Everyone involved should be aware that even though hackers have multiple avenues of access to attack computer networks as the greatest vulnerability of any organization lies in human error. For example, opening phishing emails or browsing infected websites can result in ransomware attacks. As a free essay writer, I know that any cybersecurity strategy implemented to decrease the risks of virtual education during the COVID-19 emergency goes through proper training of all the actors involved.
Possible Cyber Attacks
Among the main risk factors faced by students, teachers and universities are phishing, ransomware, and malware. Since many students do not see cybersecurity as really important, they can be easy prey for hackers who find it relatively easy to trick them with malicious emails, sometimes very difficult to distinguish from those sent by legitimate entities, such as banks and the university itself. Opening one of these emails, visiting dangerous sites, or downloading and installing software with viruses can result in a cyberattack and the loss of sensitive data, including personal and banking information.
Another problem can arise from choosing insecure passwords. Students – like many people – tend to use the same password on several sites and many times they are easy words to guess. In addition, the abundance of personal information they post on social networks can make it easy for hackers.
Some risks for virtual education due to COVID-19 will be those inherent to the great heterogeneity of equipment that both teachers and students will use during the emergency.
While the university’s ICT team can implement policies to ensure that users update their systems periodically and that only those with current credentials access the networks, maintaining control can be a nightmare. A failure can result in the intrusion of a virus through university systems.
Perhaps one of the most insidious threats is ransomware. If a ransomware attack were to occur on a global scale, it could have an economic impact of between $2 billion and $6 billion for the education sector alone.
The projection is based on the study of multiple factors that take into account the trends and effects of such attacks around the world in recent years, as well as the measures that have been taken to counter them.
In ransomware attacks, an entity’s or individual’s systems are infected with malware that, in general terms, encrypts information to prevent its owners from accessing it and threatens to delete it within a certain period unless payment is made for its release. According to the custom essay writing service, the most aggressive variants of ransomware can even encrypt cloud backups by exploiting connections established during real-time synchronizations on some systems.
Often, the ransom is demanded to be settled in virtual currencies such as bitcoin, which makes it difficult to track the criminals. Once payment is made, criminals hand over a software key to decrypt the information, but not always: sometimes data is lost even after payment has been made.
More sophisticated scripts take advantage of security flaws in the browsers themselves or other applications connected to the Internet and can be installed on devices without any interaction with the user.
Ways to Reduce the Risks for Online Classrooms
The new normal has not only changed basic activities such as education or work. Cybercriminals have also changed their techniques and methods to launch attacks on the education sector with more success. This is why it is so important to keep your computers and other devices safe.
1. Use a VPN
The virtual private network or VPN is intended to provide the user with secure remote access. It keeps the data running inside this network protected. It is important to implement it since many of the students use their own devices, which might not be updated or have security patches. This could prevent access to cybercriminals. In addition, a VPN also functions as protection for students against cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and the spread of malware.
The tools, programs, and applications used by educational institution staff and students during online classes can represent vulnerabilities. This is because they are mainly located in the cloud, for example, file sharing apps or email. For this reason, VPN becomes essential to ensure more secure access to these platforms.
2. Control Access to Confidential Data
Information is an extremely valuable asset, and schools are no exception. The personal data of students, teachers, and all administrative staff, as well as confidential research or intellectual property data, are an example. This information could be sold on the dark web and if stolen, the consequences would be catastrophic for all involved.
To counter this, institutions should prioritize the installation of tools to access sensitive information based on the permissions of each user. To protect sensitive data use two-factor authentication (2FA) solutions, system keys including IPsec, SSL, and VPN, as well as user portals with password access.
3. Anti-Phishing Education
Education against phishing mentioned earlier, phishing is one of the most common cyber-attacks for the education sector. Everyone can be a victim, from administrative staff to students of any age. Each of them is exposed to social engineering techniques used by cybercriminals to manipulate them into providing information. Either through a malicious link, with files containing malware or requesting the information directly in the mail.
This risk can only be counteracted by raising user awareness. This can be done through training courses or simulated attacks to make them aware of and understand the real risk. In addition, those responsible for each educational institution must ensure that their internal e-mail network complies with security updates and software.
About John J. Gregg
John J. Gregg is an experienced writer on essaywriter.nyc where he provides students with an opportunity to get high grades. Besides, He is fond of reading and playing the guitar. By the way, John dreams of traveling a lot and visiting as many countries as possible.