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Galloway audits will examine cyber security of K-12 schools, including Orchard Farm

File photo | Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Five public schools in Missouri will have their cyber security measures reviewed as part of an initiative announced Wednesday by State Auditor Nicole Galloway.

She told reporters that more than 250 K-12 schools nationwide have suffered data breaches over the past 10 years. One of those was the Park Hill district in Platte County, near Kansas City, which is among the five being audited.

"Park Hill school, in particular, had a data breach last year where over 10,000 students and staff members had their information compromised," Galloway said. "We're going to determine the progress they've made since then and hold them accountable to that, and report that to the public."

The four other school districts undergoing cyber audits are Orchard Farm in St. Charles County, Boonville, Cape Girardeau and Waynesville. Two other school districts, Fulton and Belton, have also been hacked within the "past year or so" but are not being audited.

"The Fulton school district had their data network breached, and the Belton middle school had (an) iPad that was hacked into and then turned into a circumstance of cyberbullying," Galloway said. "This is not something that we're talking about in an abstract way; these are things that are happening in Missouri right now."

Galloway gave no reason why the Belton and Fulton school districts were not included in the audits, but did say that more schools will undergo cyber security audits next year.

Specifically, the audits will examine:

  • Each school district's ability to detect a cyber security breach and its planned response
  • Student personal information accessibility and protection
  • Technology use policies
  • Student and staff privacy and security awareness training

She added that the timing of the audits coincide with October being National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
Wednesday's announcement also marked her first meeting with the news media since being sworn in as State Auditor on April 27. Galloway, a Democrat, was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon to fill the unexpired term of State Auditor Tom Schweich, who committed suicide in February.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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