Home / Technology / News /  Cyber threats disguised as online learning platforms grew by 60% in H2 2020

NEW DELHI: Cyber threats disguised as popular online learning platforms and video conferencing apps, used to facilitate the learning, rose 60% in the second half of 2020 over the first half, said Kaspersky in its latest report.

According to the cybersecurity firm, about 2,70,171 users globally were targeted in cyber threats between July and December in comparison to 1,68,550 detected during January-June last year.

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Online edtech platforms have been getting a lot of attention from students looking to augment their learning as they stay away from classrooms and coaching centres since the pandemic started. This has also led to a lot of uninvited attention from threat actors and marketers, lurking behind harmless looking links, attachments, and webpages.

Interestingly, 98% of the threats encountered were not-a-virus which comprises riskware and adware. Unlike viruses, which are designed to infect systems, gain admin control and steal personal data, adwares bombard users with unwanted ads. Riskwares, on the other hand, consists of various files ranging from browser bars and download managers to remote administration tools. Though they are legitimate and not designed to be malicious, they have functions that can be used for malicious purposes. For instance, their ability to carry out various actions on targeted systems without the owner's consent.

When used with bad intentions, a riskware program can be viewed as a malware.

According to Kaspersky, trojans accounted for only 1% of the threats detected during the second half of 2020.

The threats detected by Kaspersky were disguised as one of the widely used video calling apps and online course platforms and were distributed through copycat websites designed to look like the original platforms or emails sent with special offers or notifications from one of the original platforms.

Zoom, Moodle, and Google Meet were some of the platforms used for online learning that were most impersonated by threat actors during the second half of 2021, as per Kaspersky.

“Unfortunately, until all students are back in the classroom full-time, educational institutions will continue to be a popular target for criminals, particularly since this sector has traditionally not prioritized its cybersecurity," Anton Ivanov, security expert at Kaspersky said in a statement.

However, the pandemic has made it clear that this has to change, especially since technology is increasingly being incorporated in the classroom—virtual learning or not, adds Ivanov.


Abhijit Ahaskar

Abhijit writes on tech policy, gaming, security, AI, robotics, electronics and startups. He has been in the media industry for over 12 years.
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