In response to the growing threat of ransomware attacks targeting schools around the world, IBM announced $5 million in-kind grants to help address cybersecurity resilience in schools.
Since its creation in 2021, the IBM Education Security Readiness Grant has expanded globally and this year will also include enhanced offerings from IBM SkillsBuild on topics such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
According to IBM’s 2023 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, ransomware is spreading faster than ever, with attackers managing to reduce the time it takes to deploy a ransomware attack from more than two months to less than two months between 2019 and 2021 four days.
Education sector hit hardest
In fact, the proportion of cybersecurity incidents occurring in the education industry in 2022 will more than double from the previous year, a year-on-year increase greater than that of any other industry.
“Adversaries are attacking the education sector time and time again, yet many of these institutions continue to have limited security resources,” said Andy Piazza, global director of threat intelligence for IBM Security X-Force.
“To date, the program has helped more than 350,000 students in schools in the U.S. and abroad, with IBM Service Corps helping them recover from ransomware attacks, strengthen their security posture against future attacks, and prevent further damage.”
School applications are now open globally. Grants worth $500,000 each (a total of $5 million) will be awarded to six school districts in the United States and four additional school districts around the world.
Volunteers will use their expertise through IBM Service Corps to help schools develop programs that address cybersecurity resilience. Each selected school will receive:
• Incident response plan and ransomware playbook,
• A plan to help address the need to update the operating system,
• A strategic communications plan for responding to a cyber incident, and
• Training and digital certificates through IBM SkillsBuild covering topics such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, plus additional benefits such as enhanced connections to IBM mentors, teacher training and toolkits, and customized learning paths.
“The global skills gap in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence is a growing challenge that requires immediate attention,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, IBM Chief Impact Officer. Driving impact in schools around the world. This year, we are excited to expand the program to bring students and teachers the benefit of IBM SkillsBuild training on topics such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.”
Since its launch in 2021, IBM has received hundreds of applications for the award-winning program from school districts seeking to strengthen their security posture in response to growing threats in the education sector. Past recipients of the IBM Education Security Readiness Grant (list can be found here) encourage other schools to apply.
Incident Response Plan
“With IBM’s help, we’ve improved our cybersecurity incident response plan and used it to better prepare for future incidents,” said Robert Losinski, information security manager for Denver Public Schools.
“Attackers are targeting schools because many do not have a mature security framework in place to effectively defend against ransomware and other cybercrime. Getting professional help as you expand your cybersecurity program will really help you identify the most critical areas to protect.” – – trade arab news agency