The best way to avoid data loss on campus


DropSend.com claims to have sent more than 18.8 million large files, and it offers storage of up to two gigabytes as well. Fee-based file transfer sites include SendThisFile.com, which features transfers of up to 90 gigabytes for $69.95 a month.

Campus technology officials saw a rash of security breaches over the summer, resulting in substantial data loss.

At least three universities—the University of Maine, Penn State University, and Florida International University—reported a security breach in June, resulting in compromised Social Security numbers, academic and financial records, and other information for about 40,000 students and faculty across the three institutions.

These universities and others that have scrambled to alert faculty and students of data loss in recent years are not alone, according to research from the Identity Theft Resource Center, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization.

The number of reported data security breaches in schools and colleges increased from 111 in 2007 to 131 in 2008, according to a 2009 report released by the center. Data-security crimes jumped by 47 percent overall between 2007 and 2008, according to the research.

Raymond Rose, an online education expert who has helped establish web-based learning programs, said USBs are not only unreliable because they can be lost, but because the devices can carry viruses that will damage campus computers.

Moving massive files back and forth over the web, he said, is preferable to using USBs and other storage devices. Internet-based file transfers, however, have a down side.

“A file transfer over the internet may be safer than a USB device because some do include anti-virus checks,” Rose said, “but may not be more secure if the classic situation of  password and username are on a sticky note on the side of the monitor.”

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