Full Project – Security and integrity of result computations in cloud computing environment

Full Project – Security and integrity of result computations in cloud computing environment

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1.1 Background  of the Study

Generally  it  is  known  that  in  our  knowledge  and  technology-driven  global village, each country’s economic and social well-being depends on its ability to harness its  human  resources  through a  dynamic  and  innovative  educational system that thrives on and propels technological development. This required link between educational and technological development is particularly critical at the higher levels of the educational system, and especially, university education. Internet connectivity and various forms of web-enabled technologies are  growing  exponentially,  and  more  and  more  information  is  becoming available on-line, thereby opening up new information research and networking opportunities. These developments are erasing the traditional borders and boundaries of learning, and leading to radical changes in the activities of scholarly communities. Modern university education now depends on a robust programme of automated information services to support and facilitate teaching, learning, research and management. This scenario of accelerated technological change poses new challenges and opportunities for universities, and Nigerian universities must re-position themselves quickly and continuously to exploit prevailing information technologies to efficiently meet their teaching, learning and research mission. This research work is therefore centered on cloud computing which is an unexplored technology most especially in the Education. Cloud computing is a recent concept that is still evolving across the information technology industry and academia. Several definitions have evolved so far, the National  Institute  of  Standards  and  Technology  (Mell  and  Grance,  2011), defines cloud computing as “a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of  configurable computing resources (e.g., networks,  servers,  storage,  applications,  and  services)  that  can  be  rapidly

provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction ˮ. There are three major types of cloud computing services: First, Processing Clouds that provide scalable and mostly affordable computing resources that  run  enterprise  programs,  which  is  also  sometimes  known  as Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Secondly,   Storage Clouds that offer an alternative to local file systems also known as   Platform as a Service (PaaS), and thirdly, Application Clouds that allow a thin client to interact with services that are completely hosted on an external infrastructure also called Software as a Service (SaaS) (Ajith and Hemalatha, 2012).

The basic principle of cloud computing entails the reduction of in-house data centres and the delegation of a portion or all of the Information Technology infrastructure capability to a third party. This holds the promise of driving down cost while fostering innovation and promoting educational development. Institutions of higher learning, such as Universities and Colleges, are the core of innovation through their advanced research and  development. Subsequently, higher Institutions may benefit greatly by exploiting the power of cloud computing,  including  cost  cutting  as  well  as  all  the  above  types  of  cloud services (Goetzinger,  1962).  This research  work presents a  frame  work  for implementing necessary security and integrity of result computation in cloud computing environment in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.  Mathematically, a result is a quantity or expression obtained by calculation after an examination while result computation is a mathematical process or calculation involving numbers or quantities obtained from the outcome of an examination based on institutional rules guiding result computation. Nigerian Universities are facing problems in providing necessary Information Technology (IT) support for educational, research and development activities. Every year, lots of data are collected, used and stored in Nigerian Universities, such as student’s personal information, admission details, courses offered, examination scores, etc. These data increases every year as the number of students increases and must be made


available or accessible, even many years after completion of a programme from a University which could span for a minimum of four years. These large volume of data requires lots of storage and computing resources such as speed, storage memory, efficiency, etc.

1.2 Statement of Problem

The entire process of result computation begins with the collation of individual course  lecturer’s  result  or  scores  which  are     submitted  to  the  Head  of Department depending on the institution’s policy guiding result submission and computation.   After   collation,   the   results   are   then   handed   over   to   the examination officer or submitted to a central office with the responsibility of computing results. The questions that come to mind are; how secured are the data? How often will the data storage capacity be increased to enable it meet the increasing demand of the data? How is the integrity of the data maintained? What  is  the  cost  of  providing  and  maintaining  the  required  storage  and computing resources? How available or accessible are the data?.

Mostly, these records are manually processed by collating individual candidate’s results and computed by the designated officer(s) before results are being produced. The above named processes are faced with the following challenges:

  • Time wasting: A proper evaluation of the manual system of result computation shows that lots of time is being wasted during the processes involved in computation of results. These includes the time wasted awaiting result submission from individual lecturers, manual computation of individual student’s result, time wasting due to system break down, correction of errors, having to wait for a system expert to solve trivial problems that basic knowledge of computer would have solved, etc.
  • Data  Inconsistency:   Following   the       processes   involved   in computation of result, the possibility of errors cannot be ruled out since a lot of persons are involved in the computation processes. Thus, the consistency of the result,  is therefore not guaranteed.
  • High Cost of Ownership: There is a realization in Nigeria that the government alone cannot adequately shoulder the high cost of quality education in  the  21st  century.  Partnership  between  government, industry  and  stakeholders  appears  to  be  the  preferred  option.  In Nigeria, a number of organizations for example, Education Trust Fund (ETF), Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) etc donate ICT   laboratories   equipped   with   computers   to   some   tertiary institutions.   In   addition   they   pay   for   one   year   or   two   years maintenance fee and mandate the recipient institution to sustain the facility.  Most  of  these  laudable  efforts  have  failed  because  the recipients were unable to pay for the high cost of system maintenance and system upgrade. This is because the cost of ICT Infrastructure in Nigeria consist of not only capital cost but also high operating cost. Thus the cost of ownership is very high.
  • De-centralization:  Currently,     some     Universities     do     result computation manually or electronically on standalone systems i.e. individual departmental result   resides on different computers or devices. Therefore, the security of such result cannot be guaranteed i.e. the decentralization of results makes it difficult to protect the data from illegal usage or unforeseen data loss. Thus, it is the investigation of the above problems and providing solutions that this research work is based on.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The objectives of this research work are to develop a system that should be able:

i         to compute result in cloud environment.

  1. ii. to  provide  a 4-level security  system  for maintaining the security  and integrity of result computation in cloud computing environment.


1.4     Scope of the Study

The scope of this work is to develop a cloud based software which will be deployed using a private cloud deployment model. This application will majorly be  used  for  the computation  of  result  in  Nigerian  universities  with  strictly adherence to the application security by proposing a four-level user authentication.

1.5     Limitation of the Study

There are numbers of limitation that are to be noted in this research work:

  1. The infrastructures used is this research work is an abstract model of the proposed data centre used in the work, this is due to insufficient fund to set up the real scenario of the proposed model .
  2. Cloud computing is an emerging computing paradigm that is yet to be embraced in this part of the globe and therefore made it difficult to source for research materials needed for this work.

1.6     Significance of the study

The study will provide the Nigerian Universities with a reliable and secured environment for result computation which is fast, effective and efficient for result processing and management with little or no concern to the storage and computing resources (speed, storage capacity, etc.). Most importantly, the study will also foster the reduction of  the huge financial budget invested into IT on Nigerian Universities. Also, the time wasted in the result computation processes will be largely reduced thereby propelling institutional development.

Over the years,  nigerian universities have been computing results manually which usually results into large volume of paper usage, not only that the papers degradate over the years but also a lot of valuable storage spaces are being used for the safe keeping. Thus, this research work is geared at solving the storage problems and also to foster future usage and accessiblity of records amongst others. The adoption of   cloud technology with the peculiarity of it’s price models would help to reduce the stained educational budget for running ICT projects in the nigerian universities, this could also serve asan optimun solutions to other ICT needs within the university and could also foster content sharing, collaboration and research within local and internationl universities.

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Full Project – Security and integrity of result computations in cloud computing environment