Honorlock Achieves TX-RAMP Level 2 Certification for Secure Data Handling for Online Exam Proctoring

Certification Affirms Honorlock Commitment to Academic Integrity While Protecting Data

BOCA RATON, Fla. (March 26, 2024)Honorlock, an online proctoring company for higher education and professional development, has successfully achieved Level 2 certification in the Texas Risk and Authorization Management Program (TX-RAMP).

As part of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), TX-RAMP addresses the security of commercial cloud computing products and services that process data for Texas state agencies, including higher education. It is required for cloud-based software that processes, stores, or transmits data that is considered confidential.

With TX-RAMP certification, Honorlock has met the strict requirements needed to provide Texas educational and corporate institutions with access to safe and secure online proctoring for remote testing that also meets the rigorous security standards mandated by the state.

“Honorlock has access to a minimum amount of test-taker data, but we understand that protecting any and all data is critically important,” said Michael Hemlepp, CEO at Honorlock. “This certification reassures Texas state agencies and higher education institutions that Honorlock can be used and meets the outlined data management, security, and data governance standards. It also gives students peace of mind that any data shared during online exams proctored by Honorlock will remain secure and confidential.”

TX-RAMP Level 2 Certification is the higher of two designated levels of compliance with Texas-state cybersecurity standards for cloud technologies that process, store or transmit data that is deemed confidential and a source of moderate or high-impact information.

About Honorlock's Remote Proctoring Services and Software

Honorlock provides the best remote proctoring services and software for higher education institutions and professional education organizations. Our live proctoring solution is enhanced by AI to protect academic integrity and improve the assessment experience.

Honorlock’s approach to remote proctoring revolutionizes how academic and enterprise institutions promote equity in online courses and exams by upholding honesty and integrity and focusing on reinforcing the trust placed in learners while ensuring integrity for the institution, the instructors’ knowledge and value, and the exams themselves.

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WEBINAR: VPAT, Accessibility Conformance Reports, and Developing Alternate Access Plans

Colleges and universities have legal obligations and institutional goals to ensure technology is accessible to all users. However, most technology is not completely accessible. By reviewing information and communication technology (ICT) products for accessibility conformance, institutions can be part of the collective efforts to reduce the accessibility barriers for students, faculty, and staff, anywhere the products are used. In this session, participants will learn: how a product’s VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) and ACR (Accessibility Conformance Report) can help an institution develop an alternate access plan and ensure the institution is taking steps towards achieving Section 508 compliance.

  • Participants will be able to describe the terms Section 508 standards, VPAT, ACR, and Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan.
  • Participants will be able to list six (6) types of accessibility conformance reviews.
  • Participants will be able to determine if a VPAT or ACR is relevant to an accessibility conformance review.
  • Participants will be able to describe how the information in a VPAT or ACR can be used to develop an alternate access plan.

Speakers:

Nicolás M. Crisosto

Nicolás M. CrisostoAccessibility Specialist at a California Community College

Nicolás M. Crisosto is the Accessibility Specialist at a California Community College and has been an Education and Technology consultant since 2003. He reviews technology as a certified Trusted Tester, evaluates VPAT or ACR documentation, and recommends alternate access plans as part of an institution’s information and communication technology compliance review process. Nicolás works with companies and non-profit organizations to implement solutions for accessibility challenges. He provides training for faculty members and staff on a variety of topics including web accessibility, creating accessible documents (Word, PDFs, and forms), and reviewing accessibility documentation for Section 508 and WCAG conformance.

Bandit, Nicolas’ guide dog, is an accessibility advocate who enjoys playing fetch, taking naps, and traveling with his human.

Honorlock Protects Student Privacy

How does Honorlock protect student data?

Have concerns about online proctoring and the privacy and security of your data? Don’t worry. Honorlock has you covered because student privacy is our top priority.

Watch the video below for a quick summary of how Honorlock protects and secures your data.

Common questions from students about data privacy & security with Honorlock's online proctoring solution

Does Honorlock sell my data or monetize my data to third parties outside of my school or university?

No. Honorlock will never sell or monetize your data.

What data does Honorlock collect from students using the service?

Honorlock collects a variety of information as explained in our Privacy Policy, such as: Student information (i.e. e.g., student name, course number, exam name. You will be asked to provide a copy of your student ID. This information is synced with your school’s learning management system (i.e., e.g., Canvas). You may be asked to upload a photo taken with the camera on your device and to do a scan using the webcam of your testing area. During the exam, if requested by your school, we collect a webcam video recording that includes desktop activity and audio recording. Exam and web pages visited by a student during an examination. If your school chooses to use a new Honorlock feature called App Unlock, in limited release, you will be asked to download an application onto your computer (in addition to installing a Chrome extension) designed to detect apps on your device that you use (or attempt to use) during the exam to help your school detect any use of prohibited programs during an exam. Honorlock’s widely available service operates solely through a Chrome extension (no application download) and doesn’t have this capability.

