Ways to secure your online learning platform?
Online learning has been limited to a few sectors till the era of COVID-19 emerged. This phase saw a surge all over the world in switching to online learning platforms.
The sudden shift came with loose security ends. And even before that we often neglected the concept of hackers attacking an educational website. But this is not true, over the past few years many online learning platforms have been hacked and the sad part is they even failed to recover from the attack.
The educational system is in flux, and we can expect some long-term repercussions with the security gaps. So, it is time to take a step ahead and stick to some strong security measures by thinking about how will I protect my learning process?
Why would someone hack your online learning platform?
You might be thinking that does not own such a big business that someone would hack. But the truth is everyone on the internet is prone to attack. There might be many reasons that your site has been hacked. A few common ones are,
- To steal data
Stealing important data like credit card information and other bank details is the main target of intruders. Your student’s bank detail might get hacked and you end up losing their trust.
- To distribute spam
This is a common point that hackers stick to. They would use your website to send spam messages which are related to porn sites, pharmaceuticals, and others. They will take you to other undesired websites.
- To prove a point
Often hackers intrude into a site to showcase their skills. This might not benefit them in any way but might cause your site to go into unwanted hands. And your clients will lose faith in your platform.
There are many security risks and protection in online learning can be achieved by staying updated.
Measures to secure e-learning platform
Now fasten your seat belts and get the below steps done before you get hacked.
- Secure your online learning platform with an SSL certificate
SSL certificates are the most reliable and trusted method of encryption. With the use of the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate, you can upgrade your site from HTTP to HTTPS. The S in the end is an indication of your security from intruders. You can buy and install a cheap or discounted SSL certs like Comodo SSL, Rapid SSL certificate, Thawte SSL certificate easily.
The name SSL itself shows that you are getting an additional layer of security on your website. The data flow between the web server and the browser remains encrypted and no third party can decipher the encrypted data.
This signifies that you can easily send an important message or information along with this secured medium. The address bar will have a padlock and HTTPS written in green colour on a website with an SSL certificate installed on it. On other side if a site owner wishes to install a wildcard ssl certificate for subdomains, then Rapid SSL wildcard certificate, Sectigo wildcard, Thawte Wildcard SSL Certificate, Comodo Positive SSL Wildcard will end your security breaches in no time.
- Keep your learning platform updated and patched
It is often that the learning management system nags us to update our software, but we simply ignore it. This ignorance often costs us a huge loss down the line.
When a flaw is found within a website, the website becomes vulnerable to attack. The attackers are always on their toes and easily get to know where the loop can be found. Your software team also release software and flawless software version but then it depends on you to update it or not.
Most of the bugs and flaws are fixed when a new software or plugin update is released. Leaving the learning management system un-updated you are keeping it open to hackers to attack it.
- High-quality web hosting services
Every online learning platform needs a web host that can store the data and information on it in a safe and secure environment. You have a huge list of hosts to select from which might range from a few dollars a month to about thousands of dollars a month.
It depends on your pocket to decide which host to pick for your website. But the fact remains strong standing that the higher the rate higher will be the quality of the web host.
If you are opting for a cheap web host, you will surely compromise the security of your website. So, opt for known web hosts that fit your budgeting goals.
- Settle down on reputable plugins
WordPress is the common web host that one opts for. It is basic but you can use additional functionalities in it by using plugins.
The WordPress plugin repository is enormous, and you need to be accurate while selecting the one for your website. You need to check on the popularity of the plugin and its last update.
If millions of users have installed a plugin, it surely is safe and secure and the one with a lower count in thousands can be doubted.
WordPress is a known name but the plugins in the repository can be secure or vulnerable to attack by having flaws in it.
- Proper orientation and education to employees and contractors about security policies
It is extremely important to let your people know about the importance of online learning platform’s security, how you can avoid a security breach and what to do if you are hacked.
Everyone who has access to the administrative department, or your learning management system should be made aware of security breaches.
They must be taught how an attack can occur if they open a spam link and how important it is for you to install a security feature on your device that can alarm you when a virus is found.
- Enabling 2-factor authentication
The last thing any learning management system would want is that its users are hacked. It is many times that all the users use the same link to log in and an attack on a single user can make the entire team prone to attack.
This issue can be and needs to be mitigated by using 2-factor authentication. Enabling this scheme will enhance your chances to reduce the tendency of attack.
Even if a user gets hacked, they will need to punch in the code that will be sent on the mobile phone to log in or use their biometrics in other cases, leaving the learning management system safe from the hack.
- Strong backup systems in place
Till now you must be clear on the thought that no one is fully immune to attack. You need to be prepared for an attack at any time.
This can be well executed by taking a backup of all your data and information or your website.
The backup needs to be done on a secured cloud platform so that it can be accessed from any device at any point in time. You can even take a backup on a hard disk and store it in your home or another safe place. This will surely save you from a ransomware attack when the user demands a hefty amount in return for your website’s accessibility.
- Use expert security services
Cybersecurity has been the talk of the town and cybercriminals have increased fourfold in the past few years. With this increase, your chances of being attacked by a hacker have also increased.
To make things easier there are a variety of expert security services that investigate your learning management system’s security and keep you a step ahead of the hackers.
They may be paid services or free ones like Cloud flare and Word Fence.
They check a user’s reputation, their access location and if they are human or not before giving them any access to the website.
- Use penetration testing method
If you need to catch the thief, then sometimes to need to think like one. The penetration testing method is one such method where you need to stand in the hacker’s shoes and think accordingly.
A regular check on the security of the site can be done using the penetration testing method. In this, the team acts as a hacker and tries to penetrate the website.
This leaves the team with the loops within the site and how you can overcome them. This method is comparatively costlier and needs to be implemented at least once a year to get accurate results.
- Use strong passwords
This is where many learning management systems lack. They deploy easy to crack passwords and get caught by hackers.
You need to have a strong password policy where a mix of numbers, alphabets and special characters are used to make a password. This would be difficult to crack by an intruder and you will be safe from attack.
Also, make sure that regular pop-ups appear if you do not change your password within a maximum period of 3 months.
From big giants like LinkedIn and Yahoo to small freelancers, you name any, none is safe from getting hacked. Everyone is vulnerable to attack when it comes to cybercrime. The security measures will not keep you unhacked but will surely deteriorate your chances of being prey to these hackers. The hackers need to put in some high-end sophisticated techniques to intrude into your website. So, adhere to these security measures and let your online learning platform be safe and secure from third party invasions.