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Cyber World

Threats to online learning platforms up by 60 percent in January

Feb 22, 2021, 5:36 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

With the rise of online classes and virtual meetings under the "new normal," cybersecurity group Kasperksy says cyberthreats in online platforms like Zoom have gone up 60 percent last January.

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Virtual communications through online learning and videoconferencing platforms have become necessities in view of the quarantines thrust upon nations by the pandemic.

And these platforms have seen a 60 percent increase in threats from hackers and cybercriminals, which aim to steal as many account IDs as possible and access their financial resources and private datala.

Global cybersecurity company, Kaspersky noted a 60 percent increase in threats from these cybercriminals through these learning platforms like Zoom, Moodle and Google Meet These top three online platforms were used as bait to lure victims.

Schools worldwide renewed closures or pursued hybrid models of learning (in-person and remote). From July to December 270,171 users encountered various threats disguised as popular learning platforms—an increase of 60% when compared January to June, 2020 of 168,550 reported threats. To help educators stay secure, Kaspersky has launched a digital toolkit that teaches cybersecurity best practices.

Last spring, more than 1 billion schoolchildren around the globe were affected by school closures as countries attempted to slow rising infection rates. For many, that meant a switch to emergency remote learning—a transition that, unfortunately, left many students and educators vulnerable to risks.

Now, schools around the globe, from England and Germany to Malaysia and the US, are once again closing as countries fight a resurgence in infections, and, not surprisingly, this has led to some undesirable

The most popular lure was, by far, Zoom. This is not surprising given that Zoom is the most popular platform for virtual meetings, with more than 300 million daily meeting participants. The second most popular was Moodle, followed by Google Meet. The number of users that encountered threats disguised as popular online learning/video conference platforms increased for all but one platform—Google Classroom.

About 98 percent of the threats encountered were divided into riskware and adware. Adware bombards users with unwanted ads, while riskware consists of various files – from browser bars and download managers to remote administration tools – that may carry out various actions on your computer without your consent. Trojans made up roughly 1 percent of the threats encountered.

Users typically encounter threats disguised as popular video meeting apps and online course platforms through fake application installers, which they may encounter on unofficial websites designed to look like the original platforms or emails disguised as special offers or notifications from the platform.

“Unfortunately, until all students are back in the classroom full-time, educational institutions will continue to be a popular target for criminals, particularly since this sector has traditionally not prioritized its cybersecurity. However, the pandemic has made it clear that this has to change, especially since technology is increasingly being incorporated in the classroom—virtual learning or not,” comments Anton Ivanov, security expert at Kaspersky.

To help educators and their students stay secure when using digital tools in the classroom, Kaspersky has put together a variety of resources, including an online course that teaches cybersecurity best practices.

To stay safe from malware and other threats, it is best to:

  • Not download any unofficial versions or modifications of these applications/platforms. Look for information about the developer and choose the official app stores.
  • Use different, strong passwords for each of your accounts.
  • Always make sure you are on the official company website before proceeding to download anything to your device. Fake websites may look just like the real thing, so you should always double-check the URL format and spelling of the company name before you download anything.
  • Use a reliable security solution that delivers advanced protection on all your devices.

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