How long does Honorlock keep my data?

The standard retention period for student data is 365 days. Schools can customize the data retention period – shorter or longer – based on their privacy and accessibility policies and needs. Student data is deleted after this retention period. Only a request by a student’s educational institution will extend the retention period.

Is Honorlock tracking my online activities and watching me when I am not taking a proctored exam?

No, Honorlock’s service is designed to collect information (including information about websites you visit on your device) only during a proctored exam. In addition, you are free to uninstall the Chrome browser extension and any software you’ve been asked to install immediately following a proctored exam.

Where is my data stored and how well is my data protected?

All data in transit and data at rest is encrypted and stored within then cloud in an Amazon (AWS) data center. Amazon’s data centers are SOC 3 certified, U.S. Privacy Shield, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant.

Does Honorlock's proctoring platform use facial recognition to verify my identity?

No. Honorlock uses facial detection, which only detects that there is a clear human face in the webcam. We do not identify the face, store any of the facial elements, or match the face to a database. If no face is detected, or if multiple faces are detected, AI will flag the incident and a human proctor may intervene.

Does Honorlock have control of my computer or my mobile phone?

Honorlock’s widely available products use only a Chrome browser extension that uses AI to detect the presence of faces in your camera and different voices. A student will have to install the browser extension to take an examination. The student can immediately delete the browser extension following the examination. Honorlock does not have the ability to control your computer, read your passwords or download any files at any point in time. Honorlock does not have access or the ability to control secondary devices such as mobile phones. If your school chooses to use a new Honorlock feature in limited release, you will be asked to download an application onto your computer (in addition to installing a Chrome extension) designed to detect apps on your device that you use (or attempt to use) during the exam to help your school detect any use of prohibited programs during an exam. Honorlock’s widely available service operates solely through a Chrome extension to ensure accessibility in learning (no application download).

Need more reassurance?

Honorlock Completed the SOC 2 Type 2 Audit

Honorlock completed the SOC 2 Type 2 Audit

Honorlock exemplifies commitment to security, availability, confidentiality, privacy, and processing integrity with SOC 2 Type 2 Audit completion

Successful completion of the audit demonstrates Honorlock’s ability to effectively safeguard data

Boca Raton, Fla. (December 14, 2022) – Honorlock, an online proctoring company for higher education and corporate, completed the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) System Organization Control (SOC) 2 Type 2 audit.

Completion of the SOC 2 Type 2 audit confirms that Honorlock has the appropriate and correct system controls in place to safeguard customer data and that the system controls are operating as expected.

“Honorlock has access to a minimum amount of student data, but we understand that protecting any and all data is of the utmost importance,” said Michael Hemlepp, CEO at Honorlock. “Completion of the SOC 2 Type 2 audit demonstrates the value we place on Security and that Honorlock’s offerings meet the highest level of security compliance, going beyond SOC 2 Type 1 audits.”

The SOC 2 Type 2 audit provides reasonable assurance that Honorlock’s service commitments and system requirements were achieved based on trust services criteria relevant to security, availability, confidentiality, privacy and processing integrity.

Unlike SOC 2 Type 1 audits held by other online proctoring companies, which only review systems at one point in time, the Type 2 audit assesses system controls over time, observing and confirming effectiveness.

Successful completion of the audit provides customers with the confidence that Honorlock’s systems have been tested, confirmed and have the correct controls in place to ensure information and data are protected against unauthorized access.

Honorlock completed the audit through Insight Assurance, an auditing and consulting firm that provides cybersecurity compliance, risk management and advisory services. 

If you are an Honorlock customer and would like to read the full report, contact your CSM or email csm@honorlock.com

About Honorlock

Honorlock provides blended proctoring services and software to higher education institutions and corporations.

What is blended proctoring?

Simply put, blended proctoring combines AI and humans to protect online exams and support test takers.

How does blended proctoring work?

Our advanced AI software monitors each exam session and alerts a live proctor if it detect possible dishonest behavior.

Honorlock’s makes online proctoring simple, easy, and human. Our approach to proctoring online exams brings integrity, humanity, confidence, and positive outcomes for institutions, instructors, and test takers.

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Webinar: Evaluating Technology Vendors

In this digital age, higher education institutions are evaluating an increasing number of new technologies within online and hybrid learning environments. But are they doing all they can to ensure their technology partners are meeting security and privacy standards?

This webinar will guide you through what security really means in 2022 and how the confidentiality-integrity-availability (CIA) triad plays an important role in evaluating security. Additionally, you’ll learn how to assess your technology partners for secure practices and how to identify vendors that are actively fostering a security-first culture.

By the end of this entertaining and informative presentation, you will have the information you need to ensure that all of your third-party technology meets the highest security and privacy standards.

