2020 has been one of the most challenging years in recent times mainly due to the coronavirus. Everyone, including children, was affected in one way or another by the pandemic, thus necessitating adjustments. Students had to switch to online classes, but that switch presented a challenge in the form of cybercrime.
Schools had to tap into video conferencing, cloud technology and the internet to make sure that children continued to learn. Unfortunately, the rush to online schooling brought with concerns about cyber vulnerabilities. Most of the students studying online were exposed to cybersecurity threats and spying.
There was a 30 percent increase in weekly cyberattacks reported in every educational facility in July and August with the reported cases increasing from 368 to 608 within the same period. There were likely many other cases that went unreported for privacy purposes.
Unexpected challenges to online schooling
Many cities postponed their first day of online schooling after experts discovered malware discovered installed in computers in school IT systems, and also ransomware in IT systems which caused outages. The cyberattacks were so intense that the first day the authorities pushed back to address the problems. Neither teachers nor students were educated on such threats, and this made the situation worse. The teachers and students did not know how such attacks could affect them or how to avoid becoming victims of malware.
The infamous Zoom videoconferencing platform was the next viable option, but it too faced a unique set of challenges. The platform was overwhelmed by a large number of users that it crashed, making it challenging to hold digital classes. Many other candidates were competing in the education space, but the Zoom crash highlighted a problem that was likely going to present the same issue to the competition.
The rushed decision to commence online learning revealed the underlying cybersecurity risks. It also demonstrated that the system was not prepared to handle the transition. Fortunately, school boards learned from the situation. Many of them rolled out cybersecurity strategies, and awareness programs to teach teachers and students about cybersecurity.