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Nampa School District works with NNU for cybersecurity measures

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Posted at 4:07 PM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-22 18:08:46-05

NAMPA — All it takes is one mouse click, and any person can fall victim to a cybersecurity threat. In 2019, the Nampa School District experienced a cybersecurity attack, and they're making strides in their training and projects with Northwest Nazarene University students to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

The first project for the students is creating a phishing campaign for the Nampa School District, to more extensively train their staffers on recognizing the internet scams.

"You know the old issues where they'd have misspellings and the whole Nigerian prince kind of things, things which we thought were really obvious, those tend to be less common nowadays," said Kevin McCarty, associate professor of computer science at Northwest Nazarene University.

School districts serve and hire a lot of people, which means lots of personal data with regulations they want to keep secure.

"The biggest is Family Education Right to Privacy Act, FERPA, and that one really delineates what we can share and how and that's really our primary avenue of data that we need to protect, we also have employee data for your typical tax stuff," said Peter Jurhs, executive director of operations for the Nampa School District,

The new cybersecurity program helps minimize the costs that come with hiring professionals while giving local students a chance for hands-on experience.

"Most of the companies, they know they need this expertise, but it's just not practical, so what we hope to do is provide sort of an alternative so they can get the expertise without having to hire somebody or shell out a lot of money which they really don't have," said McCarty.

The district already has training sessions in place, but the super-focused efforts of the NNU students can warn more accurately what phishing and cybersecurity attacks look like.

"As the students get more experience, hopefully, we can do more projects in the future," said Jurhs.

The NNU students are working with professionals from the information systems security association. The goal of the course is to give them real-life experience and increase their employability after graduation.