New Mexico Lawmakers Propose $45M School Cybersecurity Fund
Lawmakers in New Mexico are considering major investments in cybersecurity, following two serious cyberattacks against school districts in the state just last month, and increased vulnerability of information technology in K-12 schools nationally.
On Monday, the House Education Committee unanimously advanced a bill that would allocate $45 million to hire cybersecurity experts for the state and a grant program for school districts to bolster their cyber defenses. It will be considered by another House committee.
New Mexico lags behind other states in establishing cybersecurity protocols and training in state agencies as well as in schools, according to Legislative analysts.
Last month, ransomware attacks shut down access to student attendance and grade databases in Albuquerque and Truth or Consequences. A similar cyberattack in Las Cruces in 2019 shut down all access to computers in the district for months.
The proposed bill would mandate the creation of a cybersecurity office for schools inside the state Public Education Department, while also adding positions at the Department of Information Technology.
The education department is reluctant to absorb responsibility for school cybersecurity, according to comments cited by Legislative analysts. The agency is already struggling to fill dozens of open positions, including around seven information technology jobs.