Honorlock FAQ

NOTE: Honorlock is available by request only. To learn more, including associated fees, contact itsupport@umd.edu.

This document about use of Honorlock at UMD is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions, contact the University of Maryland (UMD) Office of General Counsel.

What is Honorlock?

Honorlock is the current UMD online ID verification and proctorting tool. UMD has a contract with Honorlock to verify identity and proctor examinations online. Honorlock is bound by a UMD master service agreement (MSA, a contract reached between parties, in which the parties agree to most of the terms that will govern future transactions or future agreements) and has agreed to protect captured data as an agent of UMD and thus is FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) compliant.

What does Honorlock do?

Honorlock allows faculty to schedule a proctored online examination for students in ELMS-Canvas. Faculty can schedule an examination ahead of time. Before taking an examination, students may be asked to provide facial recognition identification, provide photo identification, and a view of their surroundings (dependent upon which options their instructor chose for their examination). 

Does Honorlock work outside the ELMS-Canvas platform?

No. The use of Honorlock by UMD instructors is limited within the ELMS-Canvas Quiz tool.

Why did UMD decide to contract with Honorlock?

We looked at many different product options and benchmarked them against a list of requirements. Honorlock was found to be one of the best solutions with respect to student privacy. We found it less invasive when compared to many other products. Honorlock proctors do not watch students all of the time, only when specific behaviors trigger alerts. Our purchase of Honorlock is for pop-in proctoring, which means proctors only appear when behaviors trigger the need.

How do Honorlock and Respondus LockDown Browser differ?

These two tools were designed to fulfill different assessment needs. LockDown Browser is designed to be used in a lab or classroom setting where an individual is present to observe test-taking. Honorlock is designed so students can take an exam in a proctored remote location. LockDown Browser prevents simultaneous access to applications including messaging, screen-sharing, virtual machines, and remote desktops but allows students to use a textbook, notes, and their mobile phones during an examination. Printing and screen capture functionality are disabled as is copying and pasting answers for an ELMS-Canvas quiz. Also, an assessment cannot be exited until the student submits it for grading. The use of LockDown Browser is limited to LockDown Browser’s own internet browser functionality.

Is Honorlock FERPA compliant?

Certain student information and records are covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). UMD protects the information and records in accordance with FERPA and other applicable laws. The UMD Office of Procurement and Strategic Sourcing, in partnership with the Division of Information Technology (DIT) security team and the Registrar's office, makes sure that appropriate FERPA language, and language required by other applicable laws, is included as needed in any contract with a third-party information technology service provider signed on behalf of UMD (regardless of Division or College). UMD’s agreements with third-party providers meet all of UMD’s obligations under FERPA.

Honorlock, like any other approved UMD’s third-party service provider, is prohibited from using student data in any way except to carry out the contracted services. The information transmitted through these systems belongs to UMD and is governed under the UMD Policy on the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources that sets forth standards for responsible and acceptable use of UMD IT resources. These resources include computer systems, computer labs, applications, networks, software and files.

Is there a fee to use Honorlock?

Faculty interested in integrating Honorlock with their ELMS-Canvas course must engage in a Memorandum of Understanding with DIT which acts as an Honorlock agent. The cost of service is $16 per student exam session. The MOU will identify a KFS number for billing and a department or college representative who can authorize the expenditure.

Do students need to consent to be proctored?

Pursuant to Maryland law, students must be given verbal and/or visual notification of recording at the beginning of any session to alert the students that "this activity is being recorded." If a participant continues to participate after being notified that the activity is being recorded, their consent to recording is implied.

UMD strongly suggests that instructors do both of the following:

  1. Provide a written notification in your syllabus that Honorlock will be used for high stakes testing in your course.
  2. Provide a written notification in the instructions for taking exams in which Honorlock will be deployed.

Why and when is online proctoring necessary?

Proctored testing enables the university to ensure the academic integrity of assessments and to comply with federal regulations that require universities offering online and distance education to verify student identity. Traditional face-to-face classes that aren't conducive to testing in the classroom typically rely on testing facilities for live, in-person proctoring of exams.

