Indian Education Sector is the next sweet spot for the largest Cyber Attacks
More than 1.5 billion children and young people have been affected by school closures worldwide. Many of these students are now taking classes as well as socializing more online. Spending more time on virtual platforms can leave children vulnerable to online sexual exploitation and grooming, as predators look to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, Indian educational institutions and online platforms have now become a major target for cyberthreats, according to a report compiled by the Threat Research and Information Analytics Division of CloudSEK -- a Singapore-based AI-driven digital risk management enterprise.
Based on the report, out of total targeted threats, 58% were aimed at India or India-based institutions, followed by the USA, UK, Indonesia and Brazil. In India, major attacks were seen on BYJU’s, IIM Kozhikode, as well as Tamil Nadu’s Directorate of Technical Education. This rise in cyberattacks on educational institutions is partly due to the massive spike in remote learning caused due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, where more novice internet users are lured to get trapped. The report states, cybercriminals that are breaching these institutions are actively also leaking databases, accesses, vulnerabilities, and exploits among other confidential information belonging to the institution on the dark web.
The report further elaborates, with the given size and impact of the education sector, it is critical for institutions, students, parents, teachers and the government to ensure that information gathered and stored is not leaked and exploited by cybercriminals.
Virtual education witnessed a big jump in terms of adoption and growth. EdTech players and e-learning platforms, in collaboration with premier institutes and top companies, introduced different online programmes to target both students and professionals. Experts say, the next bubble burst will be the Online Education business. Researchers call for educational institutions to improve their cybersecurity as well as ask them to conduct awareness among the staff and students to be prepared to ward off cyber threats. They also ask institutions to block illegitimate IP addresses as well as deactivate port forwarding using network firewalls.
Secondly, the education platforms should perform real-time monitoring of the internet to identify and mitigate low-hanging threats, such as misconfigured apps, exposed data and leaked access to address looming cyber threats. The report also says that the adoption of remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic, digitisation of education, and prevalence of online learning platforms are key triggers that enlarged the attack surface.
At the same time, the investors felt that India plays a significant role in online education- the market has grown by four times since 2019, to $3 billion- with around 40 million students entering the higher education ecosystem each year. Out of the organized workforce in India, around 40% employees need to be reskilled through professional certifications. With over 5000 EdTech start-ups across the learning life cycle, the stage is set for online education to be India’s next digital export to the world.
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