Serving Kentucky's Schools and Student Athletes Since 1917

10/15/21 – Esports in Public Schools on the KY K-12 Internet Service

October 15, 2021 Athletic Department Blog Updates

Print

The KHSAA has received feedback from a number of member schools regarding connection issues they are encountering when trying to play games on the Nintendo Switch from their campus. The following information is being provided from discussion with the Kentucky Department of Education regarding what is and is not permissible on the KY K-12 Internet Service.

On average, KY K-12 schools get four billion attempted cyberattacks each year. However, during the past 20 months of the pandemic, the number of attempted cyberattacks on KY K-12 schools has significantly increased above that four billion. Given all the new federal relief funds coming to K-12 to help address the pandemic, it is anticipated by national cybersecurity experts, that K-12 will be getting 86% more attempted cyberattacks going forward over the next school year.

Therefore, KDE will be taking measures and actions to further strengthen the KY K-12 cybersecurity defenses going forward. It is important to note that KDE will not do anything that weakens or compromises that cybersecurity defense given all its KY K-12 cloud-based instructional and administrative systems, used daily/hourly by KY K-12 schools, rely on a capable, reliable and stable KY K-12 Internet service.

Therefore, any technology enabled service that uses the KY K-12 Internet service from any KY K-12 public school and district office in KY, must work within the existing KY K-12 cybersecurity design. That means the vendor marketing or selling their product to KY K-12 public schools must make the changes to their product to allow their product to work within that KY K-12 cybersecurity framework and should not be asking any district or the KDE to change or turn off any component of its cybersecurity defense design, so their product/service will work over the KY K-12 Internet service.

  1. Any game offered by PlayVS to school districts must work over the existing KY K-12 cybersecurity design framework of the KY K-12 Internet service in order to be played from a school facility;
  2. If a game needs a weak cybersecurity defense environment from the location that it’s being played from in order to work, that game will not work over the existing cybersecurity framework for the KY K-12 Internet services provided to each school district. Therefore either (a) the vendor selling that game needs to change their product so it will work over the cybersecurity defense framework for the KY K-12 Internet services or (b) that game will need to be played from a location and Internet service (e.g., a home, an Internet hotspot) that doesn’t use the KY K-12 Internet service.

Right now, it appears the Nintendo Smash Brothers game will either require the vendor selling it to make significant changes to their product/service so it works over the increased cybersecure defense for the KY K-12 Internet service or this game needs to be played from a location (home, Internet hotspot) that does not use or connect to the KY K-12 Internet service.

In short, the KDE will not be turning off, changing or compromising any component of its existing KY K-12 cybersecurity defense design, or significantly increasing the risk/probability of a successful cybersecurity attack, for its KY K-12 schools so an esport game can be played over the KY K-12 Internet service from a KY K-12 school building.

Going forward, teams have the ability to compete from a remote location off campus or through use of an internet hotspot. However, there is a cybersecurity and a cybersafety aspect that must also be met if the district is providing/paying for any Internet service (i.e., Internet hotspots) on or off the school campus that is being used by any KY K-12 student, teacher or staff member for a school related activity.

Internet hotspots paid for by school districts (1) can’t create a hole in the KY K-12 cybersecurity defense and (2) must meet the KY K-12 Internet cybersafety law requirements. Obviously, if a KY K-12 student is using a student/parent paid for Internet service (e.g., regular wired Internet service, wireless hotspot) from a location beyond the school campus, then neither 1 or 2 mentioned above needs to be considered.

From a KY K-12 cybersecurity perspective, a Nintendo Switch is only to be connected to an external Internet hotspot service that is not at the same time connected/bridged to the district’s internal LAN or the KY K-12 Internet service. KDE does not want an Internet hotspot on the school campus to create a hole in its KY K-12 cybersecurity defense system for a cybercriminal to exploit.

From a KY K-12 cybersafety perspective, a 1998 state law (i.e., Senate Bill 230) and the subsequent state regulation that came from that law (i.e., 701 EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT CABINET – KEN Chapter: \701\005.120 (ky.gov) requires every KY K-12 public school to be going through an Internet content management filtering system for cybersafety purposes for school related activities while using state or school district provided/paid for Internet service on the school campus. This includes Internet hotspots paid for and provided by school districts to be used by students for the purposes of esports. Therefore, if the district is paying for an Internet hotspot service that is being used by KY K-12 students, teachers and staff on or off the school campus for a school related activity like eSports, then that Internet service has to be using and going through an approved KY K-12 Internet content/filtering management system as well.

Questions regarding the use of an Internet hotspot should be directed to your district’s CIO/EdTech staff.

-KHSAA-

About the Kentucky High School Athletic Association
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association was organized in 1917 and is the agency designated by the Kentucky Department of Education to manage high school athletics in the Commonwealth. The Association is a voluntary nonprofit 501(c)3 organization made up of 286 member schools both public and non-public. The KHSAA awards 215 state championships to 51 teams and 164 individuals in 13 sports and 6 sport-activities, funds catastrophic insurance coverage for its more than 106,000 rostered member school student-athletes, provides coaching education and sports safety programs for more than 12,000 coaches, and licenses and facilitates the distribution of training material for over 4,000 contest officials.

Print