Online learning and Cyber Threats

The pandemic has interrupted and changed our normal daily life. Some services stopped, others, thanks to Internet, could go on although in different mode.

The aim of this post is to analyse cyberthreats linked to one of these services, online learning, and the related cyber risks that affect the world of education and young people.

Elena Deola, 16 June 2021

1. Online learning and cyber threats

The outburst of the pandemic has changed the way in which education is delivered: from the school classrooms, it moved to the domestic ones and Online Learning was born. Thanks to it, students were able to continue attending classes. At the same time, however, they became the often-unaware targets of cyber threats and attacks.

A year on from the beginning of the pandemic, we are starting to quantify the results of online learning in terms of cybercrime. The situation is worrisome, not only according to industry experts but also according to the schools and families that are starting to realise, often at their own expense, the issues linked to being continuously connected from home.

In this panorama, FlshStart represents a light and flexible solution to face Internet threats. FlshStart® is a Cloud-based tool that protects and filters Internet surfing for Schools, Institutions, Families and companies sold through a network of partners. FlashStart® is fast to install, ready to use straight away and easy to customise. You can try freely FlashStart® and see first-hand the effectiveness of its protection.

Cyber attacks: data

As reported by CorriereComunicazioni, the first trimester of 2021 has witnessed a general increase in the number of cyber attacks of 47% compared to the last period of 2020. The topics that are most used to attract the victims include, at the third place, exactly Online Learning, which has as its target victims who show “a worrying lack of awareness of the risks”.

In the specific case of Online Learning, cybercrime in January 2021 recorded a net increase of 60% compared to the first six months of 2020. The most hit platforms are:

» Zoom: this is the most commonly used platform of videoconference for educational services. The threats linked to Zoom have increased so much that the term             Zoombombing has become part of the common vocabulary to indicate action aimed at disturbing an ongoing videoconference.
» Moodle: it is the platform favoured by schools and universities for the exchange of documents, target of attacks carried out through file downloading.
» Google Meet: part of the Google suite, it offers videoconferencing services similar to those offered by Zoom.

The World Economic Forum held in Davos has defined cybercrime as the third economy in the world, estimating its costs at around 10 million dollars per second for the whole of 2021. Considering such high costs, preventing cyber attacks becomes fundamental: request a quotation now and discover how investing in security with FlashStart® can help you save in the future.

The most common threats

The cyberthreats linked to Online Learning are represented mainly by phishing, adware, riskware, downloading and malware.


Phishing is the most common threat. Attacks of this kind are carried out through well-prepared emails that include links to fake special offers or false notifications by Online Learning platforms. FlashStart® defends you against these attacks, which exploit the fact that the names of the platforms of e-learning represent honeypots for students.

Hackers create fake pages to access the platforms, which resemble in an incredible way the original ones and invite students to insert their access credentials. SecurityOpenLab reports that, between the end of April and mid-June of 2020, at least 2.449 new domains relative to Zoom have been counted, with fake log-in pages, 32 of which were totally dangerous.

Start your FlashStart® free trial straight away and discover how to drastically reduce the probability of being the next victim of a phishing attempt.

Adware and riskware

Adware and riskware are cyberthreats that act independently from the actions of the users. Adware consists in bombarding users continuously with undesired advertisements. The FlashStart® internet content blocker acts exactly on this kind of threats, blocking undesired contents.

Riskware, on the other hand, consists of files that can execute actions on the device of the student without his or her consent.

2. FlashStart® defends Online Learning from cyberthreats

FlashStart® is the ideal tool to defend your devices from threats like these, both within the school networks and at home. The company supplies a blocking service for dangerous and undesired content through its internet content filter, a filer that acts as a checkpoint for all the websites which students want to access.

The FlashStart® module is completely cloud-based: each website a user tries to access is checked through allow and deny lists that are located in the cloud in such a fast way as to grant almost zero latency. New websites are analysed and categorised thanks to the work of algorithms and people who, with their constant action, allow to have an always updated tool.

Would you like to know more about the FlashStart® Internet content blocker? Click here

to find out all the details.

FlashStart® for schools

FlashStart® has got a dedicated solution for schools, a package studied exactly to allow schooling institutions to grant educational services in a safe way. With FlashStart®:

» The Internet network inside the school is protected from malware, phishing and threats as well as from contents which are undesired and inappropriate contents.
» The protection is granted to e-learning students thanks to the ClientShield application, an app that acts at the endpoint, hence directly on the student’s device, wherever it is.
» The Internet content filter can be customised and adapted in detail to the needs and desires of the schools, permitting also timed blocks on websites with distracting contents such as social networks, YouTube and apps of instant messaging.

Request an offer now and make Online Learning safe for all your students!

3. From Online Learning to the parents’ workplace

Children and teenagers are weak elements from a cybersecurity point of view since they usually don’t know how to recognise and manage cyber threats. They have therefore become one of the favourite targets of cyber attackers who exploit their vulnerability as a bridge to enter into the companies where the parents work.

The mechanism is easy: hackers prepare a phishing email that is well done and difficult, to an unexpert eye, to identify as dangerous. Once the student’s laptop has been accessed, they can easily move inside the little-defended home network, reach the computer of the parent who is working from home and, from here, the company network often exploiting the VPN connection that transports all data.

FlashStart® in your house

The weak point at the origin of the attacks described above lies in the fact that all the family is connected to the same modem: children for Online Learning and parents for smart working. The pandemic has thus offered criminal attackers an easy entrance gate from where they can get access to companies. While when they work from the company parents are covered by the company network, at home they are subject to all the risks of the domestic network.

Installing FlashStart® at home allows you to drastically reduce the risk of compromising company data. The web content filter intercepts and blocks suspicious websites and phishing attempts. Moreover, parents can be relaxed because their children will not be exposed to undesired, inappropriate and disturbing contents.

Want to make sure all your family is protected from cyberthreats? Start your free trial now and discover the tranquillity of safe surfing.

4. The remedy of the state: birth of the National Cybercrime Agency

The data about the spread of cybercrime have made it urgent to act in a concerted way also at the national level. Italy, with a law approved by the Council of Ministers, on 10 June 2021 has created National Agency for Cybercrime (“Nac”). The declared aim is that of “putting in place measures aimed at making the country safer and more resilient also in the digital domain”.

This is a historical milestone, which recognises the vulnerability of Internet networks at the national level, both for Public Administrations and Institutions and for the private sector. It marks the first step towards a safe digital and technological development.

As reported by Vittorio Colao, Misnister for Technological Innovation and Digital Transition, in Italy “93-95% of the PA servers are not in conditions of safety” and this can cause malfunctioning, service interruptions and even “determine a prejudice to national security”.

In this panorama, choosing FlashStart® to protect one’s connection represents an essential decision to grant safety at home and in school. Request now a quote and start surfing the web in a safe and sound way.

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