“Students should feel comfortable sharing their ideas in the virtual reality without fear or hesitation. This cannot be done without awareness and good knowledge of the basics of cybersecurity.”
“Students should feel comfortable sharing their ideas in the virtual reality without fear or hesitation,” she said. “This cannot be done without awareness and good knowledge of the basics of cybersecurity.”
However, Mohamed Tita, an Egyptian scholar specialized in network and technical security, distinguishes between the duties and the digital security measures to be followed by educational institutions and those of individuals, whether they are professors or students.
For students and professors, Tita stresses the need to avoid clicking on anonymous links, the need to use an encryption system to open some suspicious websites, always using a screen lock to prevent others from accessing their device and viewing its contents, as well as the need to use a strong password to secure data and information.
On the other hand, Tita believes that educational institutions that manage digital infrastructure have greater responsibilities in ensuring safety. This requires them to take into consideration security while designing a technical strategy for the programs they use or platforms they launch for their students, along with developing a plan to deal with potential attacks. (See a related article, “Arab Universities Are Vulnerable to Cyberattacks, Experts Say.”)
As for instant-messaging applications that students and professors are advised to rely on in online education, Tita said that Signal is the most secure program, as it is an open-source free application that does not require an email for registration. Tita also advises using Jitsi for video and audio conferencing. He prefers it over Zoom because it is open source and was developed by a non-for-profit group, and because users can use it on their computers or mobile phones from a browser without the need to install any software.
10 Cybersecurity Tips
Here is a list of the top 10 tips for enhancing cybersecurity in a distance-education experience:
- Update all the operating systems and devices you use. The updates often include necessary security modifications.
- Install anti-virus software (network anti-virus and anti-malware software) on each device that will be used in the distance education process.
- Update software to the latest versions recommended by the manufacturer, as the presence of hardware and software that is no longer updatable puts the security of computer networks at risk.
- Continuously make backup copies of all your data.
- Establish a password policy. Cybersecurity experts recommend a policy of changing passwords every 90 days.
- Activate the two-step verification feature, which helps secure accounts against hacking.
- Create strong passwords: A strong password is a word consists of at least eight characters with a combination of numbers and letters, both uppercase and lowercase letters. However, personal information such as phone numbers or date of birth should not be included in the password.
- Cybersecurity experts advise sharing only non-sensitive information on social media.
- Never click on anonymous links you receive via email, as they are one of the most common ways to hack computers.
- Use a tool to protect the camera. Lots of people put duct tape on their laptop and smartphones’ cameras. Software that includes tools to prevent unauthorized access and operation of the camera can also be used.
See a collection of articles by Al-Fanar Media on the coronavirus in the Arab world and its effects on education, research, and arts and culture.