University of Hertfordshire

A Focus Group Study: Usability and Security of Challenge Question Authentication in Online Examinations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


  • Abrar Ullah
  • Trevor Barker
  • Hannan Xiao
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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Conference on Information Technology and Applications
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


Online examinations are open to many security threats. These include intrusion by hackers, and collusion and plagiarism by students. This paper presents a focus group study to understand the views of online programme tutors on security threats to online examinations, authentication approaches and the proposed challenge question method. The findings showed that majority of participants were concerned about impersonation and abetting in online examinations. In the context of collusion attacks, challenge question method was considered a preferred authentication approach. The feedback on usability of different type of challenge questions indicates that dynamic profile questions are more usable than image-based and text-based questions. There was an agreement that the proposed method could influence impersonation attacks. However, some participants showed concern about abetting attacks, and supported the use of remote proctoring and secure browsing tools in addition to the challenge question method.

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