Everything Can And Will Be Hacked: digital testing systems

classroom testIt’s an old story, but worth bringing up because of the fundamental truth it teaches us. Back in the nineties, a company called Edutron Systems was trying to get schools to upgrade from the hopelessly antiquated pencil-and-paper test system to its disk-based gizmo, with predictable results:

It took all of one test for the students to find a flaw in the system: if one received an unsatisfactory score, he could simply retake the test. Classroom Assistant didn’t bother recording how many times each test was taken. Sure, retaking the test several times was time-consuming, but generally worth the effort.

On the second test, students found a slightly easier workaround: they could simply run a different test. Since the results screen did not indicate which test was taken, all one needed to do was open up the “Test Taking Tutorial” test and pass it with flying colors.

It gets worse as it goes on, of course – kids are resourceful when they want to avoid something onerous.

And so, the lesson is: everything can and will be hacked; the greater the motivation for a successful hack, the faster it will occur. Maybe time to back off on those ambitious plans for biometric passports, eh? [story via Hack A Day] [image by ccarlstead]

2 thoughts on “Everything Can And Will Be Hacked: digital testing systems”

  1. And back in The Netherlands, in one of its sanest moves (and yes, there have been insane ones), our government decided to go back to old-fashioned paper voting because there was insufficient evidence that voting computers weren’t tamper-proof.

    Sometimes I do love my country, indeed.

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