Outcomes

  • Formulate a clear picture of what security in the higher education space means
  • Develop a game plan for assessing technology vendors before implementing
  • Establish a set of guidelines to ensure the technology vendor shares the same security-first culture as your institution

Speakers

Paul Morales

Paul MoralesSVP Information Security

Article & cheatsheet: How secure is online proctoring software?

The security of online proctoring software is crucial for institutions and test takers because they want to know that their data is protected and private. Read about online proctoring software and services security.

It’s important to remember that the online proctoring company you work with becomes your partner because their security becomes your security. 

One thing to remember is that there’s no magic wand when it comes to security. Furthermore, there’s no destination; it’s an ongoing effort that is constantly evolving. It requires organizations to improve both proactive and reactive defenses.

Honorlock believes that every online proctoring company needs to focus on privacy and security practices and that’s why we’re sharing these insights as we improve. 

This article covers:

  • The CIA Triad of security
  • Security best practices for online proctoring companies
  • Online proctoring services compared: what to look for when vetting companies
  • Security assessment for online proctoring service vendors
  • Privacy & security technologies for online proctoring companies services
  • Overview on privacy & security practices at Honorlock

We also provide you with a downloadable cheatsheet that includes example security questions you should ask online proctoring companies. Read the article & download the cheatsheet.

Templated Proctoring Policy

copy and paste template for higher education remote proctoring policies

This page gives you a templated remote proctoring policy that can be copied and tailored to suit your needs.

The template below contains all the information needed to help inform instructors and students about remote proctoring, what it is, how it works, and what to expect.

Swap your information (institution name & abbreviation, etc.) out with the italicized text.

Remote proctoring policy

Academic integrity speaks to the reputation of Full Institution Name (Institution Abbreviation). Ensuring academic integrity in an online environment is just as important as ensuring academic integrity in a campus environment. Taking measures to protect this integrity is in the best interests of Institution Abbreviation and its students, alumni, and faculty.

In addition to existing policies regarding academic integrity, students enrolled in an online or blended learning course will follow additional policies and procedures that specifically apply to online or blended learning courses, such as remote proctoring.

General remote proctoring information

What is remote proctoring?

Remote proctoring, sometimes called online proctoring, uses software and/or live proctors to monitor students’ online exam sessions.

What remote proctoring service is used by Institution Abbreviation?

Institution Abbreviation uses Honorlock to proctor exams online. Honorlock provides remote proctoring services that use a combination of AI software and live proctors to support students during exams and protect academic integrity.

This blend of AI remote proctoring software and live proctors aims to protect academic integrity and to support students through a successful completion of their exam while

 reducing test anxiety.

How does Honorlock work?

Honorlock is a browser extension that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor each student’s online exam session. If the AI detects potential issues, it alerts a live test proctor to review the situation and intervene if needed.

Remote proctoring information for instructors

The student is responsible for ensuring that they have the necessary system requirements (computer hardware, software, and Internet connectivity) necessary for the completion of the online exam. Additionally, students must check the online course within the Learning Management System (LMS) to determine if any additional software or hardware is needed. 

Instructors will provide students with the opportunity to complete online exercises, such as practice exams, to ensure that students meet the system requirements and have access to complete the online exam. 

Before you proctor exams online:

1. Discuss the use of Honorlock and offer practice exams

Review how to use Honorlock with your students. We encourage you to assign practice exams so students can gain familiarity with Honorlock’s Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI).

Note: You can set up the practice proctored exams to mirror the same settings that will be utilized on the actual assessment (including a room scan).

2. Include Honorlock remote proctoring information in your course syllabus

Be sure that students have access to information about Honorlock in your syllabus.

  • Recommended verbiage can be found here.
  • Additional information about Honorlock for students can be found here.

3. Address any student privacy concerns

Have an open dialogue with students and respond to any privacy concerns students may have about remote proctoring.

  • For more information on student privacy resources, visit this link.
  • Additional information on what students can expect during a proctored online exam can be found here.

4. Create awareness and understanding of room scans
Familiarize yourself and your students with what a room scan is and what they can expect from it.

5. Get a signed consent form for room scans

Instructors are encouraged to have their students sign a room scan consent form at the beginning of the course. Before students can log into the exam and take the online exam while using Honorlock’s remote proctoring services the student must acknowledge and accept Honorlock’s Exam Taker Privacy Notice and Honorlock’s Exam Taker Terms of Uses, which both contain notice and consent that the student’s surrounding workspace may be recorded by video and audio.

6. Explain what to expect during a remotely proctored exam
It’s important for students to understand what they can expect during a proctored exam.

Here’s what you can discuss with your students:

The different proctoring tools for online exams and the various settings that can be used and how they work

  • Use similar settings for every proctored exam so students know what to expect and are familiar with functionality.
  • Set up your practice exams to mimic the same settings throughout the semester/quarter.
  • An example of Standard Exam Guidelines language can be found here.

What in-exam flags are, their purpose, and what behaviors may trigger them

  • Share this article about in-exam flags with your students.

