Grant Program Aids Cybersecurity Efforts in Schools

Cyber Lock

The TASB Risk Management Fund has launched a $500,000 cybersecurity grant program to aid cybersecurity efforts in Texas school districts.

This article was written by Lucas Anderson and originally published on Sept. 29, 2022 by TASB

The TASB Risk Management Fund has launched a $500,000 cybersecurity grant program to aid cybersecurity efforts in Texas school districts.

Texas school districts can be a major target for cyber-attacks because of the high-value data they store. Cyber-related losses are 40 times greater now than they were in 2014, the year the Fund created its cyber coverage program. But implementing cyber-related security controls to prevent attacks and other cyber risks can be a challenge for many districts with limited resources for cybersecurity.

“Public schools continue to be a target for cyber criminals and other bad actors who want to steal data, disrupt operations, or extort money. The Fund’s Cybersecurity Grant is designed to support its members’ efforts at building stronger defenses to stop cyber-attacks before they happen,” said Mary Barrett, associate executive director of TASB Risk Management Services.

To assist districts with improving their cybersecurity resilience, the Cybersecurity Grant will help Fund members invest in proven cybersecurity tools and services they might not otherwise be able to afford. Districts can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 through the online application process that opened Sept. 19 and continues until Nov. 21.

School districts and other educational entities that participate in both the Fund’s Data Privacy and Information Security and School Liability programs, plus one additional Fund program, are eligible to apply. After the application window closes, members will be notified of their application status within 30 days.

During the grant application process, members will choose from a pre-selected list of services and products and explain how the solution will be implemented. The Fund is encouraging grant applicants to focus their efforts in the following areas:

  • Compliance with state cybersecurity regulations
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Software security patches
  • System and data backup processes

All Texas schools are targets

Prime targets for malicious actors are both highly populated, high-profile districts as well as rural ones with fewer information technology and cybersecurity resources. The Fund’s statistics show that of the cybersecurity claims submitted in 2021, 55% targeted larger districts with 5,000 or more students; 45% involved districts with fewer than 5,000 students.

The top cause of cyber loss for Fund members, and probably most Texas school districts, is ransomware, a type of malicious software that steals sensitive data and locks it. Criminals generally demand payment, or ransom, before they release the stolen data.

“The cyber threat landscape is continuously evolving, with new software platforms and approaches to managing enterprise cybersecurity constantly being developed and released. But without funds to purchase these improvements, districts may be left vulnerable to attacks,” Barrett said.

In addition to the Fund’s grant program, there are other state and federal resources available to help meet the unique cybersecurity challenges for school districts:

  • The Texas Department of Information Resources has a discounted purchasing program that curates known and vetted service providers who are ready to assist school districts at a discounted price.
  • The Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center has a range of pre-breach and post-incident services available to districts at low-to-no cost. Additionally, Fund members have access to specialized cybersecurity support and individualized training.

Get information on grant eligibility and how the new program works. School districts that need support can also reach out to the Fund for assistance on cybersecurity issues. Contact TASB’s Privacy and Cyber Risk Consultant Lucas Anderson at for assistance.

Lucas Anderson is a privacy and cyber risk consultant with TASB Risk Solutions.

This article was first published on Sept. 29, 2022.

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