Colleges and universities store a trove of sensitive information, including student records, coursework and research. While hackers probably don’t take summer vacations, college networks do see a dramatic rise in attacks during the academic year that runs from September to May. Given this increase in activity and recent data breaches, it is imperative that schools readdress their strategies for protecting this data in the coming school year.
WinMagic Data Security recently published “Protecting Student and Institutional Privacy,” an eBook outlining the many security challenges education institutions are facing today and how data encryption can solve many of these data-protection challenges. In this slideshow, Mark Hickman, COO at WinMagic Data Security, has identified the top five data-protection challenges educational institutions will face in the 2014-15 school year.
Higher Education Security Challenges
Click through for five security challenges colleges and universities will be facing this year, as identified by WinMagic Data Security.
Making sure BYOD doesn’t become Bring Your Own Disaster.
The BYOD trend is inevitable across campuses with students and faculty bringing their own mobile devices, laptops, tablets, and USB keys. Even when the school does supply the devices, they are in shared work stations. While this practice saves the school money and enriches the learning environment, it introduces countless avenues for the sharing of users’ sensitive information; furthermore, it is difficult to manage the disparate devices. A centralized multi-platform and multi-device management system is needed for comprehensive supervision.
Employing a centralized administration that graduates students and retires faculty.
A school community is a living, breathing entity. Students transfer from other institutions and graduate. Visiting faculty members spend short periods of time at an institution to collaborate on research projects. Centralized administration of these users is vital to govern how users are accessing data and when. The deployed management system must accommodate the comings and goings of community members while also flagging suspicious activity. Both characteristics are key to successful data security.
Sharing professional — not personal— information when collaborating.
When sharing research information with other institutions, it is important that personally identifiable information (PII) not tag along for the ride. Given the prevalence of portable storage devices, the massive amounts of data that they can contain, and the lack of control organizations have over how their users connect to the Internet, the unauthorized proliferation of sensitive identifiable information is a growing concern.
Eliminating data encryption myths.
Countless misconceptions surround data encryption technologies and scare educational institutions. With so much information out there, it is hard for even the most educated administrators to separate fact from fiction. Here’s the reality for four common myths surrounding data encryption:
- Data encryption does not slow down system performance.
- Data encryption helps meet regulations for protecting personal and corporate information.
- Data encryption solutions supply cross-platform support and manageability that most O/S encryption capabilities lack.
- Data encryption solutions are not too expensive, especially if you take into account the cost of an institution’s data at risk and IT labor.
Securing Data Painlessly
Controlling and securing data without causing user pain.
Device management and data protection solutions sometimes make it harder for users to get to the information they need. Some encryption solutions make simple tasks, like resetting passwords and provisioning users, into major hassles for IT teams – and everyone complains up the university leadership hierarchy. Like many other organizations, IT security teams at educational institutions need to find security solutions that don’t interfere with how students, faculty and staff interact with each other.