Saturday, 12 December 2015

A new way to cheat the exam system?

I’ve posted before on the issues of cyber security for Universities. Not from the perspective of a tech-expert, of course but in relation to the management challenges that it can pose.

A tried and tested method of cheating
This week saw another example – as JISC was subject to a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. As I understand it, this is the internet equivalent of getting lots of people to go into a shop at the same time to effectively stop it trading.

The attack on JISC, according to the BBC, prevented some students from accessing internal systems and submitting coursework by the right deadline.

So who’d benefit from such an attack? One obvious answer might be, a student who was facing a deadline that they couldn’t meet, but who would have a much stronger case for an extension if it was the University’s systems which had broken, not their own ability to work to a deadline.

I have no idea whether JISC are able to pinpoint the source of the attack, and if they did they probably wouldn’t share it, so this might be an area where a student with enough resources – either tech savvy or financial – could secure an extension without it looking like their fault.

Am I saying that this is definitely how and why it happened? Of course not – I’ve no direct evidence and there’s plenty of cases of DDoS attacks for other purposes (including just for the sheer devilment of it). But equally I have seen students facing an exam problem do some desperate things, and this wouldn’t be the worst of them. Academic Registrars up and own the land (and probably across the world) would, I am sure, concur.

If you want to use this as the basis for a film script, by the way, please do get in touch …

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