Provide clear, unambiguous test rules and instructions for all of your exams

  • Here’s an article with real examples of effective test rules and instructions for online exams and tips to remove any confusion.

7. Create a culture of academic integrity
Academic integrity goes beyond proctoring exams online. Creating a culture of academic integrity in your classroom can support positive decision-making during exams.

Read this article for some helpful tips to improve the academic integrity within your classroom.

Remote proctoring statement for instructors to share with students

The remote proctoring statement below can be provided to students in the course syllabus, in the course LMS, on the school’s website, and in an email:

Institution name instructors are given the discretion to require proctored exams, providing three options for students to test: on campus via the Institution name testing center, at a designated testing center, or through online proctoring. Institution name provides one option for remotely proctored exams through Honorlock. Online proctoring includes video monitoring and requires a room scan as part of the test session, which may be used in cases of academic misconduct. The room scan provides an opportunity for students to display their testing space, free of any unauthorized materials or persons, to ensure the integrity of the test session. The entire testing session will be recorded. A Google Chrome extension plug-in must be installed to use this proctoring service.  

Student nonadherence to the school’s online testing policies and procedures may include consequences including but not limited to: insert potential consequences, such as: email warnings with corrective actions or a grade penalty (e.g., 10% reduction) on the exam.

Addressing potential academic dishonesty

It’s up to the instructor to determine whether academic dishonesty has occurred during the proctored exam. Honorlock is a tool to assist you in making this determination. If academic dishonesty is suspected, please proceed according to the following information: [link to any pages with information for faculty on academic dishonesty]

If a student does not consent to be proctored online by Honorlock, instructors will provide alternative testing venues, such as:

Campus Testing Center: Instructors must provide students with advance written notice of date(s) and include links to institution-specific academic support services and how to access these services (e.g., location of testing center and/or proctored test sites, hours of operation, phone numbers, and email addresses for key personnel).

Off-campus Testing Center: For at-a distance students who are unable to test at an on campus testing center, instructors may offer proctored exams at an approved off-campus testing center. Students are responsible for identifying a testing center in their location and for providing the necessary information to the instructor so materials and instructions can be submitted to that site. Students may access the National College Testing Association for help identifying a testing center in their area. The instructor will provide the necessary test materials and instructions to the approved test location along with instructions for the return of the materials.

Supporting students’ accommodations

When using Honorlock’s remote proctoring software, you can specify any accommodations certain students may require. Notes in the Accommodations section are only visible to Honorlock proctors and support staff. Students cannot see the accommodations set for them.

Please note that only accommodations that relate to remote proctoring or authentication (Student Photo, ID Verification, Room Scan) should be listed here. Accommodations concerning exam availability, time extensions, number of attempts, and extended due dates are all managed within the LMS Name exam settings.

Please review Honorlock’s Accommodations page for more details.

Instructor support

Honorlock provides 24/7/365 support for faculty:

Remote proctoring information for students

What to know about Honorlock’s remote proctoring process:

Installing the Honorlock Google Chrome extension
Students don’t need to download software to use Honorlock. Instead, students only need to add the Honorlock Google Chrome extension plug-in, which can be removed after the exam. 
Get the Honorlock Chrome Extension here.

Checking the test environment
Remote proctoring requires a room scan, which means students use the webcam to show that their testing space is free of any unauthorized materials or persons. 

While the entire testing session will be recorded, only the Honorlock proctor or exam administrator have access to the recording. Furthermore, this means that no other students, instructors, or faculty members have access to the recording.

Exam scheduling isn’t required
Students can take proctored online exams 24/7/365 (within the allowed dates/times provided by the instructor) without scheduling an appointment with Honorlock in advance.

What software and hardware do students need to use Honorlock?

To take an online proctored exam with Honorlock, students need a functioning webcam and microphone and the Honorlock Chrome extension. Students do not need to download any software to use Honorlock.

System requirements:

  • Operating System: Windows 10, macOS 10.14+, Chrome OS
  • Browser: Google Chrome (93+)
  • Internet Speed: Speed: 1.5 Mbps download, 750 Kbps upload

Recommendations for students

Take the proctored exam in a suitable environment
Students should take the proctored exam in a well-lit room with a computer on a clean surface that’s clear of any notes and prohibited items like: cell phones, headphones, hats, or smart watches. 

Discuss any access limitations and accommodation needs with appropriate faculty and administrators before the exam
Students with limited access to the testing resources and environment for remote testing (e.g., access to reliable internet service, preventing test access or completion, a suitable environment for remote testing – sitting on a bed or in a car with their laptop, or difficulty preventing interruptions due to other household members and/or pets that are noisy or distracting), or who need accommodations due to absences, bathroom breaks and other emergencies and/or interruptions, should discuss with their appropriate administrators or instructors to explore solutions and accommodations.

