Education Technology

Op-Ed

How Education Institutions Can Improve Online Learning Security

By eLearning Inside
November 24, 2021

Education looks vastly different today than it was a few years ago. While online learning was present even then, it was only a small percentage of all educational institutions. Due to the pandemic, schools, and colleges, and all forms of educational institutions needed to find a way to transfer their processes and procedures online in order to accommodate the restrictions and to ensure their students’ learning progress doesn’t suffer.

Even when restrictions eased and it was possible to return to physical locations, a large number of institutions decided to remain online as they realized how much more convenient and accessible it is. But while they were concentrating on making the process run as smoothly as possible, online learning security wasn’t prioritized as much as it needed to be. Cyberattacks caused numerous schools and colleges to delay classes or even forced them to pay ransom to regain access to their servers.

Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to improve online learning security.

Implement cyber security tools

It is imperative that all educational institutions implement proper cybersecurity tools in order to protect their employees, students, and their data. Tools like firewall and anti-virus protection, browser fingerprinting, data enrichment, end-to-end encryption, and multi-level verification are the first line of defense and when used properly they can stop cyberattacks causing any damage.

Update Everything

This is actually the easiest step you can take to ensure online learning security as you can complete it just by turning on automatic system updates. By keeping your operating system, programs, and applications up to date, you can remove any security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors.

While educational institutions have only control over their equipment, they should educate their students about the importance of keeping their equipment up to date to ensure the safety of both sides.

Secure File Sharing

Regardless of the type of educational institution, students and teachers or instructors need to have a secure method of sharing their files. By having a policy in place that mandates requirements and procedures of file sharing, providing a secure connection for uploads, and encrypting the files you can significantly reduce the risk of a data breach or ransomware attack. Make sure to make this process as simple as possible because students will have different levels of technical knowledge.

Backup all files

Having a backup can make a difference between having all of your data held hostage forcing you to pay the ransom or utilizing your backup and resuming normal business operations. Once you determine what data needs to get backed up, you need to make sure you back it up regularly.

Provide regular training

Ensure that you provide regular cybersecurity training to all of your employees and students to ensure everyone knows what their responsibilities are when it comes to mitigating cyber security risks. They need to be aware of what cyber security threats they might encounter, how to avoid them, or how to react if they happen.

The University of Utah had to pay cybercriminals almost half a million dollars after a ransomware attack on some of its computer servers, and it is just one in the long line of educational institutions that have become a victim of cyberattacks. By following these steps, and staying proactive you can avoid becoming one of them.

Featured Image: cottonbro, Unsplash. 

9 Comments

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