Regardless of whether you are using an e-learning system to train your employees, or selling courses online, security of your LMS is critical. It is important to ensure that sensitive data will not be vulnerable. In fact, one of the first things you should look for in an online learning portal is its security features. Without security, you could be in danger of violating compliance requirements like GDPR.
Here are the 5 most essential security features that your e-learning portal should have:
1. SSL – Secure Sockets Layer
In the initial days of the web, it was not very safe; every page could be visited and read by anyone on the network – this meant that even credit card details and other critical information could be seen by anyone, making financial transactions vulnerable. However, the advent of SSL brought in a transformation; this adds an encryption layer to the http web protocol. It is this technology that adds a tiny green padlock icon at the top left of your screen near the URL to tell you that a particular site is safe. While it is compulsory to add SSL to any site which conducts financial transactions, it is now becoming the norm to add this layer of security to even blog sites. Web browsers like Google have started categorizing sites without SSL as unsafe, and even penalize them by ranking them low in searches. So make sure that your LMS vendor has implemented SSL in your e-learning system.
2. SSO – Single Sign-on
This is nothing other than using the same username and password to login to multiple websites and services. You’ve probably been using this already-haven’t you used Facebook or Google to login to say, e-commerce sites? Apart from convenience, this method offers centralized authentication management across online properties. This means your organization’s IT staff can implement the same security restrictions or policies for whatever third party cloud services you use, as well as your corporate intranet, and your LMS. They can also employ a single method to manage permissions, user access, and so on. It also saves your staff from remembering multiple passwords – and you’re less likely to find post-it notes on monitors with usernames and passwords.
3. User Access and Roles
Users, roles, and permissions are among the most basic and most required security features any website should have – especially a learning management system. Users of course refer to the user accounts – people who will be logging in; permissions refer to what each user is allowed or not allowed to do. All web apps have a suite of permissions that can be assigned to users so that they can perform specific actions or make changes in the system. With regard to an LMS:
- Edit lessons, create course, create test, etc. could be the permissions granted to the trainers only
- Learners will be assigned permission to access only their test scores, and not of others, View Lesson, Take Test, and so on.
If these permissions are not well defined, it would enable learners to change course content, view test results of other learners, viewing test questions beforehand, and so on – which would essentially defeat the purpose of the test.
Usually, related permissions are bundled together, so that they can be assigned or revoked simultaneously. When it comes to trainers, permissions to create and modify course content and tests can be bundled together. This is called a user group, or ‘Role’. This is convenient when a new trainer account is created, the role just has to be defined. You will not need to manually assign each permission every single time. Confirm that your LMS solution allows you to define users, user groups and configure their permissions – this will make administration convenient and less prone to errors.
Most people are lazy about creating strong passwords – but we know how important it is to not have abcd or 1234 and other equally simple, easy passwords. However, it is possible to force the user to create a complex password. The system can be configured to demand the user to create a password of a specific type, and reject it if the user does not follow the instructions. For example: ‘Create a password of 8 characters. Include at least one uppercase and one lowercase alphabet, 2 numbers and one special character.’ You can also set an expiry period, like most banking sites have. Users will have to change their passwords every3-6 months. However, if your SSL and SSO implementation is perfect and there is centralized authentication control, this step may not need to be implemented as stringently.
5. Login and Authentication
While it may not be as critical as the first 3 features, ability to restrict registration and authentication will also help secure your LMS data. When this feature is enabled in your online learning portal, you will be able to define how users can register, as well as how and when they can login (authentication).
If your LMS solution is cloud based, it’s a good idea to restrict registrations to just your staff – the registration process can be configured to allow only employee registration by accepting registrations attempted from specific domains like your organization’s network. The other option is to have each registration examined and approved by an administrator, but this can be time consuming.
Authentication options work in a somewhat similar fashion; you could disallow simultaneous multiple logins to prevent sharing of the account by multiple users – this is especially handy if you are selling the courses and pricing them per number of users.
To Sum Up
Implementing a comprehensive suite of security features for your LMS software is not optional, it’s essential, even critical. Security of information should be first and foremost in priority, and not the least. Make sure you purchase an LMS like IPIX LMS which has all these security features and more. IPIX LMS also guarantees 100% confidentiality of your information – there is no sharing or selling of data without your express permission.