New Survey: 1 In 4 Schools Were Victims Of Cyber Attacks In the Last Year; Administrators To Increase Spending On Privacy and Security

In a new survey from Clever, 3 out of 4 school districts say they will increase their spending on security and privacy in the next two to three years; 1 in 4 teachers report that cybersecurity training is missing in their district.

January 5, 2023

4 Min Read


SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Clever, the platform used by more than 70% of U.S. K-12 schools to simplify and secure digital learning, today announced a new survey of school administrators and teachers revealing that the two groups perceive security vulnerabilities differently as the district edtech stack increases. According to the data, three out of four districts say they will increase their spending on security and privacy in the next two to three years. While more than half of administrators (63%) and teachers (53%) believe that their district is prepared to take on digital security challenges, one in four teachers report that cybersecurity training is missing altogether in their district.

Last year, over 90% of educators said they will continue to use at least some of the digital tools they adopted during the pandemic, as schools increasingly embrace devices and digital platforms to enable individualized instruction and student support. But with the expanded access to technology comes greater responsibility on schools and their edtech partners to protect the information these tools may collect. In 2021, nearly a million students were impacted by 67 ransomware attacks against schools, with a cost of over $3.5 billion in downtime.  

To help district and school leaders navigate new edtech practices in this era of increased usage, Clever surveyed almost 4,000 teachers and administrators. The data suggest that educators and administrators perceive the risks in schools differently: only 11% of teachers said a cybersecurity incident would be very likely, but one in four administrators say their district already experienced a hack, phishing incident, data breach, or other cyber attack in the past year.

"Creating a safe digital learning environment requires that everyone -- administrators, educators, students -- play a role," said Mohit Gupta, who oversees security products at Clever. "Cybersecurity is a team sport, and the differences highlighted in the survey offer us a path forward to address vulnerabilities in our schools. While the groups differ on where the risks exist, they agree on what can be done: more training for educators, the use of security tools, and increased specialized staff."

Among additional key findings from Clever's Cybersecure 2023 report:

  • Teachers and administrators see devices as the greatest tech vulnerability in their district. Teachers (34%) and administrators (34.3%) alike believe that devices are the most vulnerable part of their technology infrastructure. However, administrators are more aware of potential risks elsewhere as well: they're five times more concerned about vulnerabilities from administrative platforms like a learning management system or student information system, and nearly three times more concerned about vulnerabilities from applications used for curriculum and instruction.

  • When it comes to identifying risks around human usage of technology, administrators think teachers are the most likely source of security vulnerability, but teachers think students are. Teachers, responsible for their own safe use of technology and appropriate use by their students, see students (67%) as the biggest risk for a security incident, followed by teachers (27%). In contrast, two-thirds of administrators believe that teachers pose the highest vulnerability threat, and only 19% believe it to be students. Administrators were also three times more likely than teachers to say administrators are a vulnerability.

  • Teachers and administrators agree on what can be done to improve digital security. Both groups believe the three most important activities to support security are: 1) more educator training; 2) more or better technology solutions; and 3) more staff focused on technology. Two-thirds of teachers indicated they would want to learn more about topics related to data privacy and security.

  • Yet, one in four teachers say cybersecurity training is missing altogether in their district. While the majority of administrators and educators report that privacy and security training happens in their district, a surprising 26% of teachers say they never receive training on privacy or security – representing a big opportunity for districts to shore up their practices.

  • Increasing challenges means increased spending. 65% say their spending on digital security will increase over the next two to three years; another 12% say it will increase significantly, and a majority say that federal stimulus dollars are helping support their efforts.

The survey, administered throughout October 2022 using Clever's user database, asked more than 800 US-based school administrators and more than 3,000 US-based educators. To see the full findings and methodology, click here.

About Clever

Clever is on a mission to unlock new ways to learn for all students. More than 70% of U.S. K-12 schools now use Clever to simplify access and improve engagement with digital learning. With our free platform for schools and a network of leading application providers, we're committed to advancing educational equity. Clever, a Kahoot! company, has offices in San Francisco, CA and Durham, NC but you can visit us at anytime.


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