[House Report 117-122]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

117th Congress   }                                              {  Report
                         HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session     }                                              { 117-122


                     K-12 CYBERSECURITY ACT OF 2021


 September 14, 2021.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed


 Mr. Thompson of Mississippi, from the Committee on Homeland Security, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 4691]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Homeland Security, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 4691) to establish a K-12 education 
cybersecurity initiative, and for other purposes, having 
considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.


Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Committee Votes..................................................     3
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     3
C.B.O. Estimate, New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and 
  Tax Expenditures...............................................     4
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     5
Duplicative Federal Programs.....................................     5
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     5
Congressional Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and Limited Tariff 
  Benefits Advisory Committee Statement..........................     5
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     5

                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    H.R. 4691, the ``K-12 Cybersecurity Act'' requires the 
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to 
conduct a study of the cybersecurity risks facing K-12 
educational institutions, in consultation with teachers, school 
administrators, other Federal agencies, and private sector 
organizations. The bill further directs CISA to develop 
recommendations based on this study, including cybersecurity 
guidelines for K-12 educational institutions and an online 
training toolkit with information on the guidelines and how to 
implement them. Additionally, the bill requires CISA to make 
the study, recommendations, and online toolkit publicly 
available on the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) 


    K-12 educational institutions have experienced an 
increasing number of cyber incidents in recent years. According 
to one report, in 2020, there were 408 publicly disclosed cyber 
incidents at schools in the United States, an 18 percent 
increase over the prior year and the highest level since the 
tracking of incidents began in 2016.\1\ Additionally, the 
number of incidents was higher in the second half of 2020, as 
many schools were operating remotely due to the COVID-19 
pandemic, creating new cyber risks, including disruptions to 
online classes and online school meetings.\2\ The Multi-State 
Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) projects the 
number of K-12 cyber incidents could increase by 86 percent in 
2021.\3\ The Federal Government has recognized this growing 
threat, and in December 2020, CISA, the MS-ISAC, and the 
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a Joint 
Cybersecurity Advisory detailing the cyber threats to K-12 
educational institutions and providing best practices to 
protect against cyber incidents.\4\
    \1\Douglas A. Levin, The State of K-12 Cybersecurity: 2020 Year in 
Review, EdTech Strategies/K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center and the 
K12 Security Information Exchange, (March 10, 2021), p. 3, Available at 
    \3\Joseph Marks, ``The Cybersecurity 202: Schools Are Another Prime 
Ransomware Target,'' The Washington Post, (July 12, 2021), Available at 
    \4\Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cybersecurity and 
Infrastructure Security Agency, and Multi-State Information Sharing and 
Analysis Center, Cyber Actors Target K-12 Distance Learning Education 
to Cause Disruptions and Steal Data, (Dec. 10, 2020), Available at 
345A_Joint_Cybersecurity_Advisory_Distance_ Learning_S508C.pdf.
    Cyber incidents at K-12 educational institutions can have a 
major impact on schools' ability to operate, can cause 
significant financial losses, and can put at risk student and 
employee privacy. For example, after the Broward County School 
District in Florida refused to pay a $40 million ransom demand, 
the ransomware group Conti posted 26,000 files online, 
including the name of a 9-year-old student being evaluated for 
a disability.\5\ In another incident, Haverhill Public Schools 
in Massachusetts were forced to close for a day, canceling 
remote classes and delaying the return of in-person instruction 
for some grades due a ransomware attack that disrupted the 
districts' networks.\6\ Furthermore, in November 2020, a 
ransomware incident shut down Baltimore County schools for two 
days for 111,000 students and cost the district at least $7.7 
million to respond and recover from the attack.\7\
    \5\Scott Travis, ``Hackers Post 26,000 Broward School Files 
Online,'' South Florida Sun-Sentinel, (April 19, 2021), Available at 
    \6\Mike LaBella, ``Haverhill Schools Hit by Ransomware,'' The 
Eagle-Tribune, (April 7, 2021), Available at https://
    \7\Lillian Reed, ``Cost of Ransomware Attack on Baltimore County 
Public Schools Climbs to $7.7M,'' The Baltimore Sun, (June 11, 2021), 
Available at https://www.baltimoresun.com/education/bs-md-ransomware-
    To assist K-12 educational institutions' efforts to enhance 
their cybersecurity, the ``K-12 Cybersecurity Act'' requires 
CISA to conduct a study of the cybersecurity risks facing K-12 
educational institutions and develop recommendations based on 
that study. By developing an online training toolkit for 
schools, and making the study and recommendations publicly 
available, CISA will be able to provide K-12 educational 
institutions with information they can use to better protect 
their networks and reduce their cybersecurity risk.
    The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs 
Committee favorably reported an identical bill authored by 
Senator Gary C. Peters of Michigan, S. 1917, by voice vote on 
July 14, 2021. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent on 
August 9, 2021.


