Examinations are the nightmares of every student – whether you are a psychology student or someone studying a masters in business law online. Sitting for papers exert an intense pressure on the examinees. Faced with the unrelenting pressure to achieve high grades and the stiff competition for jobs, students are increasingly resorting to malpractices in order to get ahead of the crowd.
Online examinations are coming into vogue. They offer tremendous benefits for the examining bodies, including time management, efficiency and security, and contribute to a comfortable and stress-free examination environment for the students. They also provide the advantage of scalability and cost-savings compared to paper-based variants. However, they also throw up challenges to keep the online assessment process secure and free of defects.
Securing the online examination system is a continuous process. The security challenges are two-fold, viz. preventing content leaks and thefts, and building impenetrable security architecture.
When a student attempts to login into the assessment system, the computer system should authenticate his candidature with the help of photos and images. The student password should be structured in a 2-factor format. An invigilator password should also be mandatory as it provides an additional layer of authentication.
Data stored for the examination process should be necessarily encrypted. Encryption will prevent a hacker from altering and misusing the data even if he manages to gain access to the database in an unauthorized manner.
Auditing the examination processes and candidate activities is an important part of securing online examinations. It is important to audit the various examination processes such as exam scheduling, result access and question bank access. At the candidate’s end, the IP address, login and log out timings, and answer selection should also be audited.
The entire examination process is highly sensitive and should thus be fortified with a secure environment and processes. The IP access should be restricted to people directly involved in conducting the exam. Moreover, access should be enabled from a valid IP environment alone, so as to pre-empt login attempts from outside networks.
Cloud-based testing makes it virtually impossible for hackers to access and retrieve data as it does not provide for any physical location to store the assessments. Cloud-powered platforms encrypt the data and deliver the questions directly to the candidate’s screen. The question sequence in each test is randomized as per the candidate’s location and responses – this negates the possibility of memorizing a specific examination version, even if someone has laid his hand on a leaked copy of the test.
Cloud-based testing also significantly reduces the possibility of electronic theft and posting of test answers on brain dump websites. The answers are recorded at a central location and the results are processed in real time. Examination paper leaks are rendered impossible as it is difficult to define anything tangible for cheats to lay their hands on. And through cloud-based testing curbs attempts at impersonation. Moreover, cloud-based certification platforms use cloud computing to organize and assess certifications with inbuilt controls to maintain credibility and authenticity.
Be prepared for a world of technology-led, secure examination system.