News Detail

Digital Citizenship and Cybersecurity Awareness Month

By Nick Marchese
October is Digital Citizenship and Cybersecurity Awareness Month! Director of Academic Technology Nick Marchese takes this opportunity to share three initiatives that are important pieces of cybersecurity at Emma Willard School.

Digital Citizenship & Technology Skills Education

Emma Willard’s approach to digital citizenship is well summarized by the Emma Willard School Technology Statement: “Emma Willard School aims to create a community where technology is used positively, safely, and with integrity. [...] We strive to teach our students the skills and confidence to navigate responsibly and contribute productively as empathetic citizens in a digital world.” The Academic Technology department seeks to engage all students in conversations and skill-building exercises focused around safe and responsible technology and internet use, effective communication and organization skills, and healthy digital life habits. The following are just some of the ways we’re partnering with different groups and programs at Emma to explore Digital Citizenship and Technology Skills throughout the school year in all grades:
  • In READY Seminar, we’re partnering with the Library to help students evaluate social media privacy settings and take a close look at our digital footprints. 
  • In Class Meetings, we’re listening to student technology experiences and responding by guiding students to find the resources they need (or to encourage them to create their own resources).
  • In classes, we’re instilling foundational technology skills needed, such as composing an appropriate email, using a calendar, or knowing the difference between a document and a PDF.

Multi-factor Authentication

Multi-factor Authentication (or MFA) is a security enhancement that adds a second layer of identity verification to secure your accounts. When logging into an account, this usually involves two things: 
  1. Something you know (your password)
  2. Something you have (your phone, for example).
By combining your password with an additional verification method, it becomes extremely difficult for someone to log into an account, even if they know the password. Hackers would need to steal both your password and your phone to access your account.

While the extra step involved in MFA can feel cumbersome at first, it is one way that an individual can protect themselves against online crime. Many businesses and schools offer MFA as an option you can choose to enable. At Emma Willard, not only do we require all employees have MFA enabled on their school accounts, but we take it one step further and require all students have MFA enabled on their school accounts as well. 

To support students, we explain the importance of MFA and steps needed to properly configure their school accounts, both during orientation and whenever they get a new phone. For example, here is a short video from Duo that we all watch together helping explain the concept of MFA.

Do you have MFA enabled for your accounts? You can read more about MFA on the National Institute of Standards and Technology website and learn how to set it up on all of your essential accounts using the 2fa Directory.

Cybersecurity Awareness Program & Phishing Simulations

Raising security awareness is important to the safety of every organization. To help combat the ongoing problem of phishing, our organization has enrolled all of our employees and students in comprehensive security awareness training. We need to defend our organization against cybercrime, we want to equip everyone with the tools to protect themselves against cybercrime, and we want our community to understand that security is everyone’s job. 

Phishing is a type of cybercrime where hackers try to gain access to sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords, by pretending to be a person or organization they trust. We have partnered with KnowBe4, the world’s leading Security Awareness Training organization, to perform security awareness training and simulated phishing attacks that will help us create a “human firewall” by training our students on how to spot and report malicious emails.

Earlier this month, the student population underwent a Baseline Phishing Simulation where they were sent a simulated phishing email asking them to “Check Their Password,” with a link sending them to a simulated phishy looking website. After all students interacted with the email, we had a presentation during Morning Reports where we discussed the importance of implementing a Cybersecurity Awareness Program and Phishing Simulations, the difference between Spam and Phishing, and next steps on identifying and protecting themselves against malicious emails.

In the coming weeks, students will participate in two training modules focused around cybersecurity essentials and the foundations of phishing attacks. Training materials will continue to be selected and distributed to the student community by the Academic Technology department in partnership with the Emma Genius club. Beginning next month, students will begin receiving simulated phishing emails from our program every two weeks to continue practicing identifying and reporting phishing emails. Our end goal is to increase security awareness and decrease the number of clicks on malicious emails.

What is the difference between Spam and Phishing? Click through this slide to learn more.

If you have questions or would like more information about cybersecurity education initiatives at Emma Willard School, reach out to Director of Academic Technology Nick Marchese (
    • Mr. Marchese leads students through tech set-up

    • Learning to spot suspicious email is key to protecting your personal information

What's Next?

Our Mission

Honoring its founder’s vision, Emma Willard School proudly fosters in each young woman a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape her world.
285 Pawling Avenue, Troy, NY 12180 | P: 518.833.1300 F: 518.833.1815
Welcome to Emma Willard School, a private day and boarding high school for girls in Troy, NY, and a leader in girls' education for over 200 years. 

PLEASE NOTE: All visitors to campus must check in with Campus Safety, which can be found at the red flag entrance to Sage Hall (Pawling Ave. entrance).