Training management systems (TMS) are at the hub of an organization’s training operations, managing various components and integrating with systems such as ERP, billing, HR, LCMS, LDAP systems, and more. Protecting users’ identities and other sensitive data as it is transferred between these and other components is a top concern. Each of these systems is constantly updated, with a regular flow of data enabling effective and efficient workflows, but also offering a potential security risk. Mitigating these risks and additional security incidents is a critical step for any organization.
Measures to ensure secure communication between the TMS and its interfaces
Organizations cannot risk any breach or leak of sensitive data and therefore should ensure the following:
Role-Based Hierarchies, Multi-factor and Single-Sign-On Authentication
Comprehensive password control should define password policies and audit login trials, and block users after a specified number of failed login attempts, and forbidden resource, application entities or page access attempts.
A role-based hierarchy restricts network access based on the roles of individual TMS users, ensuring that users can only access the information that is pertinent to their role, and that they are not allowed to wander throughout the system and potentially harm data integrity.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires two or more forms of authentication to protect the systems, such as a password and a one-time code that is generated at each login attempt. Adding an additional level of security to those accessing the system lessens the risk of hostile incursions.
Single-Sign-On (SSO) is a session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials, such as name and password, instead of requiring different criteria for each system component. SSO is designed to enable a smoother user experience since the user only has to enter their credentials once to access multiple applications within a specified period.
Scheduled, Regular Backups
The TMS should have regular backups that can be utilized if a failure occurs. User actions should be logged, and suspicious behavior should provide alerts and notifications.
Compliance with Specific Standards
A TMS vendor should maintain the following standards:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2016/679, a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the European Union and the European Economic Area
- ISO standards such as ISO 27001:2013, ISO27017:2015 and ISO 9001:2015, for the development and implementation of a training management solution
Internal Security Policies
Organizations should ensure that not only are its products IT security procedures and policies for its employees, network, servers, devices and conduct regular security audits and ongoing training for its employees.
All web traffic must use SSL or another secure protocol, such as VPN or Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) to encrypt the communication between other applications. Every web service in the application should be protected by security checks, based on authentication and user privileges.
Web Application Firewall Protection
The Web Application Firewall (WAF) should be configured to filter and block harmful HTTP traffic in the application layer. It should protect against query string tampering, cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injections, illegal resource access, remote file inclusion and offer backdoor protection.
A strong, proven WAF is also a safeguard against DDOS attacks. These Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) strikes are a type of malicious cyber-attacks that hackers or cyber-criminals employ to make an online service. Targets of DDoS attacks are flooded with thousands or millions of superfluous requests, overwhelming the system until its complete collapse. Despite all preventive measures, should such an attack occur, the TMS notify users and provide a complete report describing the incident and required actions.
Cross-Site Scripting Protection
All data should be checked by the server, in addition to any client-side checking. This includes GETs and POSTs, as well as file uploads that might be vulnerable to content spoofing attacks.
Getting the Organization on Board
The leading cause of data and security breaches – over 90 percent – is attributable to employee behavior, either malicious or more commonly, just plain human error. Organizations should implement a variety of training schemes that will educate users about correct safety procedures and methods to protect the organization’s data and resources.
Establishing and Enforcing Strong Security Policies
While no single system, application or policy can guarantee that a Training Management System and its interfaces will remain free from an attack, instituting strong security policies throughout the organization and integrated systems, and getting employees on board can go far to protect users and data integrity.