Learn the best methods to secure an LMS and safeguard all sensitive information including student records, employee data, and your course content
You've been in the online course creation industry long enough to know that Learning Management Systems (LMS) is an effective solution to delivering high-quality online training to your employees and partners.
But, there's another major concern to address.
Considering that you have a lot of sensitive information including student records, employee data, and even your intellectual property, it will be risky not to implement security measures to safeguard that information.
So, the major question now becomes, "How do I secure an LMS to create a safe and trusted environment for all students and users?"
Here are the major ways to secure an LMS to protect your online learning platform from potential threats:
- Choose a reputable LMS provider
- Implement strong user authentication
- Implement Data encryption
- Automatic & Frequent Data Backups
- Implement proper user access controls
- Conduct security audits and penetration testing
- Train users on security best practices
- Stay informed about security trends
In this article, I am going to analyze each security method and how to implement it. The goal is to leave you with enough options on how to secure an LMS.
I'll end with an overview of the LMS security measures I have adopted over the years as a course creator. So, make sure you read to the end.
Without much ado, let's dive right in!
You can also check out all the free guides available at the Course Creators Academy.
So, how do you boost LMS security?
Choose a Reputable LMS Provider
Choosing a trustworthy LMS provider is the first step toward securing an LMs. This is not where you make a careless choice because it can either make or mar your online training efforts.
Your ideal LMS platform should have a proven track record of security and reliability. I'm sure you don't want a situation where your students are engrossed in their training, and the platform starts glitching.
Or students can't even access the course materials anymore. Situations like this can put them off and mess with their training experience.
To solve this, it's always best to go for an LMS platform with a reliable infrastructure that ensures that learners can access your online course consistently without disruptions or downtime.
But the question now is, how do you judge a platform's reliability?
It's pretty simple. Reading the reviews, and testimonials of past users will give your an understanding of their track record and customer satisfaction levels.
If other users are usually complaining about glitches on the platform, or how slow their course pages are, then it's a red flag.
Your ideal LMS should also make space for security and data privacy including, regular backups, access controls, and data encryption. Make sure that these features are available on the platform.
You must also ensure that the LMS provider has a history of minimal downtime to ensure that your students and other users enjoy uninterrupted access to the course website.
Aside from that, the LMS platform should be known for regularly updating features to ensure that we're up to date with the trending security measures
Implement Strong User Authentication
Another crucial way to secure an LMS is to administer a strong user authentication. You are at risk of losing sensitive data on your platform if you don't restrict access.
For example, users must register and create passwords before accessing the learning materials. This way, only authorized individuals can access the platform.
But there's more to just creating passwords. Here's how to enable strong user authentication on your LMS platform:
2-Step Verification Setting
This is otherwise known as multi-factor authentication (MFA). Here. users are required to have a second layer of authentication to access a platform.
It usually involves having a one-time verification code sent to either their mobile device or email. That is to say, whenever a user tries to log in with an unrecognized device, they must provide that code even if their password is correct.
This setting makes it harder for unauthorized users to gain access even if they have the password.
Complex Password Requirement
Have you ever tried registering on any platform and the password requirement is a combination of uppercase, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters?
Well, that's practically how complex password policy works. It doesn't take much for a smart hacker to figure out a user's password but with a requirement like this, it will be difficult or nearly impossible for a hacker to guess a user's password.
To enforce this complex password policy on your platform, you simply need to set the minimum password length including the expiration policy to ensure that users update their passwords regularly.
Account Lockouts and Failed Login Attempts
In an attempt to gain access to your course website, unauthorized users will try multiple login attempts until it finally clicks.
To avoid this, you should implement an account lockout policy. Here, a user's account will automatically lock after a specified number of failed login attempts.
This protects against brute-force attacks where hackers attempt to guess a user's credentials.
Single Sign-On (SSO)
To centralize user authentication, it will be best to implement a single sign-on. Here, users are only allowed to use one set of login credentials to access multiple systems including the LMS.
For example, they can use the same username and password to log in to their course dashboard, and any other office application.
This system reduces the number of login details users need to manage and ultimately reduces the risk of hackers compromising passwords.
IP Whitelisting and Geolocation Restrictions
Another way to secure an LMS is to restrict specific locations and IP addresses from accessing your course website.
I'm sure you've noticed the restriction message that appears when you try to access some websites.
It was an intentional act by the website owners to ensure that only authorized users from approved locations can access their website. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access from unknown or suspicious sources.
Review User Access Privileges
Finally, in securing an LMS, you should endeavor to conduct periodic reviews or user access privileges.
What does this mean?
It simply means removing or modifying user accounts and permissions of employees who are no longer part of the organization or those who have changed roles.
If an employee is no longer working with you, their credentials should be removed from the system to ensure they no longer have access to it.
Implement Data Encryption
This is one of the important security features of LMS you should look out for when choosing one for your online course.
Why is this important?
Remember that you'll be dealing with a lot of sensitive and confidential information from students. So, the best way to protect their data from unauthorized access and interception is to encrypt these data.
Data encryption simply means transforming their plain text into ciphertext. This way, only authorized individuals with the right appropriate decryption keys can read and understand the data.
In other words, data encryption makes every data stored in your LMS totally unreadable and useless to anyone without the necessary decryption keys.
One of the popular ways of implementing data encryption is to integrate Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols.
These protocols ensure that data transmitted between the user's device and the LMS server is encrypted, secure, and protected from tampering. The aim is to secure online transactions, including the exchange of sensitive information in e-learning systems like LMS.
The question now is, how do you integrate the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol?
Most web hosting companies offer these protocols for free when you apply for them upon registering your domain name.
However, you can also get it for free from some LMS platforms. For example, if you're using OnlineCourseHost.com, your DNS provider already allows the platform by default to issue a free SSL certificate for your domain.
