3 Part Series Written by Tim Watrous – President Digital Advisors


Part 1 – Unpacking the Basics of Digital Health

Taking care of your digital health is like taking care of our physical selves. We have to do things like brushing and flossing our teeth, watching what we eat, working out, and visiting the doctor for regular checkups. These are just a few examples of how we take care of our physical selves. Our digital identity and, therefore, our digital hygiene is incredibly important these days because nearly all of our finances are digital. All the banking, credit cards, ATM transfers, and bill pays exist in a digital space, and if someone has access to our identity, they could have access to all of our finances.

Do you remember an ad campaign from a company called LifeLock? The CEO of the company would broadcast their social security number in the advertisement and guarantee that it would not be tampered with, encouraging you to do the same. Here’s the article headline that ended the campaign.

“LifeLock CEO said to be victim of identity theft 13 times”

We need to think of our digital identity in a new way and put significant effort into keeping it safe. This translates to school districts in a very important way because all of your information as an employee exists within the school district systems. Not only your information as an employee but students’ information as well. You may be somewhat established in your life with a house and car, established credit, and so on. Many of the students we serve have not started this journey, and someone improperly accessing our identity will have huge implications for anyone, and massive implications for someone who has not begun this credit journey.

Alberto Carvalho gave a very powerful talk at CSBA about the challenges of being on the inside of the LA Unified data breach we have all seen unfold in the media. This incident is both sad and frightening. Homeland security became involved, advising the district to not pay the hackers, which is the best practice. Unfortunately, the hackers delivered on their promise to leak sensitive data if the ransom wasn’t paid. School district employee and student records have been leaked. I can’t imagine how stressful and frustrating it is for those employees and students to be a part of this, and I offer up my sincere wishes for a positive outcome in this dark situation.

Los Angeles Unified is just one of so very many school districts that have dealt with a similar situation. If you’ve read this far into the article, I’m certain that you are concerned about something like this happening to you. I don’t have a silver bullet or one simple recommendation that will stop all of this, but I can certainly tell you that raising your awareness level around your digital hygiene is the first step in the right direction. Protecting your data as an individual is where the journey begins. The biggest threat to our networks is not necessarily the hackers trying to get in, but the users of the networks who unintentionally click on something they shouldn’t and allow hackers into the network.

If we can do a better job as active users of school district resources and networks, we can significantly reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and make the jobs of our overwhelmed IT teams a little bit easier. This is the first of several articles on cyber security for CASBO, and in future articles, I will be more prescriptive with specific things you can do to improve your digital hygiene. In the meantime, please take a moment to click the following link and register for our upcoming cyber security webinar intended for both non-technical and technical leaders.

We’ll hear from cybersecurity experts and have a chance to dive a little bit deeper into what leaders need to know to improve cyber security, digital health, and hygiene in this new landscape of digital threats that we all live with today.

Register Today!