During the social distancing of COVID-19 and the closure of campus classrooms, online proctoring offers an alternative to in-person proctored testing. This is a common practice of online and distance learning courses and is used by universities throughout the world. Though instructors may use a variety of alternate assessment strategies, they may also rely on online proctoring to ensure the security of tests offered to students being assessed online. Online proctoring helps prevent academic honor violations such as:

Are instructors required to use Honorlock?

No. Your instructor may use a variety of assessment strategies that don't include online proctoring. However, when the nature of the course or instruction makes online proctoring a necessity, your instructor may choose Honorlock to ensure the academic integrity of your test. These assessment strategies on how to adapt exams and assignments for teaching remotely are available to all UMD instructors. In acknowledgement of the disruptions that students and instructors are experiencing, these are flexible, supportive recommendations that provide options for conducting final exams with or without the use of identity verification and proctoring.

When used in conjunction with the ELMS-Canvas Quiz tool, Honorlock provides an elevated level of test-taking integrity. It should be deployed for high-stakes assessment such as mid-term and final examinations. Honorlock is a human-resource-intensive tool and should not be used in conjunction with low-stakes, formative quizzing.  If you wish to prepare your students for taking an Honorlock exam, you can create a Practice Exam. See the “How to Create a Practice Exam-Faculty Guide” that is available in the Instructor Guide to Honorlock.

Is it true that my student information could be sold to third parties if I participate in an online proctored test?

No. The university's agreement with Honorlock for online test proctoring does not allow Honorlock to sell student information to third parties. As mentioned above, our contract with Honorlock has specific legal requirements for the protection of student information that supersede Honorlock's standard Terms of Service (publicly available on their website) and bind Honorlock to all of the protections supplied by FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).

How does Honorlock work and how does it protect student privacy?

Instead of interacting with your computer at the operating system level or necessitating a software download, Honorlock requires that you only use the Google Chrome browser and install the Honorlock Chrome extension. This helps to minimize any unnecessary or perceived invasion of student privacy. Google Chrome extensions are sandboxed within the Chrome browser, and they only have access to limited operations provided by the browser. The extension is only active while you are within the ELMS-Canvas environment. When the Honorlock extension is active, there is a flashing red indicator on the extension. If this indicator is not being shown, you can trust that nothing is actively being monitored or recorded during that time. If you still have concerns, we recommend creating a new Google Chrome person or profile to complete your testing with Honorlock. This will create a fresh version of the Google Chrome browser free of all data and when finished, you can simply remove the extension. This can easily be accomplished by right clicking on the extension and selecting Remove from Chrome.

All data, including photos and video, is stored in an encrypted format on isolated storage systems within Honorlock’s private cloud in Amazon’s AWS U.S. data centers. They are SOC 2 Type 1, U.S. Privacy Shield and GDPR compliant.

Who has access to student data?

Only UMD personnel with legitimate educational interest in the records may have access to student data. Also key staff within Honorlock will have access, if needed, in order to provide quality control and support for UMD instructors. These individuals are bound to the FERPA and privacy requirements required by the UMD/Honorlock master service agreement.

What are Honorlock’s minimum requirements?

These are Honorlock's minimum system requirements. Honorlock will work on any device that can run the full Chrome browser (including Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS). Windows-based and Chrome OS tablets should work; however, iOS and iPads and Android do not support the full Chrome browser and are not compatible with Honorlock. Honorlock requires internet access and students MUST have a web camera for online proctoring. Instructors should work with students to identify who cannot meet those requirements and find alternative solutions.

What do I do if I don't have the resources needed to participate in online proctored testing?

Being displaced during the COVID-19 social distancing period may put you in a situation where online proctored testing is difficult or impossible. Depending on your living situation, you may not have access to reliable internet, computer hardware, or a private space where you can test uninterrupted. Communicate any limitations or obstacles you have with online proctored testing to your instructors so they can work with you. Students experiencing a financial hardship related to acquiring the appropriate technology should contact the UMD Student Crisis Fund (www.crisisfund.umd.edu). We will work with administrators of the fund to help them understand this urgent need.

