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Assessment Blog

14th June 2022 | How to

Tips to boost your cyber security when using online assessment technology

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The recent surge in the use of digital technologies has seen organisations take to the internet and internet-based services to communicate, interact, and carry out everyday tasks and functions. The world of education has experienced a dramatic shift in the adoption of technology which has highlighted the potential benefits. But the increase in digitalisation has given rise to more frequent cyberattacks, with a report from the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) citing almost one in three businesses experience breaches or attacks at least once a week.

In light of Ofqual’s corporate plans for 2022-2025 to focus on the greater use of technology in assessments, it is essential that protection is intrinsic to the design and ongoing adoption of digital technology in education. Last month, the regulator published new cyber security guidance for awarding organisations because they accept that cyber-attacks will happen, and organisations must be prepared.

Particularly before entering exam season, it is crucial that centres review their cyber security because an effective cyber-attack could compromise assessment integrity and security, or even disrupt the examinations and assessments themselves.

Here are four basic steps to help assessment organisations protect themselves against attack:

Tip 1: Ensure passwords are strong and unique

Email account passwords are particularly important here. Suppose a cyber-criminal gets access to an email account within your organisation. In that case they can access confidential information and potentially get access to other accounts too, such as your digital assessment portal.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre recommends ensuring your employees avoid predictable passwords and consider providing a secure password storage tool to encourage individuals to have completely unique passwords for all accounts.

Tip 2: Use two-step verification wherever possible

You should endeavour to protect all your organisation’s critical accounts, for example your digital assessment platform and email accounts, by switching on multi-factor authentication. This will help to keep cyber criminals out of your assessment systems and accounts even if they manage to guess your passwords (which is easier and much more common than you think – even if they are strong and unique!).

Tip 3: Keep your software updated

By making sure your organisation’s software and apps are as up to date as they can be, you are also updating your protection from new viruses and malware and therefore helping to keep confidential data about your assessments safe.

So, as annoying as they are sometimes, don’t ignore those update prompts!

Tip 4: Always back up your most important data

You need to be one step ahead of cyber threats, particularly when you’re talking about exam papers or outcomes of assessments, to ensure you can recover data and information if they were to be wiped from your devices following a security breach. Using cloud-based back-ups you can be safe in the knowledge you can still access exam questions, scripts and even data from results.

Implementation of cyber security best practices is key

By following these tips, you will put your organisation in a stronger position to be able to defend your digital assessment platforms and other online infrastructure should they be the target of a cyber-attack.

Digital assessment will unlock a host of new capabilities and benefits as it becomes more widely adopted, but with it, comes the need to stay vigilant to the potential cybersecurity implications.

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