Home Advocacy Strengthening Cybersecurity in Texas Schools

Strengthening Cybersecurity in Texas Schools

by Matt Russell
Feature Image with Title "April 2023 Advocacy Update- Strengthening Cybersecurity in Texas Schools"

In recent years, cybersecurity threats targeting educational institutions have become increasingly common. These threats can lead to data breaches, disruptions in educational services, and significant financial losses. By implementing comprehensive cybersecurity controls and requirements, Texas can provide a secure digital environment for school districts and open-enrollment charter schools.

House and Senate Bills that TCEA Supports

As an organization devoted to the enhancement of teaching and learning through the use of technology, the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) is supporting Texas House Bill 4944 by House Public Education Chairman Brad Buckley and Senate Bill 717 by Senator Angela Paxton. These bills are key in ensuring the protection of our educational institutions and the sensitive information they manage daily. With the State Budget House Bill 1 already including $50 million in funding for this initiative, Texas is taking a significant step in prioritizing cybersecurity in education.

Photo of Rep. Brad Buckley, District 54
Rep. Brad Buckley, District 54
Photo of Sen. Angela Paxton, District 8
Sen. Angela Paxton, District 8

HB 4944 and SB 717 call for the Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency to adopt cybersecurity controls and requirements, in consultation with and as recommended by the Department of Information Resources. This will ensure that every school district and open-enrollment charter school in Texas implements these controls and requirements, fostering a culture of security and awareness in the state’s educational institutions.

Technical Assistance

In addition to the adoption of cybersecurity controls, these bills also emphasize the importance of technical assistance for public schools. The department may provide guidance to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools regarding the implementation of cybersecurity controls, requirements, and network operations. This technical assistance may include the use of third-party services, procurement of technology and services, recommending migration of services to the State Data Center, and using the services of a regional network security center.

Cybersecurity Risk Assessments

Furthermore, the bills provide for cybersecurity risk assessments for public schools at the request of various stakeholders, including the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, the superintendent of the district, the person who serves the function of the superintendent of the school, or the Texas Division of Emergency Management following a cybersecurity incident. These assessments can help identify vulnerabilities and ensure that necessary measures are taken to protect our schools from future attacks.

Image to click stating "Read House Bill 4944"
Image to click stating "Read Senate Bill 717"
Image to click stating "Read House Bill 1"

TCEA believes that the integration of technology in education is vital for preparing students for the future. However, with the increasing reliance on technology comes the responsibility to protect the sensitive information of our students, educators, and educational institutions. By implementing these cybersecurity measures, Texas will not only safeguard our schools from potential threats but also foster an environment that promotes the responsible use of technology.

We thank Chairman Buckley and Senator Paxton for their ongoing efforts.

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