For any organization that relies on cloud-based LMS software for continual learning and development (L&D), cybersecurity should be a top concern. If you’re not keeping your LMS protected, you’re risking your trainees’ data privacy.
So, whether you’re training people internally or externally, LMS security is paramount.
Luckily, most LMS vendors today offer cloud-based solutions with built-in safety features.
When protected with reliable cybersecurity systems and protocols, cloud-based software solutions are no more vulnerable than an on-premise learning management system.
If your organization is using cloud computing for online training, you don’t have to worry about data privacy.
But you need to talk to your LMS vendor about the following cybersecurity features:
Your organization’s learning management system contains all kinds of information. In terms of data, the two most valuable assets that can be stolen from your LMS are your training material and your trainees’ private information – their names, contacts, as well as their test results.
Cloud computing means that your LMS exchanges this data with your vendor’s dedicated server. Until it gets from point A to point B, this information is vulnerable unless it’s encrypted. Data encryption makes it impossible for cybercriminals to intercept your LMS data and steal it.
Discuss the necessary level of data encryption with your organization’s LMS vendor. The Advanced Encryption standard is recommendable in any case, but especially so if you’re planning to use API and integrate your learning management system with third-party tools and apps.
Virus attacks can spread from your LMS and wreak havoc on other internal systems. For instance, a virus can damage your training courses, rendering them unusable. It’s a financial risk too. According to Sophos, the average cost of a ransomware attack on a business is $133,000.
Talk to your vendor about available anti-virus solutions for your cloud-based LMS software. The best one should keep your data and systems protected from common attacks, but also automatically scan your learning management system every week or so for potential threats.
Tere are many different types of cyber attacks. In addition to virus attacks, another frequent type involves spamming – the abuse of messaging systems (usually email) for sending unsolicited bulk messages that may contain infectious content or simply have criminal intent.
Spamming involves ransomware and malware too, but it’s also an effective phishing technique. By impersonating one of your trainees over email, for instance, a hacker can use phishing to scam you into sending them the password or giving them access to your LMS software.
That’s why it’s crucial to have an anti-spam solution in your LMS cybersecurity suite as well. This will prevent cybercriminals from using ransomware, malware, and phishing to capture user data and compromise sensitive information in your learning management system.
In case you still notice that somebody is trying to access your LMS from a suspicious IP address (say, from a foreign country that your organization has no business relations with), a cybersecurity solution called the IP blocker can help you restrict access to this IP address.
Unfortunately, an IP blocker can block only those IP addresses that you tell it to block. A persistent hacker will likely keep changing their IP address and trying again until they eventually gain access. This is why an IP blocker is only the first line of defense against cybercrime.
Advanced Password Authentication
IP blockers should be used in combination with advanced password authentication. This cybersecurity protocol is very effective when it comes to unauthorized access prevention. In addition to strong passwords, it uses other special measures of user authentication.
For example, advanced password authentication can be set in a way that forbids users from entering a wrong password more than three times in a row. Alternatively, users may be required to type in a code to prove that they are not an algorithm trying to break the password.
2FA (two-factor authentication) is another popular type of advanced password authentication. 2FA creates an additional layer of security around your LMS by requiring all users to identify themselves twice – with a password and some kind of information only they would know.
All LMS users – be they system administrators, maintenance team, or online learners – should only be able to access your cloud-based LMS software through a single, verified, and encrypted domain. This can be a dedicated learning portal or your organization’s official subdomain.
This means that users will need another information to access your LMS in addition to the password and the second 2FA piece of information – your domain’s dedicated URL. Your learning management system is a closed platform; there’s no need for your LMS URL to be public.
Back-Up Data Storage
According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, 55% of SMBs stated that they had experienced a cyber attack within the previous year. Half of them had suffered a data breach. Having your sensitive data stolen is double damage – for you and your trainees.
In only one data breach, you can lose your exclusive learning material and your trainees’ confidential data. Not only will you be out of business for a while, but you’d also lose the trust of your online learners. The least you can do is try to recover a part of the lost data.
Talk to your LMS vendor about back-up data storage. Most vendors have dedicated in-house servers where they store copies of data available on the cloud. Others rely on distributed storage services provided by third-party agencies, which you may be less comfortable with.
Being a huge part of the global eLearning environment, cloud-based LMS software solutions would have lost their purpose if they weren’t available 24/7 and across devices. More and more online learners are accessing their courses via smartphone browsers and apps.
Which means that everything previously said about LMS security applies to mobile as well. If you’re using a mLearning app, you need a separate security kit that includes all of the solutions discussed above, from data encryption and anti-virus to 2FA and back-up storage.
To ensure that all cybersecurity measures are working properly, conduct LMS security checkups at least once a month. Change passwords regularly and keep your cloud-based LMS software up-to-date at all times. That’s a small price to pay for keeping you and your trainees safe.
Author Bio: Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He is an expert in learning management system & eLearning authoring tools – currently associated with ProProfs Training Maker.