Does Honorlock provide instructors with options?

Yes, the system provides flexibility that can be used at the instructor's discretion, please read this Explanation of Proctoring Options that explains in detail all the options.

Does Honorlock require that students provide a picture of a photo ID to verify their identity? Is this information saved/stored?

Instructors can choose to enable this feature. Honorlock encourages the primary use of a University/College ID and this is our recommendation. However, any photo ID that has an image of the test-taker and their name on it will work for the purposes of confirming and documenting that the student that is supposed to take the exam is the student that actually authenticates into and completes the exam.

Does Honorlock scan home networks and monitor data from any device connected to that network?

No. Honorlock does not scan home networks or monitor data from any device on the network other than the one used for testing. Secondary devices, such as phones, can be detected, but this is not accomplished by network snooping. See the questions below for more detailed information about how Honorlock tracks and monitors data and devices.

Does Honorlock monitor secondary devices?  

Honorlock does not access the test-taker’s network nor does it, in any way, monitor or access any secondary devices that are on the test-taker’s network. Honorlock does monitor the quality of the internet connection of the specific test-taking device to insure the quality of and to document the network connection stability during the test-taking experience. This helps to address and troubleshoot situations where the test-taker’s internet connection becomes unstable during the test-taking experience. Many other platforms (including Zoom) monitor network performance in a similar way. For a complete description of how Honorlock’s secondary device detection works, the patent information can be found here and on the Honorlock Patent Info for Multi-Device Detection.

Does Honorlock ‘intercept’ searches or control or interrupt network traffic from any secondary devices?

Honorlock does not ‘intercept’ searches, nor control or interrupt any network/internet traffic from any secondary devices at any time. Honorlock also does not ‘replace’ search results; it has no more control over search results than any other company. Honorlock does utilize SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in an attempt to seed what’s called “honeypot” sites in meaningful ways. Honorlock does not, at any point, hijack any device, secondary or otherwise, to deliver the service. At no point does Honorlock have direct control over any device, secondary or otherwise, before, during or after the test-taking experience.

Honorlock does not need to, nor is it able to, monitor any activity from secondary devices during the testing period to deliver the service. It directs you to the public information available on the service as a patented technology on file with the U.S. Patent Office, links provided above. 

Honorlock in no way monitors any activity on the test-taker’s network from any secondary devices. It does interact with the test-taker’s test-taking device/computer to deliver the service as outlined above regarding internet connection quality monitoring. All of the other capabilities that Honorlock offers (webcam, audio, browser activity, screen recording, etc.) are deployed at the discretion of the University of Maryland and its faculty and instructors to provide a secure remote test-taking environment.

Does Honorlock have the capability to monitor the use of my smartphone during an examination session?

Students using their smartphones to search online resources for test questions should note that Honorlock utilizes a manual technology to detect academic integrity issues. Specifically, Honorlock hosts websites with seeded test questions that, when assessed during an examination session, sets off an action on the phone. This action is picked up during the student’s session and alerts instructors and UMD proctors to review for academic integrity issues. Honorlock does not initiate any technologies to eavesdrop on the student’s smartphone activity either during or after an examination session. It is important for students to understand they are not authorized to use their phones during an Honorlock proctored examination.

What data is tracked/recorded from the web browser extension and how is it handled?

The Chrome Web browser extension allows Honorlock to interact with the student and the exam content during the exam. This includes launching the webcam window and interacting with student behavior within the exam. During the exam, the following data is captured, analyzed, and stored:

Webcam and audio analysis has certain AI capabilities built in, such as detecting the presence of zero, one, or more faces in the camera, one or more voices, etc. This AI will generate a “flag,” prompting the instructor (or UMD personnel with legitimate educational interest to the records) to review the exam session to determine if additional action is necessary to remediate any academic integrity issues.

Does the Honorlock browser application have the ability to detect and monitor other computing devices connected to the local/home network used during a student’s proctoring session?