    For the purposes of clause 3(c)(6) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, the following hearing 
was used to develop H.R. 4691:
    The Committee did not hold a legislative hearing on H.R. 
4691 in the 117th Congress. However, the legislation was 
informed by an oversight hearing on May 5, 2021. The 
Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and 
Innovation held a hearing entitled, ``Responding to Ransomware: 
Exploring Policy Solutions to a Cybersecurity Crisis.'' The 
Subcommittee received testimony from Maj. Gen. John Davis 
(Ret.), Vice President and Federal Chief Security Officer at 
Palo Alto Networks; Ms. Megan Stifel, Executive Director, 
Americas at the Global Cyber Alliance; Mr. Denis Goulet, 
Commissioner, Department of Information Technology and Chief 
Information Officer, State of New Hampshire (on behalf of the 
National Association of State Chief Information Officers); and 
Mr. Christopher Krebs, former Director, Cybersecurity and 
Infrastructure Security Agency, Department of Homeland 

                        COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    The Committee met on July 28, 2021, a quorum being present, 
to consider H.R. 4691 and ordered the measure to be favorably 
reported to the House, without amendment, by voice vote.

                            COMMITTEE VOTES

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII requires the Committee to list the 
recorded votes on the motion to report legislation and 
amendments thereto.
    No recorded votes were requested during consideration of 
H.R. 4691.


    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII, the 
Committee advises that the findings and recommendations of the 
Committee, based on oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) 
of rule X, are incorporated in the descriptive portions of this 


    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974, and with respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(3) of 
rule XIII and section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974, the Committee adopts as its own the estimate of any new 
budget authority, spending authority, credit authority, or an 
increase or decrease in revenues or tax expenditures contained 
in the cost estimate prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office.

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                   Washington, DC, August 10, 2021.
Hon. Bennie G. Thompson,
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 4691, the K-12 
Cybersecurity Act of 2021.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Aldo 
                                         Phillip L. Swagel,


    H.R. 4691 would require the Cybersecurity and 
Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to study cybersecurity 
challenges that are unique to primary and secondary schools, 
such as safeguarding student records and securing remote-
learning technology. The bill also would require CISA to make 
available on a public website its recommendations on how 
schools can mitigate cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities.
    On the basis of information from CISA about the costs of 
similar activities, CBO estimates that staff salaries and other 
expenses to produce the required study and recommendations 
would be less than $500,000 over the 2021-2026 period. Such 
spending would be subject to the availability of 
    For this estimate, CBO assumes that the bill will be 
enacted in fiscal year 2021. Under that assumption, CISA could 
incur some costs in 2021, but CBO expects that most of the 
costs would be incurred in 2022 and later.
    On July 21, 2021, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for S. 
1917, the K-12 Cybersecurity Act of 2021, as ordered reported 
by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs on July 14, 2021. The two bills are similar, and CBO's 
estimates of their costs are the same.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Aldo Prosperi. 
The estimate was reviewed by Leo Lex, Deputy Director of Budget 

                       FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform 


    Pursuant to clause 3(c) of rule XIII, the Committee finds 
that H.R. 4691 does not contain any provision that establishes 
or reauthorizes a program known to be duplicative of another 
Federal program.


    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the objective of 
H.R. 4691 is to direct the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure 
Security Agency to study the specific cybersecurity risks 
facing K-12 educational institutions and to develop 
cybersecurity recommendations to assist K-12 educational 
institutions in securing their information systems and records.


    In compliance with rule XXI, this bill, as reported, 
contains no congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or 
limited tariff benefits as defined in clause 9(d), 9(e), or 
9(f) of rule XXI.


    The Committee finds that H.R. 4691 does not relate to the 
terms and conditions of employment or access to public services 
or accommodations within the meaning of section 102(b)(3) of 
the Congressional Accountability Act.


Section 1. Short Title.

    This section states that the Act may be cited as the ``K-12 
Cybersecurity Act of 2021''.

Sec. 2. Findings.

    This section provides congressional findings that K-12 
educational institutions in the United States are facing cyber 
attacks, that these cyber attacks put at risk the disclosure of 
sensitive student and employee information, and that providing 
resources to K-12 educational institutions will help them 
prevent, detect, and respond to cyber events.

Sec. 3. K-12 Education Cybersecurity Initiative.

    Subsection (a) defines the terms ``cybersecurity risk,'' 
``director,'' ``information system,'' and ``K-12 educational 
    Subsection (b) directs the CISA Director to conduct a study 
within 120 days on the cybersecurity risks facing K-12 
educational institutions. The study will consider how 
cybersecurity risks impact K-12 educational institutions and 
will evaluate the challenges K-12 educational institutions face 
in securing systems and records and in implementing 
cybersecurity protocols. It will also identify the 
cybersecurity challenges in remote learning and will evaluate 
the most accessible ways to communicate cybersecurity 
recommendations and tools. The Committee expects the study to 
consider the unique cybersecurity risks facing rural and small 
K-12 educational institutions. Within 120 days of enactment, 
CISA must brief Congress on its findings.
    Subsection (c) requires the CISA Director to develop, 
within 60 days of the study's completion, recommendations based 
on the study, including cybersecurity guidelines for K-12 
educational institutions.
    Subsection (d) requires the CISA Director to develop, 
within 120 days of the completion of the development of the 
recommendations, an online training toolkit for K-12 
educational institutions to assist in implementing the 
    Subsection (e) requires the CISA Director to make the 
findings of the study, the cybersecurity recommendations, and 
the online training toolkit publicly available on the 
Department of Homeland Security's website.
    Subsection (f) clarifies that use of the cybersecurity 
recommendations is voluntary.
    Subsection (g) directs the CISA Director to consult with 
teachers, school administrators, Federal agencies, non-Federal 
cybersecurity agencies with experience in education issues, and 
private sector organizations while conducting the required 
study and developing the cybersecurity recommendations. It also 
exempts those consultations from the Federal Advisory Committee