Why Your Online Testing Program Needs a Secure Browser

Keeping exam content secure is key to instilling confidence in any online testing program. Whether you’re using online exam proctoring for a higher education institution, a professional association, or a licensing or certification body, the rigor, and quality of your tests matter.

That’s why your online proctoring solution must offer a secure web component that opens the exam browser when allowing test-takers to use their own devices for tests. Locking down the web browser creates a distraction-free exam environment, reducing temptations and deterring cheating.

What Is a Secure Web Browser?

A secure web browser is not a plugin – it’s a custom browser with direct access to the computer’s operating system. A browser plugin offers some security but can’t access key areas of the operating system. As a result, it cannot stop common types of exploits, like remote screen sharing, task-switching swipes, and applications running in the background.

Most online exams today are fully web-based or include elements that incorporate the internet. While most online proctoring solutions enable organizations to capture data from webcams and microphones to report on anomalous behaviors, only those offering a secure browser restrict the ability for test-takers to navigate outside of the test window.

5 Ways a Secure Web Browser Locks Down Exam Content

Here are five specific ways using a secure web browser protects your organization and test-takers:

1. Creates a secure testing environment

A secure browser deters and prevents cheating during exams by restricting a test-taker’s ability to copy/paste, open new tabs, print, or run other applications. Since the browser runs at full screen and can’t be minimized, test-takers cannot access other applications on their device, including second monitors.

These security features help ensure test-takers aren’t viewing notes, checking emails, using instant messaging, or doing internet searches during the exam. Everything is locked down until they submit their exam.

2. Integrates with your LMS and testing process

A good secure browser will integrate directly with your learning management system (LMS) and testing process, providing a seamless experience for test-takers while helping them feel more comfortable being inside a platform they already know.

Using a secure browser shouldn’t require any extra effort from instructors or test-takers. It should be easy to launch the browser within the LMS with just a few clicks on Windows, Mac, Chromebook, and iPad devices.

3. Protects your IP and exam questions

By restricting the ability to print, copy/paste, or screen record, a secure browser helps prevent test-takers from capturing and sharing your test materials with others. Also known as item-harvesting, this practice can be costly for many organizations that invest significant time and resources into their test/question development. 

Hardworking test-takers who prepared for the exam will appreciate a secure web browser for the same reasons. They want to be sure that their preparation paid off and everyone is on a level playing field.

4. Boosts confidence in online testing

Remote proctoring is a relatively new process for many people, even experienced university faculty. Using a secure web browser helps instill confidence in everyone that integrity isn’t being sacrificed.

Exam administrators need to be confident that they’re assessing the right knowledge and test-takers are following the rules. Some administrators and instructors hesitate to use online testing because they’re concerned about nefarious behavior.

In addition to online proctoring’s ability to provide identity verification and detect anomalous behaviors through webcam and microphone capture, secure browsers strengthen confidence in online testing by limiting a test-taker's ability to use the computer itself to access restricted information or record test questions and answers.

5. Reduces distractions for test-takers

Many test-takers feel anxiety around taking exams. While they often prefer remote proctoring over in-person exams, taking any test is stressful. By restricting the ability for applications to run in the background, a secure browser prevents distractions from pop-ups or notifications, allowing test-takers to focus solely on their exam.

Prior to the exam, inform test-takers that they’ll be using a secure web browser. Since online testing may be an unfamiliar format for them, good communication about integrity policies, what’s acceptable, and how to use the browser goes a long way toward minimizing exam anxiety and helping people focus on the test.

Protect Your Online Exams With a Secure Web Browser

A secure web browser adds enhanced security and a more restrictive layer to any web-based exam – without sacrificing a smooth user experience. It’s a powerful yet easy way to make sure online exam proctoring benefits both test-takers and exam administrators.

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