The Garrison school district has made several upgrades to its information technology systems in response to a routine cybersecurity audit conducted by the Office of the New York State Comptroller, according to Carl Albano, the interim superintendent. 

The comptroller issued a report on Jan. 19 in which it determined that “district officials did not adequately secure the district’s network user accounts, establish physical controls, maintain complete and accurate inventory records for IT equipment or develop an IT contingency plan.”

The comptroller conducts IT audits at a sampling of districts each year. Haldane was audited in 2019-20 (after which 74 dormant user accounts were deleted) and Putnam Valley in 2022. In addition, the agency audited the Beacon and Haldane district websites in 2018-19.

The Garrison audit, which covered July 2021 to January 2023, concluded that staff did not have sufficient documentation or guidance to respond to an unexpected IT disruption or disaster. It also found that 40 of the 115 enabled non-student user accounts, or 35 percent, were no longer needed, and that 10 assets, including nine laptops and a printer, were not properly recorded in an inventory.

Albano said the district found the audit helpful in identifying ways to improve digital security. “They pointed out a few things that we were not aware of,” he said. “But 90 percent of the things they pointed out we expected.”

Albano said that the district has addressed key issues identified by the comptroller and is now using two-step authentication for log-ins. It also has moved much of its data off-site to a more secure facility in White Plains operated by the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).

“Today we believe we’re in very, very good shape,” he said.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Joey Asher is a freelance writer and former reporter for The Journal News.

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