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The growing challenges for cybersecurity with the digitalisation of education

The growing challenges for cybersecurity with the digitalisation of education

Even prior to COVID-19, it was evident that the education sector was careening in high-speed towards digitalisation. In the recent past, e-learning and other distance learning platforms have gained immense popularity in Australia and other parts of the world. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 79% of children aged 5-14 years use the internet, mostly for education, and just over 86% of them access it from school. This is a significant increase in e-learning resources across this age group, alone. 

With these opportunities, however, come certain challenges. Cybersecurity is one area that has become fraught with complications the more we migrate to digital spaces. This is especially the case when it comes to education systems. Today, the wealth of patented resources, research and personal user information are lucrative incentives for determined cybercriminals.

In this era of hyper-digitalisation, then, what are the challenges education service providers and users are facing?

The dearth of privacy in the age of e-learning

For many, one of the biggest drawbacks of e-learning is the pool of user data that is collected, stored, and used by educational institutions. In this era of data sharing, these practices can make e-learning systems a major security target.

By educating users on how their information is being used and tracked, it’s much easier to lay down security policies that will be followed. These measures end up creating a more cyber-aware culture where users understand how their data is being used and know what to do to prevent information security risks. 

This level of transparency can inspire greater user confidence and their willingness to use e-learning platforms. It provides students with a sense of accountability over their data, helping them follow through on best practices. 

Information security management for security teams

Beyond just user interactions with their data, security teams at education institutions bear the brunt of information security management. This responsibility is tested with a spate of cyber attacks that are common in this sector including:

  • Software vulnerabilities, attacks, failures and errors
  • Human errors
  • Spear phishing and other forms of data theft
  • Hardware failures
  • Intellectual property violations
  • Confidentiality attacks
  • Authorisation attacks
  • Integrity attacks

While these are just general categories, actual threats span a vast area of internal vulnerabilities and external risks. 

To meet these challenges, security teams need to commit to a full-blown e-learning security strategy. This needs to incorporate various elements like awareness training, firewalls and anti-virus software, cryptography, penetration testing, and digital rights management, for instance. 

When armed with these tools, services, and strategies, it’s easier for security teams to manage their information security risks. Here, while best practices are useful, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. E-learning institutes generally use various systems, software, policies, and website platforms, which determine the specific vulnerabilities and risks they encounter. 

Making cybersecurity a cornerstone of e-learning

Another challenge educational institutions may grapple with in this shift to digital e-learning is prioritising cybersecurity—especially among smaller organisations.

Here, allocating resources, time and even the energy to understand which cybersecurity policies, tools, and strategies work best can be a major drain. Moreover, certain organisations may not even have the know-how to implement the required defensive capabilities.

In these scenarios, seeking the support of security service providers can be invaluable. Many service providers today cater to smaller organisations and provide security services and support with an affordable price tag. This includes round-the-clock security monitoring, penetration testing, and security awareness training, among other key solutions.

Stay ahead of the cybersecurity challenges associated with the digitalisation of education

With the digitalisation of education, organisations need to be prepared to meet a new set of cybersecurity challenges that may seem unfamiliar. The key, here, is to not ignore these risks but take action; even if it means turning to experts for support. 

By bolstering your e-learning cybersecurity and making sure you’re committing to powerful information security, educational success is easier to come by. Give your users the confidence and peace of mind they need to access and engage with your e-learning resources.

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