Is Your LMS Safe?: eLearning Security Concerns & What You Can Do About Them
Security is a big concern in every facet of modern technology. That is especially true when it comes to learning management systems. eLearning is rapidly expanding. More business and educational institutions have implemented an LMS as part of their operation. Research studies revealed that 87% of users rely on a web-based LMS with only 13% using an installed system. The eLearning market is projected to grow by over 23% between 2017 and 2018, which is a significant increase in a short amount of time. Every organization needs to know that their LMS offers the level of security needed to protect their data.
Adapting in a Demanding LMS Market
Many LMS developers have gone to great efforts to adapt to today’s demanding LMS market. That means improving the way each system is shielded from access by hackers on the internet and unauthorized people in physical settings.
Cloud-based TalentLMS has incorporated a number of upgrades. They offer rolling updates to address the evolving nature of security needs. They also utilize SSL protocol to encrypt data. Their system encourages the use of “good” passwords, which means words and phrases that are not simplistic or obvious with a lower character limit. TalentLMS provides signup options that allow users to make the process as easy or difficult as they like with a whitelist option that only permits registration from certain email domains.
Moodle also made changes to address the security problem. This long-standing open-source LMS fortified itself against scripting vulnerabilities back in 2011. They have continued to apply regular updates to strengthen their system, with the most recent changes posted in July 2017. The process is ongoing as hackers have access to better tools and information to help them ply their unscrupulous trade.
Security Features & Your LMS
Not all LMS products are the same when it comes to security and privacy. There are a handful of areas you should review before choosing an LMS. If you already have a system in place, now is a good time to review its features to make sure it is up to industry standards. Key areas you should evaluate include:
- Network Security
The cloud is very convenient, but it also creates a situation that may make it easier for hackers to access your system. Network security will help prevent an incident. The most commonly used prevention method is layered firewalls and network segmentation. The firewalls will help filter traffic throughout the system. They can also monitor for denial of service attacks, spoofing, and viruses.
- Secured Connection
Access to your LMS should be limited to a secured connection. This will ensure that all data exchanged between your servers and the user’s computer are encrypted. Most LMS developers utilize SSL/HTTPS through a wildcard certificate. The certificate should be issued by a third-party authority like Geotrust with an encrypted connection.
- User Access
A secure system must use authentication before giving users access to data. Each user should have a unique set of credentials that they must enter to login. Anonymous logins should not be permitted. Some organizations prefer to use Single Sign-on, which can be handled with API authentication.
- Third-Party Certificates
It is highly recommended that your LMS provider have a third party assess infrastructure to look for vulnerabilities. If they pass inspection, then they will receive a certificate from the relevant agencies. This proves that they offer a secure product that has been certified.
- Data Recovery
Protection against disasters should also be part of your security protocol. Every business or institution must have a data recovery method in place. Data centers should be equipped with redundancy and high-density power systems. These locations should be automated and monitored with regular data backups. Computer hardware isn’t the only thing that must be checked. Power generators should also be tested and serviced by multiple fuel suppliers to ensure that operation can continue in the event of an emergency.
Data Security & the Law
Data security has become such a prevalent issue throughout the world that some countries have introduced legislation to protect personal information. According to Bloomberg, 2016 was a record year for data breaches. Government agencies and companies saw a record-breaking 1,093 data breaches in the U.S. alone that year. That amounted to a 40% increase from the year before based on findings reported by the Identity Theft Resource Center (IDTheftCenter.org).
Some of the companies effected include big-name brands and organizations like the Democratic National Committee and fast food giant Wendy’s. Even the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DOHS) was hacked, which resulted in records with information on nearly 30,000 FBI and DOHS workers being released.
Data Protection Legislation is used in Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America to provide better security for individuals in EU countries. The law states that businesses, organizations, and the government are held responsible for following rules to prevent a data breach. They are required to ensure that data is used lawfully and fairly and only for limited, specific purposes. They are not to hold data for longer than is necessary or transfer data outside of the European Economic Area without proper protection.
The United States takes a sectoral approach to data legislation. Rather than using the Federal government, the US relies on a combination of official and self-regulation and legislation. Companies are expected to implement their own security policies while individuals are expected to self-regulate who gets their private data. That’s why it is so important to know who you are entrusting to provide an LMS that will house your organization’s information.
What Can You Do to Protect Your LMS Data?
Once you have chosen an LMS and implemented it, there are several things you and your organization can do to work with your system’s built-in security protocols.
- Make sure all employees are well-trained in proper use, management, and storage of data
- Dispose of sensitive data that is no longer needed as soon as possible
- Keep all operating systems, software and malware protection up to date
- Control who can physically access your computers and related equipment
- Verify security protocol used by all third-party services your organization relies on
- Limit access to sensitive data to those who need it as part of their job or role