Monday, November 19, 2012

Preventing Damage by Preventing Grade System Intrusions: Introduction

Grades are important and so manipulating grades is valuable. Manual management of the recording, computing, weighting, and totaling of an individual students grades, not to mention an entire course and even an entire semester, is extremely tedious and error prone (Migliorino & Maiden, 2004). Automated grade management systems relieve educators from many of these burdens and can even provide easy access anywhere through powerful web applications (Thinkwave, 2012). Where problems arise is when the electronic grade book falls prey to unauthorized access or, worse, modification.

Being stored electronically on a network leaves the grades subject to remote manipulation. Those manipulable grades become a target to challenge hackers, to tempt cheaters, and to profit crackers. Controlling and shaping the rankings of a class of students feeds directly into the desire for power that is a commonly self-reported motivation to hackers (Campbell & Kennedy, 2010). Cheaters gain direct academic boosts by inflating their own grades, as is covered in case studies below. Grade manipulation is a marketable good, as crackers can be paid to modify the customers’ or a third parties records.

Campbell, Q., & Kennedy, D.M. (2009). The psychology of computer criminals. In Bosworth, et al (Eds.), Computer security handbook. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Migliorino, N. J., & Maiden, J. (2004). Educator Attitudes Toward Electronic Grading Software. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 36(3), 193-212.

Thinkwave. (2012). Free Online Gradebook. Retrieved from:

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