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Best Practices for Data Security in Online Learning

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Cyber Security StoryOver the past few years, there has been a significant rise in people who are opting for online learning. While this trend was, about to take place at a rapid pace, when the world was hit by the pandemic. A catalyst expedited the popularity and adoption of online learning.

Although there is a myriad of advantages to learning virtually, there are also some risks. eLearning will not be as bright as it appears to be without troubleshooting the manifold of online learning security loopholes. In this article, you will come across some of the best data security practices you can incorporate while studying online.

Before we go deep into the practices, let me give you the premise of online learning security risks. Unlike financial institutions or any other organisations, schools that incorporate online learning are at great risk of security threats and loopholes.

This is due to their limited resources in implementing data security measures. Hence, the following steps will come in handy for many people, especially those in charge of carrying out online learning for students across various institutions.

Secure all Devices

The first step towards increasing data security online is securing the devices being used. If a single student’s device contains a loophole, hackers can get access to that easily and use that as an entry point to infiltrate the whole network and steal or manipulate school resources.

So, the concerned IT person must make sure that every device that is being used for e-learning is safe to use. Watching out a few basic things like ensuring that the device is running an updated operating system and is protected by a legit antivirus program will make a whole lot of difference.

Encrypt Data

Hackers often use vulnerable websites to infiltrate people’s computers, and their personal, social media or bank accounts. There are two important steps you can take to prevent it. Never visit a website that is not secure.

A secure website can be identified by its address. Websites that are safe to visit will show HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). An extension indicates that the website’s data has been secured via installing an SSL certificate.

So, if you want to visit a website as part of your online learning, ensure that it is secure. Similarly, if you have a website where you host all your learning resources, make sure that it is secure by installing a reliable and low priced or cheap SSL certificate.

Strictly Limit Access to School Resources

Do not give unauthorized access to your school’s online resources. The access should be restricted to a limited number of students who would use a unique username and password to log in to their respective accounts with the school learning resources.

Encourage Everyone to Use Strong Passwords

Encourage your students and teachers to use strong passwords. Enabling two-factor authentication is a great way to ensure data security in online learning. This will effectively prevent hackers’ access to your student’s email accounts and other online learning sources.Information Security

Secure Your Emails

Hackers have been using phishing emails to target vulnerable people and get access to their data. Students who do not have a great deal of exposure to using emails can easily find themselves under this threat if not being careful enough.

While sending any important documents like certificates or payment screenshots or any other critical information to a recipient, make sure to encrypt them by using the email encryption protocol S/MIME. This will prevent hackers from decoding the information in the messages.

Secure Video Conferencing

Videoconferencing is the most widely used medium in online learning. Obviously, hackers take every possible step to get access to it. Therefore, it is important to be proactive and act wisely to ensure that only authorised students get access to it.

If you are using an application such as Google Meet for video conferencing, generate a new link every time to schedule a meeting and share it with your students. This way, you can avoid an old link getting passed on to an unauthorized person who will subsequently use it to access your conferences.

Train Students and Teachers

Before launching the online model of teaching, it is highly advisable to train both your students and teachers about data security in online learning. Most students or teachers may not be aware of it or only have a vague idea about it. It is important to show them how to be safe online to protect their own data and the data of your organisation.

Regularly Audit the Security Measures

It is recommended to audit your existing security practices on a regular basis to see if it needs modifications. Hackers design new methods to infiltrate systems and there is always the need to reinvent the way data security is looked at.

Enable two-factor for LMS

If you plan to use any third party Learning Management System (LMS), for instance, Canvas or Blackboard, you may have to provide some of your personal data to get started. Letting such accounts vulnerable to hackers will put the personal data or credit/debit card details you shared there at greater risk.  Use two-factor authentication to avoid any such mishaps.

Design a recovery plan

Despite all the good practices you incorporate in order to tighten your data security in learning, you cannot be 100% sure that you won’t be hacked. So, it is good to have a quick recovery plan at hand to deal with an unpleasant attack on your critical data.

Conclusion

With great benefits come great responsibilities. Online learning is certainly a great way to learn or teach. However, it has its share of demerits too. Challenge to online learning security is the most common one.

The steps we discussed above should help you deal with most of the threats and help you keep your online resources and critical personal data secured. However, keep yourself up-to-date with the new threats and challenges to have more peace of mind during your online learning.