E-Learning:Security challanges

What is E-learning

A learning system based on formalised teaching but with the help of electronic resources is known as E-learning. While teaching can be based in or out of the classrooms, the use of computers and the Internet forms the major component of E-learning. E-learning can also be termed as a network enabled transfer of skills and knowledge, and the delivery of education is made to a large number of recipients at the same or different times. Earlier, it was not accepted wholeheartedly as it was assumed that this system lacked the human element required in learning.

However, with the rapid progress in technology and the advancement in learning systems, it is now embraced by the masses. The introduction of computers was the basis of this revolution and with the passage of time, as we get hooked to smartphones, tablets, etc, these devices now have an importance place in the classrooms for learning. Books are gradually getting replaced by electronic educational materials like optical discs or pen drives. Knowledge can also be shared via the Internet, which is accessible 24/7, anywhere, anytime.

E-learning platforms

People can do an online course via a wide variety of different platforms, such as:

  • MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), e.g. Coursera or Futurelearn.
  • Virtual learning environment (VLE), such as Learn or Blackboard.
  • Video streaming services, such as YouTube.
  • Virtual instructor-led training (VILT), e.g. WebEx or webinars.
  • Discussion boards.
  • Forums.
  • Podcasts.

MOOCs stands for Massive Online Open Courses. They are free online programs that several colleges offer. Even some of the world’s most famous and prestigious universities use them.

Some programs allow you to pay for the certification of the course. These courses can count as college credits, while others have value in the job market.


E-learning is  widely held as one of the best ways to facilitate learning process of the learners. Its benefits to the teacher and students are listed below. 

According  to E-learning  creates  the  big  opportunity  for  various  types  of

information such as: text, sound, videos, pictures, etc. that are stored over a long periods of  time  and  available  for  long  distances.  Compared  to  traditional  teaching  method, where students need to keep a lot of materials during a course and it is hard for them to revise before the examinations.

Security Challenges for E-learning System

E-learning security plays a very important role in elearning systems development despite its huge benefits. There are numerous challenges faced by learners, Higher learning Institutions and e-learning service providers in today’s internet age. Some of these challenges include

  1. Interoperability of applications: Despite current technological advances in e-learning, emerging trends are demanding a greater level of interoperability for components, systems, applications, and environments which are often developed for a particular institutions or organization and provide very similar functionalities (Cardenas and Sanchez, 2005).
  2. Standardization and compatibility: are vital for both e-learning service providers and end users (learners) to be able to inter-change components in the market. These are very important where different elearning systems must interact with one another
  3. Security policy and enforcement Mechanism: The security policy is defined as the set of laws, rules and practices that regulate how an organization manages, protects and distributes sensitive information. Once the security policy is defined, it must be captured and followed at application runtime via an enforcement mechanism which represents the set of centralized and distribute software to ensure that the security policy is maintained and never violated.
  4. E-learning Infrastructure: This refers to Hardware, Software and connectivity required for e-learning development and implementation

Overcome the security challenges:-

  1. Object based authentication Possession-based authentication or token-based authentication depends on what the user has for example tokens. Something the user has or possesses is called Object based authentication. Tokens with PIN fall under the category of authentication through “something the user has”. This authentication method is popular because tokens are portable and does not require any special software or equipment. Tokens prevent the stolen password from accessing the website by the unauthorized user as the exploiter must steal the physical token as well as the password. The tokens may be lost or duplicated and may be difficult for the users to carry overtime. They are of two types namely, memory tokens and smart tokens. One best example for memory tokens is magnetic card used with PIN. Smart tokens are also used with PIN but sometimes with one-time passwords. This provides more security than memory tokens. An example of one-time password.
  2. Bio-metric authentication The third type of authentication is based on what the user is. “Something whom you are” is biometrics. The word biometrics is derived from the Greek words namely, “Bio” and “metrics” where “Bio” means life and “metrics” means measurements. Biometrics generally deals with the application of statistical analysis to measure biological data of a human. Biometric based authentication uses anatomical, physiological or behavioral features of the user. The biometric features differ from one person to the other as it is based on what the user possesses. 4.1.5 Biometric based Authentication CYBER SECURITY Week-4 E-Text In Biometric authentication method our body itself acts as a password. The concept of biometrics is that an identity of a person is compared with recorded details. As computer science field is significantly developing, people move towards more secured user authentication methods that can be achieved with the help of biometric authentication systems. Biometrics based authentication authenticates a person based on physical or behavioral characteristics of the claimed person. Fingerprints, Iris, face recognition, typing rhymes are popular biometric authentication methods. The advantages of using biometric based authentication are as follows, – Difficult to duplicate. – Cannot be stolen, shared, guessed, lost or forgotten. – Biometric methods authenticate a person with the help of body features and so there is no necessity for the user to carry or memorize like passwords or PIN Biometric based authentication also has the following limitations: – Special equipment and software are required for recognition. – It is quite expensive. – There is a leakage in the personal information of the body when spoofed. – We cannot change or replace the biometric data that has been stolen. – Environment plays a vital role in acquiring the accuracy of biometric system. – Some Biometric methods are not portable. So, they cannot be used for remote authentication. Any biometric system has three modules such as sensor module, feature extraction module and feature matching module. Sensor module is used to capture the features and feature extraction module is used to extract the features and stored as a template in the database. In the feature matching module, the features are matched during authentication. Biometric systems are expensive but provide more accuracy and benefits than other authentication methods. There are no drawbacks like tokens which may be stolen or passwords that may be forgotten.
  3. Multi factor authentication To improve security, it is necessary to implement more than two authentication factors. Username and password are the types of knowledge factors used for authentication, but this cannot be addressed as Two-Factor Authentication(2FA). Two-factor authentication is defined as any authentication system that comprises a knowledge factor in combination with a biometric factor or possession factor. Multifactor authentication is defined as an authentication type that makes use of two or more factors. An example of working of a two-factor authentication.

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