MANGALURU: The free online classes offered by educational technology (edtech) startups comes with a risk: Data Breach. Stakeholders say that it can be prevented with the right amount of precautions.
Most common data breach is hacking of account details like email, name, password and other personal details of the users. “Stolen passwords are one of the simplest and most common causes of data breaches. Technical vulnerability is another way that crooks can exploit in countless ways,” warns Beas Dev Ralhan, co-founder and CEO, Next Education India Pvt Ltd, in an email to TOI.
He adds that data breaches are often very hard to prevent, but that’s not to say they’re difficult to anticipate. The stolen data is shared with the advertising companies for marketing purposes. In the Next Learning Platform, the access to students/parents credentials rests with the school stakeholders only. So there is no chance of data being shared with the outsiders, he said.
According to Beas Dev, organisations that maintain those programmes routinely look for and address exploits before they are discovered by cyber frauds. Malware is also another perfect example of just how simple cybercrime can be. Crooks purchase a piece of malicious software, find a system that contains a known vulnerability, plant the malware and scoop up the rewards. Data is also sold to some companies that further use it for marketing.
Anuj Kumar, CTO, Adda247 stresses that in the time of pandemic, cyber hygiene is as important as personal hygiene. “I feel that the biggest assets we have at these times is our data. Some basic hygiene steps are — being away from the unsecured internet hotspot, using reputable antivirus and malware software, keeping strong passwords for one’s accounts, changing passwords and updating browsers and softwares regularly.”
According to Anant Goyal, director and founder, Bright Tutee, India’s online education market size is around 9.6 million students and common subjects have been Maths and science. “Online education market in India has seen a 20-30% increase after lockdown and his organisation alone has seen a whopping 225% of increase in user engagement”.
Why is online education vulnerable?
Beas Dev Ralhan says as of now, the online education sector currently is not guided by any standard norms or regulations by the government. During the current lockdown, homebound students attend school in record numbers via online edtech platforms, e-learning environments and video conferencing. Parents should be aware of new technology issued to children who do not have a foundation for online safety. Children may not recognise the dangers of visiting unknown websites or communicating with strangers online.
Further, the definition and framework of online education are lacking and in some cases, online education even includes teachers sharing worksheets and study material on WhatsApp and training sessions on Skype. “In this process, it’s also imperative to create a cloud-based system and evaluate how artificial intelligence delivers an online assessment,” suggests Beas Dev.
“Consumers are not equipped to prevent data breach and online frauds. In fact they aren’t even equipped to take decisions regarding data privacy. It is partly because it involves complex trade-offs. Many harms from data sharing are intangible, uncertain and long term and partly because of information asymmetry – companies for example know much more than they do on what will happen to the data. Therefore there are only two solutions: stronger regulation and reputational damage to companies leading to better practices,” says Pooja Haldea, senior advisor, Ashoka University Centre for Social and Behaviour Change (CSBC).