 

Student responsibilities:

  • Make sure that you’re able to meet the technical requirements to use Honorlock.
  • If you anticipate technical issues completing any exams through Honorlock, notify Honorlock Support via Live Chat for further assistance.
  • Be aware of the specific exam dates and times and allow adequate time to take the exams.
  • Follow all exam instructions and guidelines.

Student support:

  • Student support is available on-demand through Live Chat or email at support@honorlock.com.
  • If you encounter issues with LMS Name during regular college hours, contact the LMS Name Support team via the Help link on the Global Navigation Menu in LMS Name.

Student privacy information

Institution abbreviation is committed to ensuring that all student information is handled securely and privacy is protected. 

Please review Honorlock’s Student Privacy Statement.

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Best practices for online test room scans

Learn about room scans for online exams

Ohio room scan case summary

A judge found that a “room scan” completed during an online exam violated a student’s rights under the Fourth Amendment, but a final ruling in this case has not yet been reached.

Before we jump into further details about the room scan in this situation, we want to emphasize a few things:

1. Honorlock was not involved in the room scan in this situation 

2. Honorlock does not require room scans
Honorlock’s online proctoring platform provides room scans as an optional setting that can be enabled or disabled as needed. We do advocate for clear, posted guidelines and consistent application of them across an institution.

3. Room scans are not unconstitutional, banned, or prohibited.
For more details, see the court documents in this case.

4. The problem was HOW this specific room scan was completed and reviewed

Here’s what happened during the room scan in this situation:

What could this school have done better?

Where do we go from here?

As the demand for online programs and distance learning continues, safeguarding online exams is a priority for schools to protect their accreditation, their reputation and the value of their programs.

Room scans are one element in creating a secure and equitable testing environment. Other important factors include things such as short test windows, clear expectations, utilizing a test bank for randomly generated test questions. 

This is a good time to review your remote testing policies and procedures and make any necessary adjustments. 

Here are a few questions to consider:

1. Are your remote test security practices, policies and procedures published in advance and readily available for faculty and students?

2. Do your policies include guidelines for when to use room scans and how to conduct a proper room scan?

3. Are your guidelines enforced consistently across all online courses and exams?

Best practices for proctoring online exams with room scans:

1. Publish your remote exam policies and guidelines in advance and include a link in the course syllabus

2. Get student’s written consent to the guidelines, specifically, to the room scan

3. Provide alternative testing locations for students who do not consent to remote room scans

4. For students who must test remotely, but do not consent to the room scan, accommodate their request by notifying the Honorlock proctor that room scans will not be used with that student.

For more information on how to provide accommodations, visit our KnowledgeBase article.

5. Follow your institution’s guidelines for proctoring online exams

Your institution may have certain requirements for proctoring, such as the use of room scans. Please adhere to your institution’s policies and guidelines for remotely proctored exams. Proctor Settings and Student Guidelines for your exam are tailorable and easily adjusted. For more information on what each setting means, use this article to access the respective article for your LMS.

Prior to proctoring online exams:

1. Discuss the use of Honorlock and use practice exams

Review how to use Honorlock with your students. We encourage you to assign practice exams so students can gain familiarity with Honorlock’s LTI.

Note: you can setup the practice exams to mirror the same settings that will be utilized on the actual assessment (including a room scan).

2. Include Honorlock information in your course syllabus

Be sure that students have access to information about Honorlock in your syllabus.

3. Address any privacy concerns

Have an open dialogue with students and respond to any privacy concerns. 

4. Create awareness and understanding of room scans
Familiarize yourself and your students with what a room scan is and what they can expect from it.

5. Get a signed consent form for room scans

6. Explain what to expect during a proctored exam
It’s important for students to understand what they can expect during a proctored exam. 

Here’s what you can discuss with your students:

7. Create a culture of academic integrity
Academic integrity goes beyond proctored exams. Creating a culture of academic integrity in your classroom can support positive decision-making during exams. 

Check out our blog article on some helpful tips to improve the academic integrity within your classroom. 

8. Join our educational webinars
Honorlock provides ongoing educational webinars every semester, including one for every supported LMS, be sure to register here

If you do not find what you are looking for, please take a look at our library of previously recorded webinars found here, or please reach out to your CSM and/or Support Chat.

Quick facts about online proctoring room scans

A room scan uses a test taker’s webcam to get a 360 degree view of the room.

Room scans help protect academic integrity by ensuring that there are no unauthorized resources or people in the room.

A room scan may be required by an institution or exam administrator at the start of the exam to ensure that no unauthorized resources or people are in the testing environment. A re-scan during the exam may be requested by the proctor should there be indications of unauthorized behavior or resources.

Test takers enable their webcam and complete the room scan by panning the webcam on the device around the room.

Yes. Room scans are common and, when done correctly, generally considered as one of several best practices for proctored online exams.

No. Some proctoring companies require room scans, others provide it as an option tool to use.

About Honorlock room scans

Does Honorlock require room scans?

