Security Testing Services To Secure Educational Portals Amid Lockdown

Security Testing Services

How secure can you get online! With security testing services, security can be maximised; otherwise cyber attacks get maximised.

While we were once happy with installing an antivirus, the COVID-19 lockdown has shown that this is not enough. In the current scenario, hackers are having a field day. Apps either providing important digital services or those that are growing in popularity are being targeted the most. They are exploring new horizons. Consequently, Q1 of the fiscal year 2020 has seen a sharp hike in DDoS attacks.

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Also Read: Cybersecurity Consciousness during COVID-19

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Digital resources have become the mainstay of existence for kids and adults. The Internet has become a way of life. Kids have stopped going to school. Study from home has become the new mantra. Online classes are being conducted by schools and many educational portals. This growing popularity of educational portals has resulted in cyberattacks on the same tripling in comparison to the same period last year. Very recently, there was news of a very popular educational app being hacked. The data breach was so severe that its user database even got sold on the Dark Web.

With vital customer data and their payment details all available in the database, such a breach can have long-lasting consequences. So what does a portal do? How do they counter the threat? For educational apps that have already been hacked, educators, learners and all other people associated with it or having an account with them should:

  • Change their account passwords,
  • If the same password has been used in accounts of other apps, the same should also be changed,
  • Multiple factors of authentication implemented mandatorily,
  • Corporate email account address should never be used on third-party apps and
  • Monitor all financial transactions to check for any abnormality.

Any news about the data breach should be followed diligently and required actions taken accordingly.

For the educational app, there is no way to undo the data breach. Online applications translate into the trust of customers. They are convinced about the security of the app and hence enrol their kids in the same. Instances wherein an education portal is not able to protect customer data, like the one that recently suffered a data breach, can have a huge negative impact on the mindset of their users and customers. Who wants to use an app where their personal, financial and other data is not safe? Hence they need to ensure that such a thing does not happen at all. The solution lies in advanced and efficient security testing services

They have an important role to play in saving your database from hackers. They will help you manage everything with the help of:

  • Strategic advisory consultations,
  • Incident response or dealing with a data breach,
  • Managed security services and
  • Designing and deploying services to the cloud.

Equipped with an activated and frequently updated global intelligence, these security testing services come up with innovative educational portal based security programs that they keep updating as the program matures over time. In short, they ensure the confidentiality of your data.

So what are the benefits of using these services? Plenty!

To understand this you need to understand what they do. Some of the vital services on offer are:

  • Infrastructure security with stress on endpoint management: This deals with network security as well as the security of the total IT infrastructure of the app. These are monitored and managed round the clock with frequent assessments being conducted. Any abnormal activity gets detected immediately and requires action taken so that the scale of the damage can be reduced.
  • Data Security: There are 3 steps to ensuring full data protection. They involve:
  1. Restricted rights to the database, wherein jobs and its requirements define data access,
  2. Process of storing data in the database using encryption and
  3. Sensitive data flow monitoring irrespective of whether this flow happens between different modules of the same app or different apps.

Testers enable data security by ensuring:

  1. Vital information is not displayed in the web browser address bar during transmission,
  2. Data encryption is enabled at all points,
  3. Insecure randomness and weak algorithm usage do not form a part of data storage.
  1. Prevention,
  2. Detection and
  3. Response.

The infrastructure security deals with implementing solutions to prevent and detect instances of a data breach. But in the instance of the unfortunate incident, people involved in the education portals should be made aware of the procedures that need to be followed. The quick implementation of these damage control measures helps:

  1. In the control of the attack and
  2. Minimises the impact of the initial attack.

Educating learners, educators etc., about the same also forms a part of web app security services.

  •  Web app security testing: Web-related security testing services involves a process of conducting frequent tests to check for:
  1. System vulnerabilities: This results from the presence of bugs or viruses within the system.
  2. Password cracking: Testers attempt to crack user passwords to judge the severity of the password formation rules. If they are not stringent, hacking of user accounts on educational portals becomes easy. Care should also be taken to ensure that the username and password are stored in an encrypted form to enhance their security. Thus password cracking initiative enables education apps to put up the first level of security.
  3. URL manipulation: Sometimes when information is passed between the server and the client by using the HTTP GET method vital information regarding the portal gets transmitted in a query string.  Testers can gauge system vulnerability by modifying query string parameter values. If the server accepts it, then the app is susceptible to cyber-attacks. Hackers can easily corrupt such a system or even manipulate input variables to get access to critical data.
  4. SQL injections: Ordinarily an app should reject any single quotes found in any text box. If testers from security testing services find a database error being returned, they know that the app is prone to SQL injections. They are a hacker’s favourite tool for gaining access to the server database. This makes it mandatory for apps to avoid them. Security testers facilitate the same by taking corrective measures accordingly.
  5. Cross site scripting: This enables hackers to run a malicious URL or script in the app’s browser. Cookies can be easily stolen using the JavaScript and vital information stored in the cookies can be hacked. Testers with their regular checking prevent this from happening.
  6. Brute-force attack: A valid user account ID is used to guess its associated password. This is generally done using software which tries to login innumerable times using different password combinations. Any education portal facing brute-force attack should immediately suspend the user’s account for a short duration. Security testing services enable apps to test for brute-force attacks by attempting to log in multiple times using valid user Ids but different password combinations.

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Also Read: Top 6 Software Security Testing Trends

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  • Restricted app access: Access security directly translates into the management of roles and rights associated with a job. For an education app, access needs to be defined on need. The user has certain needs and hence his access should be restricted to such menus as “courses offered”, admission procedures etc. The tester ensures this by creating different user accounts requiring different types of information to ensure access is restricted to appropriate people only.
  • Session management: This forms a vital part of the security of an education app. Testers with their frequent assessments check to see if open session automatically expires if kept idle for a predetermined time, log-out is successfully achieved, the possibility of a single user using multiple sessions etc.
  • Specific risks: Education portals have two commonly used features which may be a cause of security concern. They are:
  1. File uploads which can be used by hackers to introduce malicious content into the app and
  2. Payments wherein the pathway needs to be checked for insecure cryptographic storage, buffer overflows, password guessing, injection vulnerabilities etc.

Today security neither needs a definition nor does it need an introduction. For a web application, its importance increases exponentially. Education apps today thus need to make security their primary concern. Apps need to employ security testing services so that data protection is enabled and access can be restricted and made secure especially if remote access is facilitated.

About the Author

QA InfoTech

QA InfoTech

Established in 2003, with less than five testing experts, QA InfoTech has grown leaps and bounds with three QA Centers of Excellence globally; two of which are located in the hub of IT activity in India, Noida, and the other, our affiliate QA InfoTech Inc Michigan USA. In 2010 and 2011, QA InfoTech has been ranked in the top 100 places to work for in India.

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