Marco Rubio: Miami Dade County Public Schools Should Take Advantage of Federal Security Help After Cyberattacks

Last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., urged Superintendent of Miami Dade County Public Schools Alberto Carvalho to take advantage of federal resources available to assist in the school system’s efforts to secure its networks, including virtual classrooms, after they announced that its virtual learning platform was the target of 12 cyberattacks.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Superintendent Carvalho:

After learning that Miami Dade County Public Schools had been the target of numerous cyberattacks, I have asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary for a briefing on efforts to protect our school systems as they attempt to return to the classroom virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to media reports, it appears Miami-Dade schools have been the victim of Denial of Service attacks, which flooded your network and proved to be more data than it could handle. These types of attacks are among the most common and malicious cyber tactics and target all types of organizations, both in the public and private sector. The recent arrest of a 16-year-old student suspected of being responsible for these attacks demonstrates how a sophisticated network enterprise is not required to perpetrate them.

Given the size and reach of Miami Dade County Public Schools, I encourage you to avail yourself of federal resources available to assist in your efforts to secure your networks, including your virtual classrooms. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) provides valuable information that is readily available for K-12 schools. For example, in May 2020, CISA released advisory guidance entitled “Cybersecurity Recommendations for K-12 Schools Using Video Conferencing Tools and Online Platforms.” This guidance outlines best practices and principles in an effort to assist those responsible for administering distance learning – as well as those participating in it – to prevent and mitigate cyberattacks. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to disseminate this information widely to all schools throughout the county. This guidance further encourages outreach to CISA at CyberLiaison@cisa.dhs.gov should additional information or assistance be needed. I urge you to take full advantage of these resources.

I continue to stand ready to assist your efforts to ensure our students receive the best education possible absent in-person learning during these trying times.

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