School districts will be audited for cybersecurity

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JEFFERSON CITY- Five schools across the state will undergo a cybersecurity audit from Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway's office.

Galloway's office is working with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to see if school districts in Missouri are protecting their information from a potential cyber attack.

"In the past ten years over 250 K-12 schools have had a data breach or data compromise." Galloway said. "Several of those cases have been in Missouri."

The audits will focus on the effectiveness of existing cybersecurity safeguards. Audits will review the school district's ability to detect a cybersecurity breach, the planned response for a breach, student personal information accessibility and protection, technology use policies, and student and staff privacy and security awareness training.

Galloway chose five schools to make sure they are keeping private information safe. Boonville R-1 School District is being audited from the mid-Missouri area.

Dr. Mark Ficken, Superintendent of Boonville R-1 School District, said he doesn't know exactly how his district is being audited.

"I have no idea how the process is working," Ficken said. "This is brand new to us and all school districts."

Ficken said he was unaware about the audit until the school district received an email from the state auditor's office on Friday. A representative from the office arrived on Tuesday ready to start the process he said would take 400 hours.

"They said we were chosen because of our size," Ficken said. "We're not too big and not too small. We're a decent size, and we're close to Jefferson City and Columbia."

Ficken said there have been no accusations of fraud or of inappropriate use of finances against Boonville R-1 School District.

Galloway said the audit is to make sure school districts can keep information safe. She said the cybersecurity audits are important to her because of her experience as a mother of two.

"When I enroll them into school, into classes, I provide schools quite a bit of information," Galloway said. "Whether it be medical records, social security numbers, addresses, maybe even my debate card so they can charge lunches."

Galloway said schools have the responsibility to proactively make sure the private information people provide is secure and is safe. She said more school districts will be audited in 2016.