Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Virtual Education: Security Issues or Just Paranoia?: Part II

It should be obvious to educators who spend a great deal of time online that they need to be constantly up to date when it comes to online protection. Just recently Adobe was hacked and at risk were all of their customer records. We should not take too much solace in that we have security software installed to protect our technology. The real problem is not the software but human nature. Some questions for introspection would be the following:
  1. Do I keep my security software up to date? This should be a "no brainer" but the frightening stats tell a different story. There many people online who do not have a clue whether their protection is up to date or not. They just assume that the software they purchased a couple of years ago is keeping everything in check.
  2. Is the security software provider keeping up to date with the growing malware threats everyday? Surprisingly enough, some very big name providers of security software are not as adept as their advertising would have you believe. It is important to check out what "security experts" have to say about the security software companies. Be sure to also check their affiliations to make sure that you don't have a cheer-leader for a company that has a vested interest in promoting that company. I know that sounds a little cynical but it is wise not to underestimate what lengths these companies will go to in order to hold onto market share.
  3. The use of passwords are a real problem because people have a dilemma that many have not resolved. That is they make up passwords that are easy to remember but are also easy to decipher using the right utility. Again as I have mentioned before, it would be worth your while to start to investigate the the advances made in biometric access. When people hear the word biometric they think of fingerprint readers but biometrics have advanced beyond that. One program you might want to investigate as a preliminary step is called:"Fast Access Anywhere" which have versions for tablets as well.
  4. The last thing to consider is the use of 256 DES encryption software for any documents you consider to be personal or sensitive. These programs convert documents into a form that looks like gibberish before they are sent over the Internet so that if anyone was to intercept the document before it reached the person you are sending it to, it would not make sense and it would take a lot of computing power to try to decipher what you had sent. However, nothing dealing with technology stands still and at the writing of this post, the 256 DES software may not be safe enough.
So, what does all this have to do with online education?? More than you realize! If you are going to have students from all over the world logging in to your virtual school, you have a legal obligation to protect their identities, their work and their official scholastic records from tampering or destruction. A great deal of careful, critical thinking needs to go into the design of a LMS with security as an important priority.

Next---- A Challenge to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco!

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