North Dakota becomes the first state to require K-12 cybersecurity and computer science training for students to be eligible for graduation.
The K- 12 plan is part of a cybersecurity education law to provide students with added education to counter the growing threats cybercriminals pose.
The program, known as the PK-20W Initiative, includes multiple state agencies to train students and North Dakota residents.
All students from kindergarten to high school seniors will be required to take classes to ensure their development continues progressing as they move from grade to grade. Students will be graded according to a standard, a testament to cybersecurity’s importance to North Dakota.
The North Dakota governor’s office and state school superintendent Kirsten Baesler applauded the bill signing, HB1398.
In a press release by the governor’s office, Baesler said, “Today is the culmination of years of work by stakeholders from all sectors to recognize and promote the importance of cybersecurity and computer science education in our elementary, middle, and high schools.”
“Our vision is to integrate and underscore the importance of computer science and cybersecurity instruction into the classes our students take as they move through our K-12 system,” Baesler said. “Under this bill, the information and knowledge our students need will be part of every grade level, which is appropriate when considering the role that technology plays in our everyday lives.”
North Dakota aims to become the nation’s leading authority on cybersecurity education training.
Regarding the initiative, the North Dakota Information Technology website wrote, “This is a grassroots effort by more than 40 public and private sector organizations aligning operational security with education and workforce priorities. ”
It continued, “This robust ecosystem includes leaders from PK-12, higher education, state agencies, business and industry, workforce development, military and local and national strategic partners.”
Growing Cybersecurity Threats
North Dakota also wanted to increase the number of trained students and adults, especially in the education sector. The education sector has been a target of cybercriminals in the recent past.
In one example, a ransomware gang named Medusa attacked the Minneapolis school system and stole data. The school district has over 35,000 students.
The gang then posted screenshots and videos on their darknet website featuring some of the stolen data and demanded a $1 million payout from the school district to have the data returned. They also posted that they would accept $1 million from anyone who wanted the data, adding to the urgency from government officials.
Some of the data included alleged student-involved sexual assault information, as was reported.
In another case of an attack against an educational institution, the Los Angeles Unified School District had sensitive data stolen from approximately 2,000 students.
The data included sensitive medical information and health records – including psychological evaluations, among other data.
Jack Kelanic, the IT administrator, said of the attack, “Approximately 2,000 student assessment records have been confirmed as part of the attack, 60 of whom are currently enrolled, as well as driver’s license numbers and Social Security numbers. Some of these records go back almost three decades, which creates further time-consuming analysis.”
World of Haiku Training
Although North Dakota is the first state to enact a law to add cybersecurity training to its educational curriculum, they are certainly not the last. We fully anticipate that other states will adopt similar programs as the cyber threats against every organization continue to expand.
However, this could take years as anything related to government and legislation often moves slowly. Even North Dakota has publicly stated it took years for the initiative to pass legislation.
But if you are a student or even an adult searching for a career change or a job in a field that interests you personally, like cybersecurity, and you don’t want to wait for a law in your state, there’s World of Haiku.
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