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India’s Edtech industry is growing rapidly, with a size of US$ 3.2 billion in 2022. This makes it the second-largest e-learning market globally, after the U.S.
However, data security issues surface with universities and online education platforms hit by cyber-attacks as the industry marches forward. These attacks are dangerous for data security.
Data Security is Important
Consider this. You love books and fancy them so much that you want to buy and store one book from every genre. You set aside a room in your house for keeping them safe. But, you leave the key in the lock and forget to close the windows.
Now let’s liken data to books and understand what happens when you leave it unprotected.
Your friends visit you one day. One of them enters the room without letting you know and reads some of your books. That’s unauthorized access.
Another friend also finds out about the book room, enters it and steals a few books to sell for personal gain. That’s selling personal data.
It’s the monsoon season. And heavy rains splash rainwater onto your books through the open window. Your books go damp and smell bad. They’re being hacked.
If you had removed the key from the lock, the room wouldn’t be open for public access. And if you’d shut the windows, the books would stay in good condition. Similarly, if you leave your data unprotected, you could be a victim of cyberattacks.
Data security uses measures to protect your digital information from cyber-attacks throughout its existence. It includes physical (hardware) and digital (software) security measures.
|Growth of Virtual Exams: In 2020, virtual exams saw a surge of over 300%, with an increasing number of educational institutions adopting online testing platforms.
Other Types of Cyber Attacks on Virtual Exams
The cyber-attacks mentioned above are only a few of many. In the case of virtual exams, the ones below are significant.
Denial of Service (DoS)
A DoS attack prevents users from accessing a website, machine or network by flooding the target network with traffic. With virtual exams, this means subsequent cancellation of tests, hampering future admissions or career progression.
When the attacker sends fraudulent communication appearing to come from a reputable source, the process is called phishing. The end objective is to steal sensitive user data or install malware that further extracts information from the victim’s device.
In this type, an unauthorized user tries to gain access to data by cracking an authenticated user’s password. A password attack could lead to data loss or even selling personal information on the internet.
Cyber attackers inject SQL and gain access to data. They add, modify, or delete records in databases using this injection. Test-takers could suddenly find their profile information tampered with and sensitive details, such as credit card numbers, compromised.
Lack of Data Security affects Virtual Exams
The growth in e-learning has improved education and virtual exam technologies. Although, there are still a few drawbacks and kinks to sort through.
Firstly, data protection (at the center of data security) is an ongoing concern. The Edtech industry turns out large chunks of data. But very few players have solid data protection facilities in place. Secure collection and storage of information generated in virtual exams is still a challenge.
The technology industry is experiencing a shortage of finance and staffing to oversee data security, complicating the security situation. Also, there’s no particular set of regulatory guidelines for dealing with data security issues.
A hack plagued a popular Edtech platform in 2020, with data of over 22 million accounts breached. And this wasn’t an isolated incident.
Cyber attacks are hitting universities and Edtech platforms globally. Compromised data is leaked or sold to unethical advertisers and scammers. But there are limited ways of tracking these transactions and penalizing them.
How can Edtech secure data in Virtual Exams?
Education technologies are putting more security measures in place despite the lingering problems. Being a secure virtual exam solution, we at ExamOnline know what measures are needed for excellent data protection.
They’re as below:
Users logging in for an exam create an account and authenticate themselves through other sources, such as a One Time Password (OTP) or biometric login.
Different users have different levels of access to the backend. For instance, one exam-taker can’t access the test results of others. But an examiner can view all results. Similarly, examiners can’t see the names and passwords of examinees. But only the IT executive in charge will see those.
Virtual exam technologies now come with provisions to encrypt data. Through encryption, only authorized parties can decrypt the data. It protects sensitive information about examinees, including financial data, addresses, and more.
Data can be collected and stored securely, but security features need regular upgrades. During these upgrades, IT experts check and audit existing data to find if it’s susceptible to a cyber attack. ExamOnline conducts systematic audits at Test Centers to detect inconsistencies and rectify them.
Virtual exams deploy robust digital infrastructure with built-in security features, protected and secure from external forces. Besides digital, organizations invest in strong physical resources to support and automate data. Moreover, they’re employing IT experts to overlook the functioning of virtual exam infrastructure.
At ExamOnline, we’re ISO 27001 certified software and have invested in people, processes and technology for solid data protection.
Several countries worldwide are adopting legal frameworks to restrict harmful parties from attacking the Edtech network.
Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was a landmark act pushing other countries to follow similar data protection measures. India recently introduced the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill in 2019 to tighten laws around data protection across internet-based organizations in India.
The Cloud delivers a host of solutions simplifying the virtual exam process. It’s also beneficial for institutions that cannot invest in extensive physical infrastructure.
A cloud software of the highest standard should have:
- Protection against OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities
- Secure browser technology
- Remote and live proctoring for limiting cheating attempts
- Disabled special function keys so students can’t switch tabs
- Encrypted question bank and answer sheets
- Biometric authentication
- Extensive audits of test centers for maintaining security standards
ExamOnline is a comprehensive solution providing all of the above features to protect data in virtual exams.
Wrapping it up
Edtech is an ever-growing industry that picked up pace extensively during the pandemic. Moving forward, it’s vital to connect institutions with test-takers across the world.
With large-scale technologies, having robust data security measures in place becomes essential. Evolving virtual exam solutions can introduce multi-factor authentication, encryption, auditing and cloud-based infrastructure to combat cyber attacks and protect the online education ecosystem.
|Privacy Concerns: Surveys indicate that 78% of students express concerns about the privacy of their personal data during online exams.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Data Security
Q: How secure are virtual exam platforms compared to traditional in-person exams?
A: Virtual exam platforms have significantly enhanced their security measures, employing encryption, AI-driven proctoring, and compliance with data protection regulations. However, challenges persist, requiring continuous improvement to match the security of traditional exams.
Q: What are the common vulnerabilities in virtual exam systems?
A: Common vulnerabilities include unauthorized access due to weak authentication, data breaches, and privacy concerns regarding the storage and handling of sensitive student information.
Q: How do edtech solutions prevent cheating in virtual exams?
A: Edtech solutions employ various measures, such as AI-powered proctoring, facial recognition, keystroke analysis, and plagiarism detection algorithms, to prevent and identify cheating during virtual exams.
Q: What steps can educational institutions take to enhance data security in virtual exams?
A: Institutions can prioritize regular security audits, invest in robust encryption methods, ensure compliance with data protection laws, provide cybersecurity training, and involve students in understanding their roles in maintaining security.
Q: What are the implications of a data breach during virtual exams?
A: A data breach can compromise the integrity of exams, leak sensitive student information, damage institutional reputation, and lead to legal and financial repercussions for both the institution and affected individuals.