According to the data collected by Atlas VPN, cybercriminals started targeting the field of education and attacked users more than 356,000 times during the last academic year (2018-2019). Since textbooks are expensive, and writing essays is time-consuming, pupils search for illegal downloads. In 234,000 cases, downloaded essays had hidden malware. Moreover, students downloaded 122,000 malware-infected textbooks.
Hackers inject malware into different types of educational resources, from math textbooks to dictionaries. The most popular ones were English textbooks, with 2,080 unique cases. Not far behind were math textbooks, attacking 1,213 students. Literature is in third place, with 870 infected downloads.
This data was collected globally. However, the actual number of cyberattacks is much bigger. The data is reported by Kaspersky, as their antivirus caught the cyberattacks. Yet, many students can not afford an antivirus program and attacks slip through unnoticed.
Why are hackers focusing on the field of education?
Since most hackers’ main focus is financial gain, they shift their focus to wherever the money is. In 35.5% of the 356,000 attacks, the malware contained a well known Stalk Worm (Worm.Win32 Stalk.a). Once on the computer, this digital worm can spread through all devices connected to it. Most commonly, a student carries the worm via a USB drive from their own computer to their school’s computers.
After infecting the school’s network, the worm can steal the data of the students, teachers, and administration. Then, hackers demand a ransom from the school in exchange for deleting the data or they sell it on the black market. Data collected from a successful attack can be sold for $250 to $350 per record on the black market. Ransom demands range from $10,000 to $150,000, depending on the amount and type of data stolen.
Ravi Pendse, Chief Information Officer at the University of Michigan, said that cyberattacks on students and schools have been going on for a while. He states that it is hard for schools to keep up with the newest technologies. Schools usually do not have a big budget for cybersecurity purposes. However, even though schools do not claim it publicly, there is a lot of work focused on protecting their systems with the resources they already have, claimed Pendse.
Hackers exploit students to mine cryptocurrency
In some cases, downloads include malicious cryptocurrency mining programs that mine cryptocurrency for the hackers (cryptojacking). Once again this is a way for hackers to make money. Cryptojacking is a form of malware that uses the victim’s computer resources to mine cryptocurrencies for the hackers. It makes your computer software and internet connection speed suffer. Also, your data usage will skyrocket, and the device’s battery will drain much faster.
Yet, there are no other clear signs that cybercriminals have invaded your computer. Hackers aim to remain unnoticed so that you would mine as many cryptocurrencies as possible. In the middle of 2019, many cryptocurrency markets saw price increases. As a result, hackers became more interested in potential profits. Kaspersky antivirus detected 2,259,038 mining malware-infected files on their users’ computers in 2019.
With the increasing cybercrime rates, what can you do to protect yourself? Schools as well as public and private companies you interact with store your information on their database. This means that you have no control over the data you shared with that company. However, you can protect your mobile device by installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your internet connection and changes your IP address. Hence, your online journey becomes completely safe and secure.
Canon Partners with the Ministry of Education for Digital Skills Development
Canon Middle East (CME) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Education as the official strategic partner for skills development in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The partnership delivers on the ambitions of the UAE’s Vision 2021 to develop the talent of youth in the UAE by empowering them to engage new-age digital innovations and prepare them with the skills required for education and employment opportunities of the future.
Her Excellency Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for Care and Activities Sector emphasised that through all of its partnerships, the Ministry of Education seeks to enhance students’ skills across various creative fields, positively impacting their journey in future. To this end, the Ministry focuses to uplift students’ skills and meet their different interests in-line with its goals, academic and skill enhancement plans for the students of the UAE.
Her Excellency also highlighted that the MoU is a result of a long-standing cooperation, as Canon had organised many programmes aiming to enhance students’ skills in photography and digital production and improving their various talents, as the Ministry seeks to promote cooperation with specialised parties in-line with its initiatives for visual arts.
As part of the agreement, Canon hosted a visual photography summer camp this year for 87 students from various schools to further develop their imaging skills and understanding of visual arts. The camp consisted of eight sessions and included video instruction and assignments for each student. The students’ work will be demonstrated through a virtual exhibition in October.
In 2021, Canon will also become the Ministry’s official partner for the National Clubs programme, which is an afterschool digital hub to empower and educate students on various topics including art and culture, health and fitness, STEM, life skills, and linguistics. Visual and creative arts, with an emphasis on photography and videography, are also a key component of the programme, and
Canon will conduct imaging workshops for 100 students aged between 10 and 18 who are interested in photography and filmmaking. The eight-week long course will be delivered online through virtual instruction and training videos and will run across three different levels to cater to the various age groups within the National Clubs programme.
Canon’s imaging workshops fall within Canon’s AKTASHIF programme which is a community-oriented initiative designed to equip young people aged 14 to 24 with the tools and techniques to unleash creative careers. The initiative provides training, mentorship and provides a focal point for “YOUTH” to develop their interests, strengthen their creativity and inculcate in them the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Anurag Agrawal, Managing Director, Canon Middle East and Canon Turkey, said, “Our collaboration with the Ministry spans a number of years and this agreement will build on the work we have done together to spark innovation and inspire students. Youth today are at a major crossroads as their educational and self-development journey is rapidly unravelling and evolving; but they are also increasingly adaptable, eager to get past hurdles, and are innovative in their approach to learning new skills. Through our workshops students will be mentored and trained using new digital technology that is essential for their education today and will prepare them for their professional careers in the future.”
