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  • Ethan Wai Chi Leung

The Move Towards Digitization

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

With the increase in the use of technology, data privacy is not only a problem in social media, but in many of the platforms we use today. Many platforms besides social media store user's private data, resulting in a risk of leaked personal information. Though these tech platforms may bring convenience to our daily lives, they could be dangerous in the long run. An example of how transitioning to an online platform could be harmful is in the platforms schools use today. Many schools now require students to purchase or have access to a laptop. Though the use of school platforms allows for easier teaching, grading, and scheduling, it puts the student body at risk.

In the last decade, schools have begun to transition toward online platforms. Schools use platforms such as Schoology and PowerSchool to store students’ and parents’ data. The FBI in 2018 issued a warning to the public about cyber threat concerns, saying that the growth of education technologies in education, along with a widespread collection of student data, could have serious privacy and safety implications if compromised or exploited by criminals. The FBI said that the type of information collected on students could include a range of personally identifiable information: biometric data; academic progress; behavioral, disciplinary and medical information; Web browsing history; students' geolocation; IP addresses used by students; and classroom activities.

As a student myself, I have used school teaching platforms like Schoology and Veracross, which unlike previous ways schools stored information, allow data to be easily accessible to peers, parents, or even strangers. On Schoology, a classmate can log on and find information ranging from the clubs a peer does after school, to his/her whole class schedule. A student's teachers and classmates are all listed on the platform, allowing one to have access to a large portion of his/her school information. Veracross, a different school platform, shows a student's home address, phone number, and email along with his/her parent's information. As technology progresses, schools need to take into account students’ private information, as it could be troublesome knowing that your peers could easily access your data.

Introduced in the 1990s, online paying systems have evolved to provide users with convenience and a replacement for their chaotic wallet. These include platforms like We Chat, PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay. Though these paying systems have brought convenience, data privacy is jeopardized by these platforms as they are a Hacker’s bullseye. Running online platforms means a risk for miscommunication and vulnerability. Problems like these aren't as rare as one may think, as users often accidentally disclose account information. Hackers could access a user's PayPal account by simply having access to their email password, allowing them to go onto the PayPal website and request a password change. The use of online platforms also increases the risk of bugs, allowing hackers to slip through and steal user's money. Not only do users risk getting their money taken, but they also risk revealing what they have previously bought through their account. These digital transactions could be easily tracked and traced. Paying online can bring convenience to many people; however, as payments move online, there is an increased risk of crimes such as identity theft, data breaches, and fraudulent transactions.

Digitization can be beneficial for businesses, companies as well as the community in general. However, we should be aware of digitization and its risks. As the number of apps and users increase, so will the bugs and holes in the system, creating an opportunity for cyber attacks. A large number of students, for example, due to the increased use of technology in schools, are now vulnerable to cyber attacks and identity theft. The importance of changing the way society advances using technology is crucial as people's lives could become ruined if the issue isn't dealt with.

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