Auditor Galloway receives national Top 30 award for cybersecurity school initiative

The Center for Digital Education named Galloway one of the top technologists, transformers and trailblazers of 2016
October 3, 2016

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway was honored by the Center for Digital Education with a Top 30 award for her work to increase the security of student data in Missouri schools. The award highlighted individuals and groups who have made a positive impact on education in the United States with a focus on technology.

Auditor Galloway was recognized in part due to the success of her Cyber Aware School audits, which were designed to increase safeguards against unauthorized access to student records and information. This was accomplished by analyzing school data protection practices,  identifying areas of concern and making recommendations to improve the security of student information in public schools across the state.

"When I first announced the Cyber Aware School audit initiative one year ago, I hoped it would shine a light on the data protection practices some schools are already using, and  assist schools across the state in taking a common sense approach to increasing safeguards and securing weaknesses in their systems," Auditor Galloway said. "I'm honored to receive this recognition and more importantly, I'm pleased with the focus it's bringing to an issue I feel very strongly about. Cybersecurity planning is only as effective as its weakest link, which is why individuals and organizations with access to personal data must proactively work to keep our student and family information safe."

Auditor Galloway has advocated for school districts to take a holistic approach to data security, and recommends districts implement a comprehensive data governance program, which she calls "a critical task for any educational organization." The program serves as a guiding document to prevent against unauthorized access to information in the district's possession. This level of preparation is necessary to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of student data. Without a formal program, districts cannot ensure that personally identifiable information is adequately protected and safe from unauthorized access, misuse or inadvertent disclosure.

Auditor Galloway's Cyber Aware School audits were completed at Booneville School District in Cooper County, Waynesville School District in Pulaski County, Cape Girardeau School District in Cape Girardeau County, Park Hill School District in Platte County, and Orchard Farm School District in St. Charles County.

Read more about the Top 30 award and honorees: http://www.centerdigitaled.com/top30/

Since taking office, Auditor Galloway has made cybersecurity a priority across all components of government, including Missouri schools. The Cyber Aware School Audits are part of an ongoing emphasis on data protection practices and keeping Missourians' information secure. Last fall, an audit of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education found the department was unnecessarily transmitting and storing student social security numbers in its Missouri Student Information System (MOSIS)- a practice the department has ended. The State Auditor's Office has also incorporated data security into the standard audit process. 

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month was designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity and increasing protections against cyber incidents.