to the pandemic, to help students with remote learning initiatives. It is specifically related to a technology called CBRS. CBRS has been around for a while but has come to full fruition as of February 2020. It allows school districts to offer on-prem wireless services to students remotely.
Once the pandemic hit, we saw a big uptick in cybersecurity and cyber awareness. Even going back to 2019, Texas introduced Senate Bill 820. I was still a CTO at the time and was helping districts with SB820 and what the requirements were around cybersecurity. It ramped up post-pandemic because there were issues with staff and students doing remote learning. Turning technology on its head, from a security perspective, because people have to come into the district from the outside.
There were a lot of lessons learned. And from a service provider’s perspective—how can we be nimble and what services can we spin up quickly? To make sure these organizations were providing the highest level of services they possibly could.
Listen to the rest of our conversation with Adam below and check out previous episodes on the ManagedMethods podcast page. Make sure to subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience wherever you listen to your podcasts, so you never miss an episode!