Changes in the education system have been brewing for a long time, with digitalization as the main direction of this transformation. The breakthrough came this year as about 1.5 billion students were unable to attend school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, educational systems all over the world underwent significant change. Educators were forced to master new tools like Zoom, while maintaining the quality of education as they taught online.
This digitalization of education is likely to continue, which is good and bad at the same time. On the one hand, there are new tools and possibilities including ones that were originally not associated with education at all. TikTok accounts used for online instruction are a good example. Initially, teachers shunned the platform, preferring YouTube instead, but in 2020, TikTok became a popular choice for distributing educational content. On the other hand, many of these new digital educational tools are both enhancing the educational experience and introducing new threats. Here are the ones most likely to pose the biggest risks in the coming year.
As the number and popularity of LMSs rises, the number of phishing sites associated with educational and videoconferencing services will grow, too. Their main goals are stealing personal data or spreading spam within the educational community. Already in the spring of 2020, 168,550 unique users encountered various threats distributed under the guise of popular online learning platforms or videoconferencing applications, a 20,455% increase when compared to 2019. In addition to that, LMSs open up the potential for new, unexpected threats, such as Zoombombing. Especially if schools continue to conduct remote learning, these systems will continue to be a popular attack vector.
While videos can be a powerful educational tool, there is also a lot of age-inappropriate content that can be found on popular video services (YouTube/TikTok/Instagram, etc.), and creators of this content may use educational topics to attract attention. This threat is not new, but with the growth of digitalization, its relevance will grow too.
Privacy is another concern. A poorly configured application or service is a well-known way of compromising personal data, even without special tools or vulnerabilities. In our case, students and teachers can be victims of such attacks.
In fact, privacy will be the biggest concern in the near future. Managing it in any service requires the user’s involvement, but many users, especially younger children, do not know how to appropriately control their privacy settings. Also, there are many services that provide tools for setting up the educational process online, and educators will most likely be using more than one. As a result, for each tool and in each case, they will need to pay special attention to protecting not only their personal information, but also their students’ data.