From the image above, you'll notice that the next step after you have chosen your domain name is to activate your SSL certificate.
When the SSL or TSL protocol has been implemented, web browsers usually display visual indicators such as a padlock icon or an "https://" prefix in the URL, to indicate that the connection is secure.
This enables your website visitors to trust that their data is being transmitted securely.
Automatic and Frequent Data Backups
One of the reasons why some businesses collapse is due to data loss from unforeseen events such as cyberattacks, software glitches, hardware failure, or even human errors. It's usually difficult to recover from such a loss.
How do you prevent this?
By automatically backing up your data frequently. In fact, it is one of the best methods to secure an LMS. In backing up your data, you create multiple copies of important information on your website.
That way, whenever any issue occurs such as a server crash, you can always restore your LMS data to its previous state
This is an important LMS security feature you should look out for when picking one for your online course. Make sure that there's an option to automatically back up your data as your business grows.
Implement Proper User Access Controls
This LMS security measure usually follows from implementing user authentication.
That is to say, after ensuring that only authorized users can access your platform, the next step is to assign them roles based on their responsibilities and permissions within the LMS.
For example, while the administrator manages the overall system configuration, the instructor is only responsible for creating courses and so should only have permission to create and edit course content.
Students on the other hand should only be permitted to view the course content.
Assigning these roles ensures that users can only perform duties relevant to their roles and also prevents unauthorized access or data exposure to sensitive and confidential data.
Additionally, in implementing proper user access, ensure that there are procedures in place for new users to verify their identity before assigning appropriate roles and permissions.
Also, when a user leaves or changes roles, their access should be promptly canceled or adjusted to prevent lingering access that could be misused.
Finally, you should ensure that you integrate session management controls that monitor user sessions within the LMS.
What does this entail?
It simply means logging out users after a certain period of inactivity on the platform.
You must have noticed that when browsing some websites if you stay long without doing anything, you'll receive prompts like, "Session time-out." To keep browsing, you have to log in with your credentials again.
Conduct Security Audits and Penetration Testing
Another important security measure to adopt in securing an LMS is to conduct security audits and penetration testing.
This involves reviewing your LMS platform and checking the access controls, and configurations to see if there are loopholes in the security controls that could be exploited by attackers.
When you discover these loopholes or security weaknesses, you can promptly take the required action to mitigate the risk and boost your LMS security.
Additionally, these security audits also give you a chance to evaluate your LMS and be sure that it is in line with security regulations and guidelines such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
It's usually best to employ the services of experienced and qualified web security professionals or firms to review the security of your LMS and make recommendations.
Also, bear in mind that security audits and penetration testing are not one-offs. It should be done from time to time especially when there's a significant change on your LMS.
You're not only preserving your course creation business but also building the trust and confidence of your clients or partners that you take the security of your LMS seriously.
Train Users on Security Best Practices
Securing your LMS will be much easier if you extend some of the security lessons you know to your users. They should know the importance of having complex passwords and how to create one.
Also, teach them how to adopt a two-factor authentication system. More so, they should know the common phishing techniques and how to respond to suspicious emails and messages.
If possible, they should use their work emails which you've created for them to register on the LMS platform.
Again, advise them against sharing their login credentials and make sure that documents under the organization platform are not shared with 3rd parties.
Overall, it's best to create a comprehensive training program that covers all the security features of your LMS platform. These trainings are usually technical, so be sure to break it down and make it easy to understand.
Stay Informed About Security Trends
Finally, you can't keep your LMS secured if your eyes are not grounded on the latest security trends and updates.
These blogs cover topics on cybersecurity and malware and threats and other information security topics. Subscribe to their newsletters to receive updates on their recent publications.
Additionally, you should register and attend conferences and seminars focused on cybersecurity and information security. Finally, keep an eye on the security updates and notifications from your LMS providers.
Most of them usually release security patches, bug fixes, and updates to address known vulnerabilities. Subscribing to their mailing will enable you to receive timely information about security updates for your LMS.
Conclusion - What's Next?
Hopefully, this post has answered your question on how to secure an LMS. As you can see, the process is not as technical as you must have envisioned.
Of all these methods, from implementing strong user authentication to data encryption including automatic and frequent data backups, the most helpful way of protecting your LMS is to choose a reputable provider.
Your ideal LMS provider should first have a strong security system, you should be able to integrate free SSL certificates to encrypt your user data.
Aside from that, you should have the freedom to assign controls or permission to users, plus your data should be automatically backed up regularly.
I know how important these security measures are for any online course creator and that's why I made sure that OnlineCourseHost.com provides maximum security.
The LMS platform is updated regularly by experienced security professionals. We also notify our users of any security changes.
If you need more information to grow your online course business successfully, you should check out the Course Creator Academy.
You will find everything you need to become a successful online course creator all in one place for free.
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Ready to learn how to launch your first course on OnlineCourseHost.com? Here are the helpful guides for you to check out:
- Best Online Course Platforms (Ultimate Guide)
- How To Create An Online Course (In 15 Super-Practical Steps)
- How To Choose An Online Course Topic That Sells
- How To Record And Edit Your First Online Course
- Affordable Online Course Equipment - Complete Practical Guide
- How To Hire An Online Course Team
- The Ultimate Online Course Launch Checklist
- How To Create The Perfect Online Course Sales Page
- Create A Powerful Brand For Your Online Courses (In 5 Steps)
- How To Sell Online Courses? The Ultimate Guide
- How To Promote Your Online Course - Complete Guide
I hope you found this post helpful; let me know in the comments below what other topics you would like me to cover or any questions that you have.
Thanks for reading… and enjoy the course creation process! 😉
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Founded by Vasco Cavalheiro
Online Course Creator