Ever since the onset of Covid-19, the pandemic has transformed lives in unimaginable ways. With the world transitioning to online modes of operations, it has brought about a major change in the way education and learning has been imparted. It has ushered a necessary yet important transition towards online learning. The adaptability and acceptance of online learning has improved and so has the mindset towards it.
With this, upskilling, which has become an almost mandated part of every employee’s journey also joined the virtual bandwagon, and leveraged Edtech in a big way. In order to deliver a classroom like experience virtually, EdTech platforms deploy interactive technologies in order to create an environment that promotes engagement and dialogue.
Through this, employees can enjoy a wholesome learning experience, as well as the advantage of being able to study on the go, and at their conveniences.
However, with the world shifting to the online paradigm, cyber crime has also found a way to creep in. Cyberattacks continue to plague the education sector, and they’re only intensifying. EdTech platforms are prime targets for cyberattacks, given the wealth of data hosted in their servers.
Cyberattacks on e-learning portals is a global problem
In March 2021, 15 schools in the UK were forced to shut down their e-learning facilities because of a cyberattack that crippled their networks. Additionally, in the US, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a warning to K-12 schools about being a potential target for cyberattacks. In India too, an edtech unicorn had reportedly suffered a data breach in January 2020, according to security research firm Cyble, which left data of over 22 million users up for sale.
Problems caused by Edtech security risks
The online classes offered by Edtech start-ups come with a massive risk of data breaches and ransomware attacks that can become incredibly costly. Besides ransomware shutting entire districts down, there are other problems caused by EdTech security risks such as:
- Account Takeovers
- Data Loss
- Loss of Brand Equity and Reputation
- Zoombombing and Other Video Vulnerabilities
- Classroom and Learning Disruption
Protecting the e-learning experience starts with preparation
While the risks of cyberattacks are not to be taken lightly, we can ensure that with the right amount of precaution and preparation, participants are minimally impacted, and continue to enjoy their e-learning experience. Listed below are ten useful tips that educational institutions can implement or practice to keep their online learning experience secure:
- Put in place a strong cybersecurity policy
- Implement cloud safety measures
- Keep the devices protected by installing anti-malware and anti-virus software
- Regularly update software, anti-virus etc.
- Use trusted resources only and check it for authenticity
- Build an incident response plan and be reactive
- Secure your virtual classroom
- Avoid suspicious communication
- Deploy two-factor or multifactor authentication
- Back-up data on regular basis
Keeping the user’s experience at the core of their operations, the Edtech start-up ecosystem must re-evaluate and put in place a robust cybersecurity infrastructure. It has become imperative to prioritize investments in appropriate device protection solutions prior to the incident occurring. It’s also important to join forces with students as well as their parents to generate awareness about basic endpoint security and cybersecurity hygiene. The latter is especially important because home networks tend to be less secure than the ones used at universities or organizations.
(The author Neelesh Kripalani is Senior VP & Head – Center of Excellence, Clover Infotech and the views expressed in this article are his own)