Question Mark Introduces Secure Browser For Web-based Assessments

Makes on-line assessments more secure than ever before

Contact
Joan Phaup
joan@questionmark.com
Tel: 800-642-3950

STAMFORD, CT – August 20, 1999 -- Question Mark Corporation has released the world's first ‘secure web browser’ ideal for delivering high-value content, such as exams and tests, over the web. Perception Secure Browser (PSB) is similar to any other browser except that all the menus, icons, control keys and the "right-click" options have been removed. It initially links to a specific URL; then navigation is limited to the links from within the web page displayed.

"Most browsers are designed to be as open and flexible as possible," explained Question Mark President Eric Shepherd. "But when you deliver certification exams on-line you don't want someone printing out your questions or saving them to disk. Questions used within high-stakes exams are expensive to develop and validate, and you don’t want them falling into the public domain. When used in conjunction with QM Perception you can specify that your content is ONLY delivered via a Secure Browser. So your tests are really secure."

Shepherd commented that anyone concerned about web browser security can benefit from PSB, which was developed in response to questions from Question Mark users about security in high stakes environments. It may also prove popular with organizations that use intranets and wish to have greater control over its network users.

The benefits of using PSB over a normal browser for high security applications include:

  • PSB stops users from printing out information or copying it into applications to pass onto others.
  • It enables tests to be displayed on a full screen, without the buttons and menu items usually displayed in a browser.
  • In an interactive environment, such as testing and assessment, it is easy for participants to inadvertently disrupt the process using an ordinary browser. If the browser user answers some questions, and then refreshes the screen, the unsubmitted answers can be lost. By disabling the Refresh or Reload button, this problem disappears.
  • Stop participants from viewing the source of the HTML documents. PSB prevents access to any HTML+ code.
  • PSB prevents the browser user from accessing other URLs while taking a test. This will stop users going to URLs that might contain the right answers to a question.
  • PSB can prevent its users from accessing other programs on their PC, blocking access to spreadsheet or calculator programs installed on the PC, or to email during a test.
  • Some security concerns can be dealt with by using browsers in kiosk mode, or by using the administration kits from Microsoft and Netscape. But none of these approaches are completely secure. PSB disables all the browser control keys and right-mouse context menus, including those to refresh the screen.

PSB runs on Windows 95, 98 or NT PCs. Question Mark has designed the browser for use in conjunction with its Perception software suite, the world's leading system for online assessment. For instance, if a test has been created using Perception, PSB can also be used to deliver tests remotely (to somebody at home or in their office). The person taking the tests will not be able to open the test URL with a normal browser.

Question Mark has been producing testing and assessment software for 11 years. The company offers a full range of products for the testing and assessment marketplace spanning Windows 3.X and 95, DOS, Macintosh and Web environments. Question Mark is actively involved with the IMS project, which aims to build a new architecture for learning over the Web. The goal of the IMS project ( http://www.imsproject.org) is the widespread adoption of specifications that will allow distributed learning environments and content from multiple authors to work together. Question Mark can be reached at 800-863-3950, 203-425-2400, or at http://www.questionmark.com.

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