Data Security For eLearning App Development

Tips To Reduce Data Security Issues In eLearning Apps

eLearning systems have gained a lot of popularity, especially more recently [1]. eLearning has majorly grown in popularity because of its ability to address the ongoing scarcity of skilled tutors and qualified teachers in institutions of higher learning. This explains why there has been an immense evolution in eLearning app development. As is always the case, every aspect of technology always ushers in a host of security threats. eLearning data security has been put on edge as hackers try as much as they can to lay traps and access the data in applications. The repercussions of a successful data security breach could be devastating. If users realize that their data is at stake, they will abandon the app immediately.

Every eLearning app developer should address the issue of data security with utmost concern [2]. Failure to do so will leave the app vulnerable to devastating cybersecurity vulnerabilities, such as identity thefts, online fraudsters, data tampering, and the loss of intellectual property, among others. Therefore, the best strategy is to implement radical security measures to prevent data security vulnerabilities from infiltrating eLearning apps. This article will discuss some essential tips that could help to protect eLearning applications from security threats.

1. Writing A Secure Code

The first crucial security measure app developers should adopt is writing a secure code. There is no doubt that app codes are vulnerable to several security exploitations that often come with devastating repercussions, such as reputational damage, exposure of sensitive user data, identity thefts, and privacy violations. To protect a code from this and many other security issues, it is always essential to follow secure code writing practices. Some of the best practices for secure code that developers need to adopt include updating the code frequently, adopting an agile development approach, code hardening, and code obfuscation.

The most significant security practice that every developer should employ when writing a code is signing the code using a code-signing certificate. This certificate is fundamental because it ensures that the code is not corrupted or altered by malicious individuals as it moves between the developers’ systems and the users’ systems. eLearning apps need these certificates to protect their codes from being corrupted, and it is not a must to go for an expensive certificate because a low-cost or cheap code signing certificate will do the job just as well. Such a certificate is easily available to resellers with the same security but at a low price.

2. Assessing And Preventing Server-Related Threats

An eLearning app developer must ensure they assess and prevent all server-related vulnerabilities. This should be done at the early stages of the app development life cycle. Server-related vulnerabilities open doors for malicious people to infiltrate the website and tamper with its contents. Such vulnerabilities include insecure communications, malware and viruses, and insecure direct object reference, all of which might invite server-side threats.

There are three methods that developers can use to prevent server-related security threats. Firstly, developers for eLearning mobile applications must always adhere to best code security practices at all times. Secondly, developers should use an automated scanner. The scanner is a very critical tool in the development of any app. It will scan through all app components to discover and address weak code and app sections that could render the app insecure. However, although automated scanners are a great option, they often report false negatives or positives. This is the reason why an elaborate manual risk assessment is vital for every eLearning app development process. A manual risk assessment, however cumbersome it might seem, is a vital app security practice that will help sort out app threats by categorizing them to their intensity and probability of occurrence, and then sorting out all the threats based on their likelihood of occurrence.

3. Using SSL Certificates

SSL certificates are a common sight in the corridors of cybersecurity. They are the small cryptographic tools concerned with data encryption, which conceals data from unauthorized access. However, most people (especially those lacking the technical know-how) do not know that these certificates are not only used for website security. Indeed, the TLS certificates are common in website spheres because of their HTTP to HTTPS migration roles [3]. However, their scope is not only limited to websites. The certificates also have a fundamental role in app security.

The lack of an SSL certificate, or even the idea that the certificate might not be properly verified, can invite a lot of attackers to exploit your website. For instance, the absence of the certificate will allow hackers to eavesdrop on data and communication happening in your eLearning app. Developers must also ensure they secure the certificate by following the practices given below:

  • Necessitating the verification of the SSL/TLS chain
  • Using valid certificates from recognized certificate authorities
  • Voiding mixed SSL sessions

4. Using Strong App Authentication

Users like using weak passwords to secure their applications. The 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report detailed some wild statistics 81% of data breaches about as a result of weak passwords. Attackers will have an easy time decoding weak passwords, which means that such passwords give attackers easy access to critical data. To prevent this from happening, eLearning app developers should set a threshold that requires users to use only strong and unique passwords. Developers should also remember to integrate the multiple-step authentication factor in the user authentication process. The multi-factor authentication will boost authentication security by requiring users to use more than passwords alone when accessing the app.

5. Using Authorized Application Programming Interfaces

User authentications tend to vary depending on the type of application programming interface (API) [4]. Developers must remember that while some APIs will need an API key, there are others that might require a detailed verification approach to secure users’ sensitive data. For maximum eLearning app security, app development companies should stick to effective APIs provided by genuine issuers. Additionally, it would be a great idea to adopt a centralized authorization for all the application programming interfaces. Failure to do so opens your app to data security threats.

6. Use A Reliable Learning Management System

A Learning Management System (LMS) from a reputable provider is instrumental to app security. Such a Learning Management System features the best in-built security options and features. It would also be better to avoid low-cost Learning Management Systems and stick only to mainstream LMS solutions, which come with more advanced security features that will help secure your eLearning app from security threats. [1].

Conclusion

Creating a secure eLearning application will depend mainly on the skills and knowledge of the developers. It is only wise to work with developers that have invested their time, resources, and efforts into learning about the best security measures in eLearning apps. Developers should be able to incorporate the security measures mentioned above to develop secure eLearning applications.

References:

[1] The Best Learning Management Systems (2022 Update)

[2] How To Build A Mobile eLearning App And Make It Thrive

[3] HTTP To HTTPS : Why Should Switch Your Website?

[4] Experience API Explained: 5 Frequently Asked Questions

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