Online learning has taken off like a rocket, thanks to the COVID19 pandemic. Now that more kids are getting their education online, parents have to also consider strategies to keep them safe in the virtual space. Depending on the strength of the security features in your child’s LMS, there may be some weaknesses to consider. As a parent you’ll naturally want to know what these weaknesses are so you can take the necessary steps to keep your child safe online.
Chief among these is the ease with which access to the LMS data is acquired. An LMS with weak password and identity verification processes will expose the LMS data to unauthorized access. If for instance, a user logs in using a public access point (think internet café or shared computers) and opts to have the system collect and store login credentials, this may allow others who use the system to access the platform. To mitigate this, some LMSs require user authentication after a set number of automatic logins.
Another safety issue that plagues some LMSs is the susceptibility to hacking attempts. This vulnerability is increased when the LMS is web or cloud-based, a description that fits most modern LMSs. Unscrupulous digital citizens never give up on their quest to breach firewalls and other safety systems. Users of the popular platform Zoom for instance, felt relatively safe and confident on the platform until they found themselves hosting uninvited meeting guests in an event called ‘zoom bombing’.
No matter how robust an LMS’ security features are, there is the risk that some shrewd hacker will find a way to breach them. A breach could expose your child to communicate with unsavory characters online, or to inappropriate content. Additionally, it could expose sensitive data such as your credit card information. This is why LMS designers and technicians have to be continuously reassessing and retooling to meet the challenges that evolve.
Inside Jobs: Threats That Come From Within
Then there are those threats that stem from the human element. How can an LMS protect its community from rogue users? What about those unscrupulous admins or users who decide to sell the data stored in the LMS? This sort of thing has been associated with other sectors such as the banking industry so why not education? People are human and fallible, right? This is where layers of protection and a system of checks and balances come in. And this is also why, as a parent, you need to be vigilant as your child engages in the learning process online.
Did you know, for instance, that the video meeting element of G-Suite which is used globally for teaching and learning has the potential to be used inappropriately by legitimate users? Teachers often record their classes in order to offer asynchronous instruction to kids who can’t make it online in real-time. The problem is that in recording the lessons, the teacher may willfully or inadvertently capture information from inside your home if your child has the camera-enabled. To avoid this, teachers typically pin themselves to the screen so that only the teacher and his/her background get captured in the recording or ask students in the live class to turn their cameras off. But what happens when the teacher isn’t aware of these options? A quick search of google users’ forums will also reveal other user-related breaches on google meet such as illegitimate users entering the session and exposing inappropriate content.
It is easy to shine the spotlight on the outside but dangers also exist within the community of users to which your child belongs. Problems such as bullying travel with kids from the physical classroom setting into the virtual space. While the online class eliminates physical bullying, it opens the door to cyberbullying. Then there are kids who decide to use their position within the community to leak data to other platforms. Others think up creative ways to make life online miserable for their classmates.
Being aware of the potential safety problems that affect online learning brings you, the parent, one step closer to protecting your family from unscrupulous digital citizens.