nta: the NTA has tested a new security protocol for “completely” secure computerized tests

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NEW DELHI: Drawing on previous experiences in conducting computer tests, the National Testing Agency (NTA) has decided to install new “security patches” two hours before the start of the National Eligibility Commission of the Commission of university grants (UGC-NET) on Saturday.

This extra layer of security measures means the random downloading and installation of new software. While in the majority of the 304 centers the installation was successful, seven centers encountered technical problems and exams had to be cancelled. There were also a few centers that needed more time for installation, which delayed first shift exams by up to two hours.

While this new feature will now be part of the exam safety and security protocol for all computer-based exams that will be conducted by the NTA, including JEE (Mains) and CUET-UG, the agency has now decided to begin the adding security patches four to five hours before the exam.

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The NTA said on Saturday that candidates from centers where exams have been canceled will have another chance to take the test, its official said that centers that suffered delays in the morning exam have finally completed the test and that candidates received all three hours.

Clarifying that the random installation of security patches is now part of its exam security protocol, the Agency has now decided to start the process from 4 a.m. on the day of the test, instead of 7 a.m. for exams starting at 9 a.m.

Speaking to TOI, NTA chief executive Vineet Joshi said that to make the system foolproof, the agency decided to update the software with new “security patches” ahead of the exams.

“To ensure security and safety, we decided to add new security patches on the system two hours before the exam. On Saturday, which is the first time we tried this new security layer, it took some time to download and install the software, which caused a delay and in some centers the examinations could not be carried out.

According to Joshi, exams have been canceled at seven centers. Other centers have managed to start examinations with a delay of up to two hours. “However, all candidates were given the three hours due to take the test,” he said.

NTA sources revealed that attempts had been made earlier to compromise its exams, including reserving exam centers a day before the exam for certain activities.

“Among many measures, we ask that the centers be completely isolated for any other activity not be reserved for any other activity where computers must be used. Additionally, we typically remove the specific software used by NTA after the review is complete. But this new protocol of randomly installing new software right before the exam will ensure a completely safe exam,” Joshi said.

The NTA says there were no technical issues during Saturday’s second quarter testing. In order to put an end to the delay, “the administrative and technical staff in charge of running the exam will arrive at the centers at 4 am instead of 7 am. This will give five hours to install the software,” Joshi said.

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