The rate of IT security threats across educational institutions, considering only those who have been publicly disclosed, can be reasonably argued as an epidemic. A report by the UK’s Information Commissioner lists education as one of the top subjects of breaches, leading to a 75% jump in data security incidents, in 2 years.
The FBI is only the latest in reaching out to users, students and parents, this time with a K-12-directed plea, to help spread awareness about the existing threats and dangers, as well as the defenses and protective mechanisms available.
Any technology entails a trade-off of skill versus reward. EdTech has continued to grow and be adopted due to its undeniable potential to bring better, more efficient, disruptive learning experiences, for students, teachers and officials alike. But there are critical steps in the interaction between user and technology that could compromise them. Most of the concerns involve the misallocation of sensitive personal data that could be used to exert damages to the individual.
The FBI’s campaign comprises 3 stages of awareness:
- Identify sensitive data ways in which it can be exploited
- Acquaint and train on the protective measures available today
- Promote ongoing debates on risks, liabilities on the individual and institutional levels.
Organizations still have the tendency to hide breaches due to PR concerns, neglecting the fact that they can make the problem worse for everyone in the long run.
Risks are inherent to technology, but we still make use of it because they are ultimately manageable. But since tech evolves, new threats arise, and so should our protective mechanisms. Research, outreach to advocacy groups, regular check-ups and an always welcome dose of common sense are dependable parts of the solution.
Read “Education Technologies: Data Collection and Unsecured Systems Could Pose Risks to Students” at ic3.gov (possible jump scare warning).■
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