No. Honorlock doesn’t require room scans. Room scanning is an option feature that can be enabled or disabled.

How can instructors using Honorlock disable room scans for test-takers?

After creating the exam in the LMS, the instructor can pick which proctoring features to enable or disable for the exam, including room scanning. 

Does Honorlock allow instructors to disable room scans for specific test takers?

Yes. Instructors can provide proctor instructions that allow specific test takers to bypass the room scan.

Who can view a room scan with Honorlock?

If the institution or instructor requires a room scan, only a Honorlock-trained proctor, the instructor, and key administrators at the institution will have access to review the room scan. 

It’s important to note that a room scan is only viewed if there is questionable behavior flagged during the exam. 

At that point, the proctor may view the recording, including the room scan. The instructor or an administrator may also review the recording, including the room scan, after the exam. Instructors only receive recordings in the event of a flag.

Can other test takers or people view the room scan?

No. The room scan is never accessible to anyone other than the Honorlock proctor, the instructor, and key administrators of the institution.

The recording or room scan is never accessible to other test takers, other instructors, or any other party. 

More information about Honorlock:

Looking for more articles and information about higher education and online learning? Visit our resources section.

FBI Cybersecurity Recommendations for Higher Education Institutions

FBI cybersecurity recommendations to protect higher education institutions

The FBI Cyber Division released a notification in May 2022 that they discovered stolen login credentials from higher education institutions readily available on public forums and for sale on the dark web.

The notification also warned that the exposure of the stolen login credentials could put universities and colleges at risk of more cyber attacks in the future.

What is the dark web?

The dark web consists of hidden sites that use specialized browsers to keep internet activity anonymous, making illegal activities hard to track.

Here are some notable higher education cyber attacks in recent years, according to the FBI’s notification document:

How do cybercriminals get access to these credentials?

Cybercriminals primarily get initial access to utilizing social engineering (most commonly phishing).

What is phishing?

Phishing refers to fraudulent communications that pretend to be sent from a trusted source. The goal of phishing is to trick the receiver into revealing personal information in order to gain access to information such as credit card numbers and login credentials.

Consider this phishing situation and the impact it could have on the students, faculty, and institution

Initially a cybercriminal gets access to a student’s email login credentials. They can now begin reconnaissance and build their attack.

Now that they have access to previous email conversations, they could use those topics in the phishing email they’ll send to the professor and other students. In the email, they can mention the relevant topics and include a malicious hyperlink.

In this situation, the receiver may be more likely to click the malicious link because it’s from a familiar person and their guard is down.

FBI cybersecurity recommendations for higher education institutions
The notification document provided an extensive list of cybersecurity recommendations universities and colleges that we’ve consolidated and summarized:
Assessing the security of your technology partners
In addition to the FBI recommendations to protect against cyber threats, colleges and universities should also assess the security of their technology partners. This includes all online learning technologies and all additional course software, such as:

Remember, vendor security is your security.

Here’s a high-level list of what to look for and questions to ask when vetting technology partners:

Online proctoring isn’t just a way to deter employees cheating on exams. It’s an integral part of establishing a strong culture of academic integrity at your organization. Our solution and proctors help create a supportive testing environment that levels the playing field and allows test-takers to focus on showing their knowledge.

Data security

Proactive defense

Incident response plan

Company practices and employee security training

Vendor Security Cheat Sheet

For a comprehensive look at vendor security, download our Vendor Security Cheat Sheet. It provides a detailed look at questions to ask technology vendors, software and technologies needed, and important definitions to know.

Comparing Face Detection to Face Recognition

As face detection and facial recognition software become increasingly dynamic, people are understandably concerned about their privacy, and those taking online proctored exams have reported various negative experiences.

There are key differences between face detection and face recognition, and it’s important to be able to distinguish between the two, as both are used to varying degrees by online proctoring service providers.

For example, some online proctoring services use face detection while others use “continuous facial recognition” throughout the entire exam, which may be invasive and pose privacy and data issues.”

Comparing face detection and face recognition

Face recognition vs face detection comparison chart of differences

What is face detection?

Face detection uses AI technology that can determine when human faces appear in images. It uses algorithms to analyze and to separate faces from all the other features that may be present in an image—the baseline goal is to distinguish your face from a stop sign, for example, or from the adorable mug with your dog’s face on it.

Broader than face recognition

Face detection as a concept includes face recognition in some instances. If a system can isolate a face from the rest of an image, then it qualifies as “face detection.” But facial recognition is more specific and is just one of a range of capabilities under the rubric of face detection. Facial recognition uses biometric technology not just to recognize when a human face is present, but also to determine the identity of the person.

How face detection works

Our eyes, standing out as they do, are the first objects that face detection algorithms usually search for. The algorithm will then seek other features of our faces, and when it finds them it compares what it thinks is a face to large databases that definitely contain faces—as well as non-face images to make sure the algorithm is working properly.

