Cybersecurity Issues in Online Learning and How to Address Them
Cybersecurity Issues in Online Learning and How to Address Them
As schools move all or parts of their learning activities online, they expose themselves to unprecedented cybersecurity issues. Since most educators and students lack the technical knowledge to mitigate the effects of cyber attacks or prevent them entirely, hackers exploit this loophole to their advantage.

For students reliant on online paper writing services and paper writers from best essay service to address schoolwork, sharing unnecessary information on the internet can leave them vulnerable to various forms of malware attack.

In this article, we discuss cybersecurity issues in online learning, as well as explore ways to address them.

Phishing is a form of attack where the criminal masquerades as a legal entity in order to convince unsuspecting online users to share personal information with them.

Let’s say a student uses the EssayHub writing service to deal with their homework. A hacker could spoof the agency’s email to trick the student into sharing their personal details with them.

Sometimes, the hacker sends multiple spoofed emails to people on an email list in the hopes of landing an unfortunate victim. This technique is called email phishing.

Another common method of phishing involves targeting a specific person’s email address. This technique is called spear phishing, and the victims are often administrators or people in the higher echelons of an academic institution.

As the name implies, ransomware attacks occur when a hacker restricts access to online academic resources until the school administration meets their demands. Often, the demands come in the form of monetary compensation.

Most ransomware attacks result from the natural progression of phishing attacks. Once the student or teacher clicks on the malicious email, the hacker gains access to the entire system to deploy the ransomware.

According to Statista, over 300 million ransomware attacks occurred across the globe in 2020 alone. And based on recent projections, this number will continue to increase as hackers find more loopholes to exploit.

Human Negligence
CollegisEducation estimates that over 90% of online cyber-attacks result from human error. Since most teachers are not tech experts, they make costly mistakes that leave the learning management system vulnerable to hacking.

For example, granting free access to the public provides an opportunity for a hacker to enter the system, even without using a password-deciphering algorithm. Also, choosing weak passwords puts the system at risk.

So, if the person in charge of the learning platform lacks the training to keep it safe, online criminals will exploit this flaw.

DDoS Attacks
Hackers use a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack to channel insurmountable amounts of traffic to a system, crumbling the server and rendering the entire platform useless.

Unlike the attacks mentioned earlier, a DDoS attack focuses on disrupting the regular flow of academic processes. The hackers are not in it for monetary gain but, rather, to wreak havoc.

A SecureList report shows that at the start of the pandemic, the rate of DDoS attacks spiked 20% globally, most of which originated from Russia.

How to Prevent Cybersecurity Issues
Plugging a school’s (or platform’s) cybersecurity flaws is a massive challenge that most schools are ill-equipped to handle. Besides, hackers continue to invent effective ways of attacking their targets, making it impossible to figure out a one-fits-all approach to prevent cyberattacks.

Nonetheless, let’s explore some safety protocols to reduce the probability and frequency of cyberattacks.

Specify User Privileges
When working with a public online system, don’t open access to the public. Specify permission privileges to ensure that only the right participants can use the system. By doing so, you protect the user’s sensitive data from unauthorized access.

Consider creating a unique password for every session to reduce the chances of hackers figuring out the pattern. For multi-user platforms, you can grant permission to users based on their contribution to the system.

Use Only Trusted Third-Party Software
With the current shift to online learning, many companies are rolling out products to address this growing market. However, this influx of products also lowers the bar of entry, thereby exposing potential users to security risks.

To avoid these issues, always use expert-recommended academic services with advanced security features. Administrators should always read user reviews to identify if the product has any underlying security flaws. You can find the lists of such services on professional review platforms such as NoCramming, in this case, essay writing services review platform.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your system, even if the hacker guesses the password correctly. With 2FA, the system sends a confirmation link to an external system from which you can confirm the sign-in attempt.
Educate Students and Staff Members
Devote enough time and resources to educate staff members on how hackers can exploit learning management systems. By providing sufficient information and training to students and teachers, you’ll equip them with the appropriate resources to protect their sensitive data from hackers.
Back Up Your Data
When working with a centralized system, always schedule and execute regular backup operations. Doing so will help you avoid and recover from cyberattacks.

For instance, if a hacker compromises the school’s main server with DDoS or ransomware attacks, you can move to another server while the authorities figure out the culprit.

Cybersecurity issues are inseparable from online activity, specifically online learning. Hackers are constantly looking for ways to exploit the system and steal user data. Although most criminals rely on advanced software programs to gain access, human error and negligence can hand them the keys unopposed. So, get ahead of these cyberattacks by using the right tools and educating administrators and students about online safety.
See Also