Prior to COVID-19, there was a high growth and adoption in education technology with global EdTech investments totaling $18 billion in 2019 with an estimation of $350 billion by 2025. Studies show that on average, student retain 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in classroom. This is due to students being able to learn on their own pace, going back and re-reading, skipping, or accelerating through concept at their own pace. However, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many classrooms shutting down and shifting overnight to global adoption of remote learning on digital platforms. This instant move to online learning caused poor user experience and significant cybersecurity risks that cannot go untreated. As vaccination rates continue to rise and COVID-19 cases continue to decline, many educators are looking to implement a hybrid style of education—offering both in-person and online classes. Mitigating the issues surrounding online education will lead to seamless use in the future.   

Challenges facing online education

Prior to COVID-19, only 1-3% of the educational budget was directed into digital technologies, as a result many educational institutions were unprepared for the rapid digitization that was caused by the global lockdown. According to UNESCO, 191 countries in the world or 98% of the global student population switched to online lesson. As a result of inadequate resources and infrastructure, many issues such as cybersecurity vulnerabilities and identity fraud occurred.  

Due to the lack of adequate IT infrastructure, many educators and students were targets of cybersecurity threats. Between July and August 2020, the average number of weekly cyberattacks per education facility in the US rose by 30%, seeing a jump to an overwhelming 608 reported attacks—many of which go unreported to avoid public attention. In Europe, the number of weekly attacks per educational organization across the continent rose by 25% to 793 in the months of July and August. In Asia, the average weekly attack per education facility rose by 21% to 1,598 from 1,322. This drastic increase in attacks caused the FBI to issue a warning about an increase in ransomware attacks during the pandemic, with attackers exploiting Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connections that allow school employees to log in to district servers remotely. Additionally, many students and employees were utilizing cloud-based application instead of hosting software on local servers. This exposed many schools to malware, which made it easy for hackers to steal passwords, delete files and render computers inoperable.  

Without traditional in-person interaction, many questioned how educational institutions ensured that the correct people were being taught.  The United States Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 requires that students be identified and verified prior to awarding academic credentials. Additionally, the digitization of education increases the chance of fraud.   

Increased need for stronger authentication

The pandemic highlighted the need for stronger authentication in educational institutes. Additionally, with the lack of robust IT teams and infrastructure, educational institutes need to have systems in place to prevent cybersecurity and identification issues. Traditionally, biometric authentication has been streamlined into onboarding processes and used to provide touchless solutions. However, education can be a use case for biometric technology as it aims to solve digital identification and verification.  

Biometric technology works like a password but provides the users with enhanced security and peace of mind. The technology uses human characteristics such as fingerprint, voice or speaker recognition, and/or facial recognition to identify the user is who they claim to be. Biometrics can be used to not only replace passwords but be streamlined into current multi-factor authentication methods. Biometric multi-factor authentication is the strongest authentication method. Working similarly to traditional multi-factor authentication, the only difference is one of the authentication methods is a biometric scan. With proper biometric authentication in place, academic administrators no longer need to worry about identification and cybersecurity issues.  

Mitigate issues surrounding online education with biometric authentication

Streamlining biometric authentication into current security platforms comes with many benefits. With biometrics, educational institutes can use different biometric modalities to ensure security and verify the identities of students and teachers remotely. Lessening the digital risks involved in online education can lead to adoption resistance and a better outcome when utilizing online educational platforms.  

For administrators looking to implement biometric authentication into e-learning platforms, Aware offers solutions that are user friendly and secure. The Knomi® mobile biometric authentication framework is easy to use, secure and flexible. The framework would enable school employees and students conduct biometric facial matching and liveness authentication directly from mobile devices. Additionally, the AwareABIS™ supports fingerprint, face, and iris recognition for large-scale and small-scale biometric identification. Its modular architecture helps IT teams configure and optimize for any use case.  

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