Proctorio: How It Works And Detects Cheating


With the growth of online learning comes complimenting technologies geared towards areas deterrent to plagiarism, and other forms of cheating.

One such technology currently being leveraged to improve the security of online examinations is online proctoring.

While in the past, securing online examinations from student cheating seemed impossible, companies like ProctorU and Proctorio now provide secure proctoring services for educational institutions and corporations.

Students no longer need to visit service centers to take their examinations and schools can now be assured of a high level of security from cheating in their assessments.

What is Online Proctoring

A form of online assessment invigilation usually provided by 3rd-party organizations by leveraging artificial intelligence or live proctors.

This form of monitoring serves as an invigilator during student assessment even at the comfort of their respective homes.

Types Of Online Proctoring

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– Automated Proctoring

This involves leveraging artificial intelligence to detect any instances or attempts made to cheat. The system tracks participants’ facial movements, and browsers to identify any abnormalities during a test.

The examination is also recorded and any identified abnormalities are flagged for review on completion. Although AI proctors can identify and flag abnormalities, they can sometimes misinterpret a situation and therefore flag it.

– Live Proctoring

These are essentially online human invigilators who leverage the student’s webcam, and microphone to detect any abnormalities during test-taking.

While live proctors could be distracted and miss some oddities, they can more easily differentiate mistakes or distractions from attempted cheating.

– Recorded Proctoring

A video and audio recording of the student during the test is recorded including screenshots that can be taken at random times or specific times.

Once the test has been completed, a reviewer would then scan through the video at a convenient speed to identify and flag any abnormalities.

What Is Proctorio

Proctorio is a remote proctoring service that safeguards online tests to ensure academic integrity. Using artificial intelligence the software monitors test takers and flags any identified abnormalities.

The software can be installed as an extension in your browser to monitor test-takers during examinations.

How Does Proctorio Work

Proctorio browser extension leverages strict monitoring protocols to facilitate online test invigilation.

The software ensures candidate adherence to academic integrity by monitoring facial movement, sound, screen recording, and keystrokes.

To use Proctorio, candidates need to install the specific browser extension for their respective internet browsers. Supported browsers include:

  • Microsoft Edge
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera
  • Brave

The browser extension provides Proctorio some level of access and control over activities inside the browser including

  • Read and change all candidate data on the websites they visit
  • Capture the contents of the screen
  • Manage candidate downloads
  • Manage apps, extensions, and themes
  • Display notifications
  • Modify copy and paste data
  • Identify and eject storage devices
  • Change privacy-related settings

While this level of access may seem invasive, Proctorio is committed to ensuring candidate data is only available to the candidate’s academic institution or organization’s representative.

Data is encoded making it impossible for others besides this representative to access.

What Proctorio Records

Proctorio software will be able to do the following while active during an ongoing test. Note that the instructor can choose which of these settings to enable.

– Record Video Using Candidate’s Webcam

Proctorio will have access to the candidate’s webcam thereby recording any facial movements and any background movements.

This means a computer with a webcam is a requirement for the Proctorio test unless otherwise decided by the instructor or representative.

– Record Audio Using Candidate’s Microphone

The software also gains access to the candidate’s microphone which will record any sounds made during the test.

This prevents others from shouting out answers to any questions and also enables Proctorio to identify candidate keystrokes.

– Capture Computer Screen

Any activities performed on the computer will be recorded by the extension during the test or examination. This video will be available for the institution’s representative to review after the test.

– Access Websites Visited

Proctorio will be able to access which websites the candidate has visited during an examination and will also be able to close tabs any tabs in the browser.

It is recommended that candidates should close all tabs and windows before starting their online test.

– Location And ID

Using the camera, candidates are required to present their identification documents for scanning and the software is also able to track the candidate’s location.

What Proctorio Restricts

– Single Monitor

Candidates are required to only use a single monitor during test-taking. The software can identify any connected devices to the candidate’s computer.

– Single Tab

Candidates are required to only have one open tab during the test. The software has permission to close any other tabs during the examination.

– Copy-Pasting And Right-Clicking

Proctorio also restricts right-clicking and copy-paste functionality during test-taking. Candidates will therefore be unable to highlight or copy any parts of the available questions during test-taking.

– Printing And Downloads

Candidates are also restricted from printing out or downloading any content during tests. The prevents candidates from easily transferring information to a 3rd-party outside the field of view of the webcam.

What Will Proctorio Flag You For

Being a software Proctorio will flag any abnormality or suspicious behavior which is compiled and presented to the instructor or school representative, after the test, to examine the severity of the abnormality.

How Does Proctorio Detect Cheating

Proctorio detects cheating through the implementation of strict online test monitoring protocols that monitor student behavior through computer webcam and microphone while restricting certain browser activities including copy-pasting.

Based on the settings specified by the instructor, the software can flag suspicious behavior which is presented to the instructor or organization’s representative who decides on which flagged behavior constitutes cheating.

Proctorio is fully automated and simply flags any suspicious activities which are later submitted to the instructor or the representative of the educational institution or company for review.

The artificial intelligence is trained to identify facial movements during tests, and also record keyboard strokes.

Additionally, the software records the computer screen and monitors and restricts certain activities through in the browser including copy-pasting, highlighting, switching tabs, and even minimizing the browser window.

How Does Proctorio Detect Phones

While there’re rumors that online proctoring companies can use the candidate’s IP to detect the use of any phones, these haven’t been substantiated especially considering the legal challenges that would surround tracking a candidate’s phone.

As of this moment, the conclusion we can make is that this is simply meant to serve as some form of scare tactic.

While these companies may not be able to track the usage of any phones in the vicinity, they would be able to see any interactions on the phone if within the field of view of the webcam or as a result of a reflection.

Some organizations also recommend that candidates’ hands are always within the frame of the webcam to avoid candidates using their phones or collecting tips from others unseen in the vicinity.

Proctorio Lock Down

To deter candidates from cheating, instructors or the institution’s representatives can enable or disable the various functionalities of Proctorio’s lockdown settings.


When Does Proctorio Flag You

Proctorio will flag candidates based on any breach associated with the settings specified by the instructor or the candidate’s institution’s representative

Does Proctorio Tell You If You Get Flagged

No. The software only presents any flagged behavior to the instructor or the educational institution’s representative who then determine which flagged behavior constitutes cheating or attempted cheating

Does Proctorio Track Eye Movement

No. Although Proctorio does not track eye movement, the software tracks facial movement to ensure candidates aren’t looking away from the screen for an extended period. Looking away from the screen for an extended period can however get candidates flagged for potential cheating

Can Proctorio Detect Virtual Machine

Yes. While this is highly debated in many online communities, Proctorio can detect virtual machines. However, the virtualization software can be tweaked to successfully cloak and avoid key system properties detection.

Can Proctorio Detect TeamViewer

Yes. Using TeamViewer displays a red border around computer screens which can easily be detected. Additionally, TeamViewer will also be visible in the tasks tray and computer processes as well

Can Proctorio See Your Search History

No. Proctorio simply monitors and restricts certain activities during test-taking while assuring the privacy of candidates. That said, the application technically receives the necessary permissions to perform such an action when a candidate agrees to the permission prompts

Can Proctorio See Other Browsers

Yes. While Proctorio recommends that candidates close any other windows and tabs, it’s able to identify any open tabs, browsers, or windows during test-taking

Akshay Vikhe

I am an aspiring Data Scientist with a huge interest in technology. I like to review courses that are genuine and add real value to student’s careers. Read my story

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