Today, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) announced what I believe to be the nation’s first P-12 Cyber Threat Response Team spearheaded by a state education agency. According to the memo accompanying the announcement, this team represents a collaborative effort among Arkansas Cooperative Technology Coordinators, Arkansas Team Digital, and the Arkansas Division of Information Systems (DIS).

The Cyber Threat Response Team is envisioned as a small group of IT professionals who are willing and ready to provide onsite support – at no cost to the school district – whenever an Arkansas school district is faced with a cyber threat. Its goals include:

  • Ensuring districts know they are not alone when faced with a cyber threat;
  • Increasing communication between and among districts, co-ops, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and DIS when a district is under attack; and,
  • Building ADE’s internal capacity in handling and responding to cyber threats through hands-on experience.

Importantly, the announcement underscores that information collected through the P-12 Cyber Threat Response Team will only be used to inform and protect Arkansas school districts.

This is another common sense step taken by the Arkansas Department of Education to help their schools better manage the evolving cybersecurity risks they are facing – and (in my humble opinion) other state education agencies would do well to follow their lead.