KUCHING: Kaspersky has detected a four-digit increase in threats disguised as e-learning platform in Southeast Asia (SEA).
In a statement, it explained that with the risks of Covid-19 expected to be present until a vaccine is available, educational institutions across SEA are forced to adapt to this unique situation.
The unexpected disruption required educators to move offline schooling to remote or hybrid learning environments, with little to no preparation at all.
“The four-digit rise in the number of users we’ve secured from various threats online prove that cybercriminals are well aware of the new loopholes they can exploit to victimise the already stressed educational sector,” Kaspersky’s Southeast Asia general manager Yeo Siang Tiong said.
“This forced but needed online transition has already left educators overwhelmed andanxious, which also means they are more vulnerable to falling prey against old but effective social engineering tricks such as phishing and scams.”
Yeo added, “We believe that with the right security tools in place and proper mindset, educational institutions can focus better on how they impart knowledge to their students during this unique situation.”
Aside from the technical aspects of this shift, cybercriminals are also preying on the already burdened sector.
Globally, it said, the total number of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks increased by 80 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 (1Q20) when compared to 1Q19.
Moreover, it pointed out that attacks on educational resources accounted for a large portion of this growth.
Between January and June 2020, the number of DDoS attacks affecting educational resources increased by at least 350 per cent when compared to the corresponding month in 2019.
In a DoS attack, cybercriminals attempt to overwhelm a network server with requests for services so that the server crashes – denying users access.
DDoS attacks are particularly problematic because they can last anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks, causing disruptions to organisations’ operations and – in the case of educational resources – denying students and staff access to critical materials.
Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) also showed a steep surge in the number of users in SEA who faced threats disguised as e-learning and videoconferencing platforms during the first three quarters of 2020.
Applications and tools include Moodle, Zoom, edX, Coursera, Google Meet, Google Classroom, and Blackboard.
From just 131 affected users on January to March 2020, the second quarter saw Kaspersky solutions protecting 1,483 unique users in SEA against online threats related with virtual education and online videoconferencing applications, a 1032 per cent increase in a per quarter comparison.
The global cybersecurity company also monitored a slight decrease to 1,166 users almost infected with malware in the third quarter.
It can be noted that most of the lockdown measures in SEA were implemented in the later part of March.
As Covid-19 cases declined, some countries like Vietnam and Thailand were able to relax their restrictions after the second quarter of the year.
A solution that can help small and medium educational institutions is Kaspersky EDR Optimum.
This newly launched tool enables organisations to implement the basic endpoint detection and response (EDR) scenarios, provides infrastructure visibility as well as incident investigation and response capabilities against basic to complex threats.
Understanding that schools and colleges may have a limited budget and workforce for IT security, this automated solution is easy to use, does not require a high level of user expertise, and requires much less attention and routine maintenance than you might expect from an EDR-class security solution.