As the higher education industry is undergoing a major transformation to meet the demands of the new generations of students born in a technological environment, cyber attackers have found a new target. Meanwhile, biometric technology is proving to be a valuable solution to secure students’ data and improve the user’s experience both in virtual and physical campuses.
For some time now, Generation Z (1995-2010) has been the main consumer of higher education. It is closely followed by generation Alpha (born since 2010), now entering high school.
Both generations being born within a digital environment and share a strong link to the virtual world. Creativity, self-taught, multi-screen, and multi-tasking are some of the common characteristics of Generations Z and Alpha.
According to a paper published by the International Journal on Interactive Design and Manufacturing (IJIDeM), 47% of GenZ spends more than 3 hours a day on a video platform, 59% use YouTube to self-learn and only 39% prefer to attend a class with a teacher.
This poses a real challenge for traditional education. Thus, colleges, universities, research institutions and the higher education sector a s a whole have to carry out a major transformation.
Progressive institutions are acquiring and implementing new technologies and tools, including virtual and augment reality, IoT, AI, 3D printing, remote learning, blockchain and biometrics to keep up with the technological demands and savviness of the new generations.
On the other hand, the Covid 19 outbreak also sped up online learning and hybrid systems of education as a standard as the world was in lockdown.
In 2021, according to a report by Moody’s 30% of higher educational institutions in the U.S. were using cloud technology, in comparison to 2% in 2020.
Cybercriminals on the prowl
This steep surge in digital tools, remote learning, and virtual classrooms has left the educational sector exposed and it has experienced a sharp rise in cyberattacks.
All that combined with students increasingly using their personal computers, reused passwords, and unsecured networks to join online classes.
Just as examples, in May and June 2021, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warned that it was investigating an increase in ransomware attacks against schools, colleges and universities in the UK. Australian universities have also been victims of massive cyberattacks.
And in the U.S., during the COVID-19 pandemic, hackers took control of data from a University of California San Francisco research team. They were testing a possible coronavirus vaccine. The hackers demanded 3 million USD (approximately 2.8 million euros) for returning control of the data. Finally, the UCSF paid 1.1 million USD (1.04 million euros approx.) to recover the control of its servers.
According to IBM, the estimated average cost of a data breach in the education industry in 2021 was 3.9 million USD (approximately 3.6 million euros). For some institutions, this amount is devastating.
Cyberattacks are a major burden for Education and research institutions tied to the higher education centers, not only regarding privacy of personal data but also intelligence and finances. But there are ways to prepare for and prevent these attacks.
Biometric technology to address new challenges
As we have seen, education institutions need to make cybersecurity a priority. Biometrics is being increasingly used in physical and online campuses to secure their complex platforms and grant access to their facilities and services to students, faculty staff, and personnel.
At B-FY, our mission is to eliminate identity theft fraud by unequivocally identifying individuals. This is possible thanks to the development of an identification protocol that offers the maximum guarantee of protection and privacy of the user’s data.
ID as a Service solutions use the biometric recognition capabilities provided by mobile devices to reliably identify people to access all platforms. This kind of solution also improves user experience and helps to eliminate identity theft fraud by unequivocally identifying individuals.
Our onboarding process enables users to manage their access to all the online or physical services offered using their mobile phone and the university’s app, therefore students, faculty, and staff would be able to identify themselves in a secure and simple way in all the institution’s services and platforms.
Miguel is General Manager of B-FY. He has more than 21 years of professional experience in the technology field, and for the last 14 years he has been in leadership positions in software manufacturing companies, which have been in a process of rapid growth.