“The partnership also underlines our commitment to our corporate philosophy, ‘Kyosei,’ meaning living and working together for the common good, and education is one of our key focus areas as an innovation-led, technology company, where we feel we can make a positive difference,” added Agrawal.
The Ministry of Education and Canon have collaborated on a series of successful initiatives which led to the signing of the partnership agreement this year. The initiatives included supporting the Ministry’s Masterpieces programme by providing photography courses, equipment and giveaways for the programme’s winners, and printing the winning imagery to be displayed at the La Perle show.
Last year, Canon launched a competition on Women’s Day within UAE public schools where four female students won pink Selfy printers and a photography master class with a Canon Ambassador. Canon also sponsored the National Science and Technology and Innovation Fair hosted by the Ministry.
SPL Launches ‘Smart Locker’ Service to Give Members Round-the-Clock Access to Books
The Sharjah Public Library (SPL), an affiliate of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), has launched the ‘Smart Locker’ service that facilitates the 24/7 borrowing of books via the SPL website. The books ordered through the Smart Locker will be reserved for three days and can be collected any time during this period.
This new system is part of the integrated smart services launched by SPL and caters especially to the needs of members who are unable to visit during the opening hours of the library.
The Smart Locker service uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that allows members to use their Emirates ID or SPL’s membership cards to collect and return books. SPL’s Smart Locker consists of 38 lockers equipped with a touch screen that are connected to SPL’s digital network and CCTVs.
Commenting on the launch of the new service, Eman Bushulaibi, Director of SPL, said: “The Sharjah Public Library is a keen adopter of innovative technologies, which enables us to continually improve its patrons’ user experience. Our Smart Locker service will offer its users an advanced personalised service, allowing members to engage with SPL’s array of offerings in new and improved ways.”
She added: “Globally, cultural entities are devising inventive ways to keep the public engaged with the written word, especially during the ongoing pandemic. With the Smart Locker service, our members can order and pick up books at their convenience in a contactless manner. This new feature furthers the library’s efforts to implement precautionary measures that will keep all our valued customers safe.”
New ADEK Activity Platform Launched to Allow Kids to Explore, Learn, and Innovate
With schools out for summer, Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) is urging students to #NeverStopLearning with a new Activity Platform. Serving as the go-to resource for entertainment and extra-curricular activities in the Emirate, the platform has been developed as a new digital playground as parents seek innovative ways to keep their children entertained this summer and beyond.
Taking into account the needs of children of all ages, ADEK has teamed up with some of the UAE’s leading edutainment vendors to create a platform packed full of enrichment programs, competitions, edutainment exercises, academic support, and physical and wellbeing challenges across four learning pillars: STEM and Innovation; Enrichment; Arts, Culture & Languages; and Physical Education and Wellbeing.
“Student wellbeing and engagement are at the core of our efforts at ADEK. With the current situation fuelling our commitment to ensure there are constant avenues of engagement for everybody within the Abu Dhabi education community, the Activity Platform has been designed as a one-stop resource for students to continue learning, innovating and staying active,” said H.E. Amer Al Hammadi, Undersecretary of Undersecretary of the Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK).
“The options available are fun and engaging, taking students away from pure academics and filling their time with meaningful activities. There are also ample opportunities for students to connect with their peers in a number of the challenges requiring team collaboration.”
SPOTLIGHT ON STEM
In line with ADEK’s mission to help shape a future-ready workforce through education, the STEM & Innovation stream on the Activity Platform is full of experiences for 21st century learners. Whether embarking on a journey through coding by learning the basics, taking their interest in robotics to the next level through a series of challenges, or seeking safe and fun science and engineering experiments at home, the STEM & Innovation pillar encourages critical thinking in fun ways.
AN EYE FOR ARTS AND CULTURE
Arts, Language and Culture are embraced with access to some of the capital’s most iconic attractions. Experiences are augmented with hands-on creative activities which add three-dimensional learning to a digital discovery. Children can take time-out to read, reflect and explore ideas in more depth, with access to extensive digital libraries and storytelling experiences. Additionally, language skills can be honed with a range of courses for native and non-native English and Arabic speakers. The Arts, Language and Culture stream also includes music tutorials and poetry.
ENRICHING EDUCATION JOURNEYS
The platform also caters to students plotting their first steps towards higher education, with a range of webinars and university prep talks ensuring they are ready for the big leap into university. There is also a generous offering of admission preparation courses, including IELTS to SATS revisions, specialist subject tutoring and couching sessions for candidate interviews. Younger students can revise or refresh core subjects ensuring they are prepped for the coming academic year.
KEEP ON MOVING
For energetic students eager to keep moving, the platform’s Physical Education and Wellbeing stream features a whole host of challenges, from sports contests, to cooking competitions and physical activities children can do around the home or garden.
To register for the Activity Platform, visit activityplatform.ae
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