Schoolchildren: Cyber Security & Data Mining Risks. Which is of greater concern?

Posted on 04-16-2015 by
Tags: cyber security , Latest Headlines & Stories , trending news

Next week, my 9-year-old son will undergo another round of week-long, state, standardized testing. The OACC, PARCC and Iowa tests are all on his horizon. While I am not an opponent (or proponent) of state, standardized testing, as a parent, I understand the mandates required are just another thing my son will continue to sustain if he continues as a student in the Ohio Public School system, and I as his parent understand this state-regulated mandate.

Now, I believe my sentiments about state-regulated, school mandated testing are shared by many (if not most) parents, I can honestly say that I was blind to the other aspects of the testing, specifically the online security of any video obtained of him during any testing.

According to this New York Times article, Uncovering Security Flaws in Digital Education Products for Schoolchildren, Tony Porterfield, a software engineer, uncovered a lack of cyber security on digital education sites, which could potentially allow unauthorized users to gain access to details like students’ names, voice recordings or skill levels.

The article went on to say that “while none of the security weaknesses appeared to have been exploited by hackers, some technologists said they are symptomatic of widespread lapses in student data protection across the education technology sector warning that insecure learning sites, apps and messaging services could potentially expose students, many of them under 13, to hacking, identity theftcyberbullying by their peers, or even unwanted contact from strangers.”

While the New York Times article exposes the issue of the ever present security weaknesses across the education technology sector, I am far more nervous about the information that is being collected about my child. In fact, in this Politico article, Data mining your children, it was reported “school administrators are often in the dark” about the increasing amount of digital tools being used by each, individual teacher is essentially insurmountable to track.

I imagine each teacher has an offering of approved educational apps and games for his or her classroom, but a few may “go rogue” using a similar app / game that accomplishes the same education results, but this may not be approved by the board. I am not using this possible example as a means to criticize educators, but more as a proposed explanation of just how impossible it may be to really understand the amount of resources available to school children.

In closing, I will leave you with this quote from the Politico article: “There’s no conclusive proof any company has exploited either metadata or official student records. But privacy experts say it’s almost impossible to tell. The marketplace in personal data is shadowy and its impact on any one individual can be subtle: Who can say for sure if they’re being bombarded with a certain ad or rebuffed by a particular employer because their personal profile has been mined and sold?”

Now, I ask the community, what do you think? If you are a parent of a school-aged child which is of greater concern to you – cyber security or data mining? You know my views, now I would like to hear from you.


Posted on : 23 Jun 2015 7:51 AM

Data Mining is a bigger risk. As school-aged children can be prone to a lot of spammy content or rather content that they should not be accessible to.

Posted on : 23 Jun 2015 8:26 PM

Maureen, my main concern about data mining - What is being done with the information that is collected about my child? And, WHO is reviewing this information? I imagine a lot more information about this issue is on the horizon for 2016 and beyond.  

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