Honorlock does not employ any technologies to allow detection of secondary devices connected to a student’s local/home network used during the proctoring session. No agents or applications are downloaded to these secondary devices to initiate any type of surveillance activities. Other users connected to the local/home network during a student’s Honorlock session can process personal or confidential information concurrently without fear of the student’s Honorlock session monitoring or eavesdropping on secondary device activities. In addition, the application does not have the capability of intercepting local/home network communications from devices connected during the student’s session.

Where does Honorlock store student data?

Honorlock uses an encrypted and secured connection during the exam. All videos and photos are stored in Honorlock’s platform. Their system runs in a secure, private cloud within Amazon’s AWS cloud platform in U.S. data centers. UMD owns the data and it is treated as student records.

How long is student data stored?

Honorlock has defined data retention periods of 12 months, after which all student-related data is automatically purged, unless the university requests an extension of a particular student’s data related to an academic integrity case. Upon request from the university, Honorlock can extend the data retention of a student’s data up to an additional 12 months.

Who monitors the test, artificial intelligence (AI) or live proctors? Who reviews the flags?

Honorlock’s AI monitors the test-taking. The AI automatically generates a flag if unusual activity is detected, such as another person entering the room. If unusual activity is detected, a live proctor is notified. In addition, Honorlock has two levels of flagging in relationship to face detection. "Face not detected" results in a high flag indicating that no face was detected within the camera window (if an instructor has required the use of a web cam during test taking).  "Face not clearly visible" generates a medium flag indicating that only part of the face was detected by the camera. Once an exam session is completed, instructors (or UMD personnel with legitimate educational interest to the records) are able to review flagged recordings to determine if there was a possible academic integrity violation.

Who determines if cheating took place during an online proctored test?

Instructors make the final assessment about whether suspected cheating has taken place during an exam session. Only students engaging in unusual activity during an exam are flagged and reviewed. If an instructor reviews the video and determines that the student did not violate UMD’s Code of Academic Integrity, no action is taken. However, if an instructor determines that the student violated the code, that instructor will follow the appropriate channels for academic honor policy violations. Students who feel wrongly accused of a violation have a channel for resolving alleged violations in the Office of Student Conduct.

Can I uninstall the Honorlock extension from my browser after my exam is over?

Yes. You are welcome to uninstall the Honorlock Chrome extension after your test is complete if you're not completely comfortable keeping it on your computer.

How does Honorlock work for students who require special accommodations?

Instructors should verify with their students with disabilities if their accommodations and adaptive technologies are compatible with Honorlock. Instructors are encouraged to review our resources about accessibility and accommodations in online courses and consult with the Accessibility & Disability Service to develop an accommodation plan with an alternative form of proctoring if a student’s accommodation or adaptive technology is not compatible with Honorlock.

What are other ways that I can ensure academic integrity in an online environment?

The university takes academic integrity very seriously and provides useful resources to be reviewed and kept in mind at the KeepTeaching website.

Should I ever need to pay for proctoring by using my credit or debit card information?

You should not need to provide direct payment to access or use any of the systems used by UMD instructors for teaching and learning purposes. No third-party tool that is integrated within ELMS-Canvas is authorized to process any kind of payment card (PCI) transaction on behalf of UMD. Please be aware, UMD has not reviewed and does not endorse the individual purchase or usage of apps nor are purchased apps required to make full use of any application through UMD’s ELMS-Canvas contract. UMD has approved and integrated enterprise apps such as Google Calendar and Zoom into ELMS-Canvas to securely extend the functionality of some of these systems. UMD’s information security team reviews all such integrations before implementation. If a user chooses to purchase an app, they do so on their own volition and outside of the terms and conditions of UMD’s contract.

Where can I find more information about student privacy and personally identifiable information used in UMD audiovisual recording systems?

This article provides additional information: Protecting Student Privacy & Personally Identifiable Information in UMD Audiovisual Recording Systems.

Will Honorlock be permanently adopted at UMD?

Honorlock was recently contracted and deployed in response to the immediate need for this type of technology in response to the COVID-19 emergency. The current agreement expires June 2021. Renewal and continuation of use after that date is to be determined.

Who should I contact if I still have questions related to privacy and the use of Honorlock?

See Honorlock’s Student Privacy Statement for additional information on Honorlock’s privacy policies.