october 2018 cybersecurity awareness month


Each and every one of us needs to do our part to make sure that our online lives are kept safe and secure. That’s what National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is all about!  

Our Shared Responsibility” is the theme for National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2018.

Everyone has a role in securing their part of cyberspace, including the devices and networks they use. Individual actions have a collective impact and when we use the internet safely, we make it more secure for everyone. If each of us does our part – implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating young people or training employees – together we will be a digital society safer and more resistant from attacks and more resilient if an attack occurs.

Cybersecurity begins with a simple message everyone using the internet can adopt: STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ Take security and safety precautions, understand the consequences of actions and behaviors online and enjoy the benefits of the internet.



The Office of Technology and Learning is engaging in the following activities during October to promote safe online activities for our community:
  • A new Schoology course for Cybersecurity Awareness Training has been offered to staff in all buildings. The training covers topics such as phishing, proper passwords, data privacy, and more.
  • Awareness posters have been placed in each school that continue to reinforce themes of shared responsibilities, safe passwords, and phishing identification.
  • Each friday in the school year, a email newsletter is sent to all staff with tips and tricks to stay safe online.  The email is titled "Friday Cyber" and started in mid-August.
  • High School and Middle School students will receive a special email for October that contains basic tips for online safety, combating cyberbullying, and reporting abuse.
  • Resources for online safety will be posted online and via social media campaigns for all users.
Learn more, get involved and do your part to make the internet safer and more secure for everyone. The theme for NCSAM is Our Shared Responsibility. View more: https://staysafeonline.org/ncsam/themes/

Shared Responsibilities

Creating a culture of cybersecurity is critical for all organizations and must be a shared responsibility among all persons.
What does the Office of Technology and Learning do?
  • Policies and Procedures
    Various policies and procedures are being written during this school year to incorporate good security practices into daily routines and expectations. Policies give us a reference point and common language. Something as simple as a password policy that is posted and made clear can answer lots of questions. 

  • Cloud Services
    The division uses software "in the cloud" as a security measure. The "cloud" is nothing more than someone else's computer.  We utilize software that is installed, maintained, and monitored by vendors and is kept in highly secure data centers across the country.  This creates a shared responsibility for the security and data involved. Powerschool and Google are our two biggest service providers.  We work together with these companies to keep you secure.

  • Firewall
    A firewall is a device that controls incoming and outgoing Internet requests.  It can help block attackers from accessing computers within our network. Firewalls are a barrier. The device works 24/7 monitoring and reacting to everything that that uses our Internet connection.  Your home WIFI or cable modem also has a firewall, although much smaller in scale.  Firewalls are an essential first step toward providing multiple layers of security.

  • Malware and Virus Scanning
    The division uses software to scan computers for software that is up to no good.  Virus scanning has existed since the 1980s.  Malware, Spyware, and other malicious intent software is fairly new.  Software scanning allows us to identify software that is not approved and remove it.

  • Software/Hardware Updates
    The division consistently applies software updates to computers.  These updates are the fixes that close security holes identified by vendors.  As soon as we know about a fix that can be applied, we try to install it.  Hardware too is continuously replaced and updated.  We buy computers that are capable of running the latest operating systems and the latest software.  Older software and hardware is vulnerable to attack.

  • We Talk and We Listen
    We stay in contact with other school divisions in Virginia and across the country.  We utilize our personal networks of friends and colleagues to keep us informed and aware of trends and attacks.  We are members of user groups, support groups, and leadership groups that help to spread messages.  We are not on our own.  We are part of multiple communities.

  • Cyber Resilience
    Cyber Resilience refers to the ability to continue to provide services after an attack or breach.  This includes things like having backups, having continuity plans, or relying on outside vendors.  We spend a lot of time planning for disasters that we hope never occur.  We do this to be ready for such events, but disaster exercises can also expose weaknesses that we didn't know existed.  We can correct those weaknesses and be stronger because of our efforts.

  • Testing and Auditing
    We work with companies to test our computers and networks.  It's always good to have another person check your work.  We employ companies to help us in case we have overlooked something or to tell us if we could be doing something differently.
What Can You Do?
  • Report Problems
    No matter how small, report problems.  If we don't know that something is wrong, we can't fix it.  Your small problem could be a part of a larger problem.  Whenever anything is wrong, don't ignore it - report it.  You can report problems to your teacher, your principal, or your building's Computer Support Specialist.

  • Report Strange Activities
    Did someone ask you for your password?  Did someone ask to borrow your credentials?  Was your laptop or Chromebook misplaced/lost/stolen?  All of these things can lead to bigger problems and should be reported.

  • Never Share Passwords or Computers
    Don't let others use your Chromebooks, usernames, or passwords. No one else needs your password - ever.  Your teacher should not ask for your password.  Your principal or supervisor should not ask for your password.  It is YOUR password.  Once your are given a default or initial password, you should change it to something that only you know and keep it secret.

  • Logout of Services / Don't Save Passwords
    If you are done with a service for the day, log out.  Don't allow a browser to save passwords for you.  This is especially important for computers that travel home and are used in other locations.  Logout when you are not using the computer.  

  • Stay Informed
    In your personal life, it's important to follow the news about cybersecurity.  The recent Equifax, Yahoo, and Target data breaches have exposed the personal information of billions of accounts.  You may be able to take action after a breach to better protect yourself. 

Parent Resources for NCSAM

We are committed to making sure parents, guardians, and interested community members have resources available so that they can ensure our students’ safety while they are online. 

Staying safe online means doing a number of different things. For example, having a strong password that you change frequently for banking websites and others that contain sensitive personal information can keep your finances out of the hands of hackers. 

While children don’t bank online, they still have an online presence that needs to be protected. In school, students learn about various digital citizenship components, but community members can reinforce those lessons. 

Remind children that they need to be aware of their “digital footprint.” Everything they do online is saved somewhere, so they need to be vigilant about what they are inputting into game and video streaming sites: the less information the better. 

The resources below will help you learn about how to stay safe online and how to keep your family’s information safe. 

Common Sense Media - The Bare Minimum You Should Do to Protect Your Family's Data
Common Sense Media - Privacy and Internet Safety

Additional Links