Online courses have been available for learning since the internet and technology reached the hands of the common man. Pandemic gave the much-required trigger for taking online teaching and learning to a new level. Regular schools and colleges going online with classes and changing work culture have made the remote working everyday norm. Cyber-attacks have hit around 1000 schools, colleges, and universities around the globe during the period of June-September in the year 2020. This makes it evident that cybersecurity awareness has become a priority in this new normal of teaching and learning. Teaching staff and students utilizing the capabilities of online teaching and learning in their everyday life need to empower themselves to secure their devices and use the technology mindfully to not fall prey to cyberattacks.
Transition to Online Teaching and Learning Regularly
As pandemics cut us off from our routine, teaching and learning went remote. The teaching staff, students, and parents, none was ready for this quick change. The students were not equipped with the technology required such as laptops, internet connections, and many parents were not aware of using the technology and a huge percentage of them were not aware of using the technology safely. In June 2020, Microsoft Security Intelligence reported that the education industry experienced around 61% of the 7.7 million malware attacks
The prime reason for cybersecurity importance for teachers and students is because they are unaware of the technical knowledge.
Cyber Threats for Schools and Teachers
School networks and teachers are facing attacks in 5 ways mentioned below.
The carefully masked attacks are designed to trick the victim to reveal their sensitive information such as credit card details and passwords. Around 90% of attacks begin with phishing as per CoSN.
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDOS)
Cyberattacks are designed to attack numerous systems by flooding the resources of the servers.
Sensitive and private data is collected by cybercriminals by organizing data breaches.
Here the cybercriminals hold the data at ransom in exchange for money or other demands. It is found that ransomware cost is around $7.5 billion in the year 2019.
Tips of Cybersecurity for Teachers
Knowing the threats educators face, now let’s take a peek at precautions to be safe while using computers
Cybercriminals get hands with the content of the classroom during the transition from teacher to student. So, encrypting the data being sent and received would be a safe option to prevent stealing the data.
Understand and follow the cybersecurity protocols set at schools
Spend some time and effort to understand the cybersecurity protocols devised at schools. Make it a routine to follow these rules every day to be safe.
Take backup your data
It is crucial to take a backup of the student data to prevent cybercriminals from getting hands-on with them. Hackers can steal the data and use it for malicious attacks on individuals or hold the institution for ransom.
Follow good password management
It is a wise decision to select a password that is not your nickname or date of birth. The password is alphanumeric, with a combination of both capital and small letters.
Cyber threats for online students and Parents
Parents are forced to expose their children to online education due to pandemics. The instances of cyberattacks on children have been worrisome. Once the children are online, it becomes a challenge to know what they are being exposed to, the videos they are watching, the people they are interacting with. Commonly occurring cyberattacks attacking young children are:
The cybercriminal intends to get in touch with young children to cause emotional and financial harm. The criminals use the innocence and immaturity of the kids and can cajole them to meet people whom they have not met so far. As per Cybertip, there is an 81% increase in child exploitation reports since the onset of the pandemic in Canada.
Cybercriminals send out masked e-mails or messages and trick them to download malware to control their device. They can mask the message in the form of games or apps to tempt the children to click on it.
The advertisements are designed with the intent to spread unwanted messages or spam. Researches indicate that they have come across disturbing advertising methods containing shaming and manipulation.
The cybercriminals are targeting the children to steal the children’s identity and their credit histories. Identity theft results in families experiencing financial losses.
Pandemic has forced children to be at home most of the time. Children are exposed to video games much more than before. An increase in the time spent on video gaming has increased the chances for cybercriminals to use phishing scams, viruses, and mental harassment at the hands of malicious characters.
Tips for cybersecurity for Parents and Children
Remote learning to take the driver’s seat in daily routine. Parents need to know and make their children aware of the safety protocols.
Use passwords and be aware of the privacy
Children should be made aware of the use of passwords and the need to keep them a secret and not share them with anyone. It is also necessary to make children aware of how to create safe passwords.
Regular monitoring and communication
Children using the internet need to be monitored in the initial phase until they become aware of how they conduct themselves and learn to manage online. Parents can keep track of their children’s online activity.
Need to protect the identity and location
Let the child be aware to not share their names, age, school, phone number, and other details on the internet. Disable the geotagging on iPhone or Android phones.
Always use a secured network
Ensure the home’s Wi-Fi connection is encrypted with a strong password with restricted access to outsiders.
Exercise Parental Control
As kids as small as 7 or less than 7 are learning remotely, it has become a necessity to exercise parental control options available on the computer. The options empower the parents to keep in check the child’s entry to unadvisable sites.
Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the upcoming technology to exploit the vulnerabilities of schools, teachers, parents, and children. They are knowledgeable about the technology usage and use with the malicious intent to make quick money and hurt people emotionally and otherwise. They can be lurking around the corner or people whom you come across in the park, grocery store, or café. They can use social media platforms to collect the information they need and hack. So, a need has arisen to be aware of with whom we share our pictures and information.
Parents or teachers can understand and equip themselves better by taking up a cybersecurity certificate program. This would be a wise investment of time and money as remote working and learning are expected to be part of life in the future. If the students are in their teens, they can explore more about the Stanford cybersecurity course. This would not only empower them to protect themselves but also provide an opportunity for a career option available. It is the need of the hour to know about cybersecurity threats and ways to be safe at the same time.
Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources “Joe Joe.” he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.