IoT Security & Education: Toward a Secure Connected Campus?

Roland Atoui
Illustration: © IoT For All

IoT devices are everywhere and starting to be used in many industries, as well as in public places. Technological innovations and advancements make it possible for our devices to become smarter, but in some sectors, the adoption rate has been quicker than others.

Education is one sector where adopting new technologies takes longer than many other industries. Smarter devices could improve the interaction between students and teachers as well as provide more efficient education and learning. However, there are specific security concerns involved that have to be taken care of first for schools to adopt devices that would replace traditional books and notebooks. This article takes a look at some of the challenges faced by the education sector when it comes to the use of IoT.

State of the Education Sector

When it comes to the education sector and IoT, there are many changes possible that the entire industry could utilize making it look completely different in the timespan of a year or two. IoT provides the kind of value that other technologies don’t by advancing education so much so that its structures and environment could change completely.

Today we have schools and educational institutions sticking to the traditional ways of operation. However, there are also schools that use IoT which allows them to offer more personalized learning at a higher level of efficiency. The use of smart devices on campuses and in schools can improve the students’ access to relevant information, as well as help manage the entire classroom with more transparency and efficacy.

Education Use Cases

Below are a few interesting use cases reflecting the benefits of IoT in the Education field:

Enhanced Student Acquisition
  • Improved understanding of prospective students and their educational needs.
  • Improved forecasting and acquisition of students and faculty through integration of mobile apps to website navigation.
Improved Student Experience
  • Distance learning integration.
  • Student life analysis through device integration for any early detection of patterns that require course corrections for improved academic outcomes.
  • Develop courses and curricula that meet student needs effectively based on student sentiments and their interests.
  • Differentiated services and cost reductions for improved operations.
Research Experience
  • Accelerated research through device integration for faster experimental data collection, and integrated analytics with predictive capabilities

Cybersecurity Concerns

In open environments such as the ones nurtured by higher education institutions, cybersecurity can be a massive problem. It’s quite difficult for many institutions to implement proper cybersecurity practices while striving to teach and share information with anyone who may need it. The enormous number of students passing through an institution’s system each year certainly does not help in that mission, as they all use their personal devices.

The threats could be more severe than you might think, not only for the devices but also the data that is managed by educational institutions. In Florida, there was a cybersecurity data breach through the security system of a virtual K-12 school that jeopardized the safety of the sensitive student and parent personal data. It included the names and birth dates of students, email addresses of the parents, as well as Social Security numbers of the teachers.

Cases like this, clearly show that the level of cybersecurity in the education sector isn’t on a high enough level to deter cyber criminals.

Solving Cybersecurity Concerns

The problem of IoT-related security concerns isn’t exclusive to the education sector but the sensitivity of the assets we are expected to protect in this field is particular. Therefore, Educational Institutions must start teaching cybersecurity not as “a best practice” but rather “by practice”. One way is to start teaching the young generation about cybersecurity in a fun and practical way. As a great example, ISSA France – the 1st French-speaking European chapter of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) has just launched a Holiday Workbook presenting cyber risks to children and their parents.

Besides, to be able to trust IoT devices, connected education campuses must drive a dedicated IoT risk analysis and adopt security assurance by design, rigorous testing, and security standards for the devices and systems in use.

Only by knowing where the weaknesses are and how they can be exploited can we deter cybercriminals from breaking into internet-connected systems to steal sensitive data and cause a massive amount of damage.

Author
Roland Atoui
Roland Atoui
Roland Atoui is an expert in cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (IoT) having recognized achievements working for companies such as Gemalto and Oracle with a background in both research and industry. From smart cards to smartphones to IoT tec...
Roland Atoui is an expert in cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (IoT) having recognized achievements working for companies such as Gemalto and Oracle with a background in both research and industry. From smart cards to smartphones to IoT tec...