Cyberattacks are getting more and more rampant today, especially now that more and more sectors and institutions are becoming increasingly reliant on technology. A cyberattack is any intentional effort to alter, destroy, disable, expose, or steal data, applications, or other assets through unauthorized access to a computer system, digital device, or network. Interestingly enough, among the most common victims of cyberattacks nowadays are schools. 

According to statistics published by IT products and services provider AAG IT Services, almost a billion emails were exposed in a single year, affecting one in five Internet users. Data breaches cost businesses an average of $4.35 million in 2022. Furthermore, around 236.1 million ransomware attacks occurred worldwide during the first half of 2022.

In educational institutions, according to the results of a survey published on the website Dark Reading, almost a million pupils were impacted by 67 ransomware attacks against schools in 2021.

These data are alarming. So, technology corporations like Big Blue are investing to help combat these issues. 

IBM today announced in its official news release that it is providing in-kind grants worth $5 million to select schools in the United States and around the globe to help combat cyberattacks. 

“Time and time again, attackers go after the education sector, yet many of these institutions remain constrained in their security resources,” said Andy Piazza, IBM Security X-Force’s Global Head of Threat Intelligence.

The grants are under the IBM Education Security Preparedness Grants program, which is already in its third year now. It was created in 2021 and, since then, has expanded globally. But this year, it will be different. The program will include improved offerings from IBM SkillsBuild on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity topics. 

IBM SkillsBuild is the company’s free education program that is focused on serving underrepresented communities to help adult learners, high school and university students, and teachers develop valuable new skills and access promising career opportunities. 

“To date, this program has helped more than 350,000 students across schools in the US and abroad, with IBM Service Corps helping them recover from ransomware attacks, strengthen their security posture against future attacks, and prevent further disruption,” Piazza added. 

To qualify for the grant, schools will have to apply. Applications for schools are now open worldwide. Grants valued at $500,000 each, totaling $5 million, will be awarded to six school districts in the United States and four internationally. Through IBM Service Corps, volunteers will utilize their professional skills to help these academic institutions establish programs to help combat cyberattacks. 

“The global skills gap across cybersecurity and AI is a growing challenge that demands immediate attention,” stated IBM Chief Impact Officer Justina Nixon-Saintil. 

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