The AI is essentially “trained” to identify whether images and videos contain faces or not. This training uses a seemingly endless number of images and video – some containing faces while others don’t – to help ensure ongoing improvements and overall accuracy.

What is face recognition?

Face recognition is one of the most significant applications of face detection. It’s able to capture someone’s image and know exactly who that person is. The technology isn’t 100% perfected yet, but if your image is already in a database, there’s a good chance that the owner of the database will be able to identify you.

What are the differences between how they work?

The steps below highlight the differences between how face detection and face recognition work. You’ll notice that face recognition goes beyond simply identifying that a face is present.

Face detection

Steps of how face detection works

How is face detection used in online proctoring?

If you are concerned about the implications of facial recognition technology when it comes to proctoring online exams, we at Honorlock understand. 

Honorlock does not use face recognition

We use face detection, which only detects that there is a clear human face in the webcam.

We do NOT identify any individual face, store facial elements, or match the face to a database. If no face is detected, however, or if multiple faces are detected, AI will flag the incident and a human proctor may intervene.

Safe for everyone involved

We take data privacy seriously. All data is secured. Data in transit and data at rest is encrypted and stored on the cloud in an Amazon (AWS) data center.  Amazon’s data centers are SOC 3 certified, U.S. Privacy Shield, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant.

Facial detection is just one of the many online proctoring features that Honorlock uses to make sure test takers have a positive and secure remote testing experience. When you compare online proctoring services, be sure to check whether face detection is being used, rather than the more problematic face recognition. 

Speak with our online proctoring experts to see how Honorlock works. 

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Debunking Myths About Data Security & Privacy With Honorlock

Here’s a quick look at how Honorlock protects student privacy and secures data:

  • We don’t sell or share student data
  • Our proctoring software doesn’t have access to cell phones
  • Students aren’t watched the entire time
  • We don’t use face recognition
  • We don’t have access to the student’s network
  • Honorlock is hosted in the cloud through Amazon Web Services
  • We don’t have access to the webcam or microphone after the exam ends
  • No extra accounts or passwords are needed
  • Students can easily delete Honorlock after the proctored exam is over
  • Your institution owns the data, not Honorlock
  • Honorlock is compliant with data privacy standards like FERPA
  • Our test proctors are trained to follow data privacy compliance standards
  • We only gather student data required to proctor the exam

Data security and student privacy in higher education are especially important topics with the growth of online learning and remote testing.

Students and academic institutions have expectations about how their privacy is protected – and for good reason. In fact, a 2020 study by EDUCAUSE1 found that Privacy was the 2nd most important factor related to IT for higher education leaders. 

To provide transparency around how Honorlock protects student privacy and secures data, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of important information to help answer any questions from students, faculty, and institutions. 

We want you to know that we take data security and privacy seriously and we’re committed to providing a testing environment that’s secure and non-intrusive – one that supports and empowers students and faculty while protecting academic integrity.

Honorlock data security and student privacy

Honorlock doesn’t sell student data

Pretty simple: we don’t sell or monetize student data.

Our online proctoring software doesn’t have access to cell phones

A 2021 Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse study2 found that 58% of students are somewhat concerned about how apps on their cell phones handle their data. 

Honorlock doesn’t have access to cell phones or secondary devices — not before, during, or after the proctored exam.

We don’t use any online proctoring software or technology to access cell phones or secondary devices used during the proctored exam session.

Can Honorlock detect phone use?

Our online proctoring solution can detect when phones and other devices are being used to search for test bank content during an exam. We gather information based on the websites visited – not via the phone. If the student isn’t using their phone to access test answers on homework help sites, they should have no concerns.

Honorlock doesn’t watch students the entire time

Let’s face it, having a live proctor’s face on the screen watching the student during the entire exam is distracting (and creepy). 

With Honorlock, a live proctor only intervenes if the test proctoring software detects potential dishonesty. When the proctor is alerted, they can review the behavior and enter the exam session via chat to help the student get back on track. All of this makes for a much less invasive testing experience.

Our proctors are trained to support students and reduce exam anxiety

We want interactions between students and remote proctors to be a positive experience that helps students – not a distraction that adds more stress. Our full-time online proctoring team was trained by a nationally certified counselor and educator on supporting students during moments of exam anxiety. When our proctors intervene, the goal is to help support students successfully complete their exams, not to catch cheating.

Adding to this, Honorlock conducted a student survey with the University of North Alabama to learn more about the causes of student exam anxiety and how our approach to online proctoring can help reduce anxiety.

We found that Honorlock helped reduce exam anxiety and that students who interacted with one of our remote proctors indicated that the proctor helped reduce their exam anxiety. 

“The proctor popping in was different than I expected – in a positive way. I imagined them being more strict. I felt that the proctor was helpful and a lot less intimidating than I thought.” – Student quote in a post-exam interview

We don’t use face recognition

Honorlock doesn’t use face recognition. Our proctoring software uses face detection

There are significant differences between the two.

