BOISE, Idaho – Higher education leaders from across Idaho recently gathered to learn about the cybersecurity threat landscape in higher education and study simple steps school leaders can take to measurably reduce their cyber risk and protect students and faculty.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in coordination with the Idaho State Board of Education, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), and all eight of Idaho’s public two-year and four-year higher education institutions, conducted a Leadership Tabletop Exercise for Institutions of Higher Education on February 17 focusing on cybersecurity threats. The tabletop exercise was held directly following the February Idaho State Board of Education meeting, capitalizing on having the state’s higher education leaders gathered at Boise State University.
Idaho’s postsecondary education leaders joined local, state, and federal officials, as well as industry subject matter experts, for the training at Boise State University. The event highlighted the critical role that postsecondary education leaders have in responding to and managing of a cyber threat event.
“Cyberattacks are a very real and serious threat to any industry, including higher education. By working together across federal, state, and local agencies, we can provide the first line of defense in mitigating the harm caused by these kinds of attacks,” said Rick Aman, president of College of Eastern Idaho and one of three WICHE Commissioners. “This exercise was a valuable opportunity for non-technical senior leaders in higher education to come together and practice organizational responses, as well as share best practices and work on improving coordination among our different organizations. Ultimately, our shared goal is to protect the privacy of Idaho residents by safeguarding our data, systems and infrastructure through partnerships and trainings like these.”
The CISA-led training put participants through real-world cyberthreat scenarios to teach proper responses to attacks and how to manage information technology infrastructure post-attack.
“This training served as an initial step toward a stronger and more secure cyber future for our Idaho’s colleges and universities,” said Josh Stemp, CISA Idaho Cybersecurity State Coordinator. “This sets tone for our state’s schools with simple, prioritized actions to reduce cyberattack risk.”
Idaho is the fourth state in the Western region to participate, with past learning events led by the Department of Homeland Security held in Colorado, North Dakota, and Oregon. The education program was developed by WICHE in 2017 but was paused during the pandemic.
Since 1953, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education has been strengthening higher education, workforce development, and behavioral health throughout the region. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. WICHE members include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States. Visit wiche.testing.brossgroup.com.
As the nation’s cyber defense agency and national coordinator for critical infrastructure security, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency leads the national effort to understand, manage, and reduce risk to the digital and physical infrastructure Americans rely on every hour of every day. Visit CISA.gov for more information and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram.
About the Idaho State Board of Education
The State Board of Education is charged with the general supervision and governance of Idaho’s public educational institutions, agencies, and school system. Idaho is served by four, two-year community colleges (College of Eastern Idaho, College of Southern Idaho, College of Western Idaho, and North Idaho College) and four, four-year institutions (Boise State University, Idaho State University, Lewis-Clark State College, and University of Idaho). Visit https://boardofed.idaho.gov/ for more information.