94% of Utah K-12 school districts do not have any dedicated cybersecurity professionals according to a survey of 35 school districts.
Only two districts or 6% had dedicated security staff, and three others or had a staff member with cybersecurity responsibilities. The combined total of school districts with any security staff is 14%.
Finding the data was straightforward. I found the list of districts and student enrollment from the Utah State Board of Education website. I then crossed referenced the school districts with the district’s websites. Of the 42 districts, 35 published staff directory information on their websites. I used this directory information to identify which IT staff members have “security” or “cybersecurity” in their job titles.
The data shows only a small number of cybersecurity staff protecting Utah K-12 schools and student data. Only two school districts (6%) had dedicated cybersecurity staff: Box Elder District and Tooele District with one staff member each. Three other districts, Cache, Ogden City, and Park City, had one employee where cybersecurity responsibilities was combined with other job duties.
Although not a part of any school district, the Utah Education Network security operations team works with K-12 districts. The team has six dedicated staff members. There are 589,773 students enrolled in K-12, but once I removed student count for districts that did not publish staff information that number is 513,459.
The ratio of counted students to dedicated cybersecurity professionals before including UEN’s security team is 256,730 students to 1 cybersecurity professional. After including UEN’s security team, that number is 73,722 students to 1 cybersecurity professional.
Although one data point does not convey the entire picture, it does indicate how developed cybersecurity is within Utah K-12 education.
One conclusion we can draw is Utah school districts do not have cybersecurity expertise to handle security incidents. As a result, districts either do not have any security monitoring, have monitoring inconsistently applied, or outsource it entirely. It’s likely many districts feel relying on the dedicated UEN security team for most or all security monitoring is adequate. However, the low number of cybersecurity positions for the large number of disparate IT systems across dozens of organizations is grossly inadequate.
These numbers also indicate a lack of cybersecurity investment across the state. Some districts are too small to hire dedicated cybersecurity staff. Others have a substantial IT footprint but have chosen not to prioritize cybersecurity.
Utah K-12 Cybersecurity Recommendations
The low number of cybersecurity personnel for the many school districts and systems greatly increases the risk of a compromise. To help reduce the risk, Utah education should consider a comprehensive plan to systemically improve the status of IT security across all districts. This includes hiring qualified security professionals in key areas and combining security efforts.
Download the data in CSV format or browse the table below. You can scroll right for additional columns.
|District Name||Fall 2020 Enrollment||IT Staff||Security Staff||Ratio student to IT Staff||Ratio student to Security Staff||Notes||Source|
|Box Elder District||11,914||14||1||851||11,914||https://www.besd.net/IT/Default.php|
|Cache District||18,802||16||0*||1,175||-||*One person has shared responsibility with other duties||https://www.ccsdut.org/Page/6469|
|Emery District||Does not publish directory data|
|Logan City District||5,420||14||-||387||-||https://www.loganschools.org/technical-services-directory|
|Nebo District||Does not publish directory data|
|North Sanpete District||Does not publish directory data|
|North Summit District||Does not publish directory data|
|Ogden City District||11,460||11||0*||1,042||-||*One person has shared responsibility with other duties||https://www.ogdensd.org/departments/information-technology/contact|
|Park City District||4,757||10||0*||476||-||*One person has shared responsibility with other duties||https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vnCK2ZsBVd8uq8_NePJXGPibhicwMml5jYofMxeTCj0/edit|
|Rich District||Does not publish directory data|
|Salt Lake District||22,017||30||-||734||-||https://www.slcschools.org/departments/business-administration/information-technology/|
|San Juan District||Does not publish directory data|
|South Sanpete District||3,230||2||-||1,615||-||https://www.ssanpete.org/district-information/district-office.html|
|South Summit District||1,701||4||-||425||-||https://www.ssummit.org/staff|
|Washington District||Does not publish directory data|
|UEN Security Team||NA||NA||6||NA||NA|