What’s the difference between face detection and face recognition?

  • Face detection means detecting that a face is present on the video or image.
  • Face recognition goes way beyond facial detection. 
  • It uses biometric technology that recognizes when a human face is present AND attempts to establish whose face it is.  

Honorlock’s face detection only detects a clear human face in the webcam. 

Honorlock’s facial detection technology does not: 

  • Use biometrics
  • Identify and match the face to any database
  • Store facial elements

We don’t have access to the student’s home network

The online proctoring software doesn’t have access to network communications which means we don’t have access to your local or home network.

We only monitor the quality of the student’s internet connection. This is to ensure its quality and to document the network connection stability during the proctored exam to troubleshoot situations when the test-takers internet connection is unstable.

Honorlock is hosted in the cloud through Amazon Web Services

Cloud hosting with AWS provides comprehensive data security capabilities for Honorlock. Stored data is encrypted and secured using industry standards with AES-256 block encryption. 

We don’t have access to the webcam or microphone after the exam

Once a student completes the online proctored exam, our access to the screen and webcam ends.

No extra accounts or passwords are needed

Thanks to our direct LMS integration, Honorlock doesn’t require an extra account or password.

This LMS integration with Honorlock means that data is exchanged securely between the proctoring software and your LMS only. 

Students can delete and remove Honorlock after the proctored exam is over

It only takes a few seconds to delete Honorlock’s Chrome extension. Students can navigate to the extension in the Chrome toolbar and remove it.

As an AWS partner, Honorlock follows federal NIST 800-88 guidelines for proof of data/drive destruction. 

We don’t own school data

Honorlock doesn’t own the data; we only hold the data for the institution.

Honorlock has defined data retention periods of 12 months, after which all student-related data is automatically purged unless the school requests an extension of a particular student’s data related to an Academic Integrity case. Upon request from the school, they can extend the data retention of a student’s data up to an additional 12 months.

It’s just as easy to install for the next exam; students can add the extension in about 30 seconds.

Committed to maintaining compliance with state and federal data privacy laws and regulations

FERPA compliance

Certain student information and records are covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Institutions protect the information and records in accordance with FERPA privacy rights and other applicable laws. Honorlock is prohibited from using student data in any way except to carry out online exam proctoring services. The information transmitted belongs to each school.

Our test proctors are trained to follow data privacy compliance standards

Certain student information and records are covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Institutions protect the information and records in accordance with FERPA privacy rights and other applicable laws. Honorlock is prohibited from using student data in any way except to carry out online exam proctoring services. The information transmitted belongs to each school.

We only collect student data required to proctor exams

We only collect student data required to proctor the online exam and most of it is already available in the LMS. This information is used to verify identity and protect integrity. 

Here’s the student data we collect:

  • IP address through the Chrome extension
  • Name and email address from the LMS
  • During the test, we capture a screen recording and a webcam recording
  • A photo of the student and student ID if ID verification is enabled by the instructor or institution

Watch this one minute video that covers how Honorlock protects student privacy.

What is Honorlock?

We make online proctoring simple, secure, and human. Our online proctoring services combine the benefits of AI test monitoring software with those of live remote proctors. 

This human-centric approach to online proctoring helps bring integrity, humanity, confidence, and positive outcomes to online testing.

Our purpose is to create a better testing experience that supports and empowers faculty and students – not simply to prevent cheating. When you create a fair and equitable test environment that builds confidence and protects academic integrity, everyone wins.

How does Honorlock work?

Our proctoring software monitors each student’s exam session and alerts a live, remote proctor if it detects any potential problems. 

This provides the remote proctor with the opportunity to intervene and help the student get back on track. 

Our remote proctoring services are convenient and easy to use for instructors and students. Instructors can quickly create proctored exams in the LMS like they already do, choose the proctoring features, and then review actionable exam reports. And it’s just as simple for students – they simply log into the LMS, verify their identity, and begin the exam like they’re accustomed to.

In addition, our proctoring services protect exams in a variety of ways such as:

  • Detecting cell phone use
  • Reducing the number of test questions and answers available on unauthorized homework help sites
  • Detecting voices and other sounds
  • Using video proctoring for identity verification, room scanning, and monitoring behavior

Other benefits of Honorlock remote proctoring:

  • 24/7 support is available to students and faculty
  • Students can take the proctored exams anytime they’re ready – 24/7/365 
  • The direct LMS integration means faculty and students will use a platform they’re already familiar with
  • Exam results are quickly available within the LMS

Want to see Honorlock in action? Schedule a demo.

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1Susan Grajek and the 2019–2020 EDUCAUSE IT Issues Panel, “Top 10 IT Issues, 2020: The Drive to Digital Transformation Begins,” EDUCAUSE Review Special Report, January 27, 2020.

2How to protect student data privacy in college, Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse, September 14, 2021.