Don’t be complacent about data security

Have you ever been awoken by a loud noise in the middle of the night? Your body shifts from resting to alert in an instant. What just happened? Am I safe? Is the house secure? Did I lock the doors? At some point, you either get out of bed to investigate, or assure yourself it was nothing, and you go back to sleep.

We go through a similar shift from sleepy ignorance to total awareness each time a company reports a data breach that has put our personal information at risk. Except in these incidents, we have far less control over what happens next—and far less visibility into both the causes of the breach and the subsequent fixes and safeguards that the company implements to prevent such an event from happening again.

Data security is a major concern for education, even though, much like consumers, we may take it for granted unless there is a problem. But the stakes grow higher every year. As education continues to adopt new technologies to support teaching and learning, more personal data on students and their learning activities is stored online.…Read More

August could be a bad month for data security in higher education

Universities recently reported a deluge of cyber attacks from China.

The return of college students to campuses next month could mark a data-stealing bonanza for hackers as unprotected personal information moves back and forth between institutions and their students.

More than half of colleges and universities transmit various kinds of sensitive information – including financial details – over unencrypted channels, according to a survey conducted by HALOCK Security Labs, a security firm based in Illinois.

One-fourth of the 162 institutions included in HALOCK’s survey said they advised students and parents to send personal information – including W2 documents – via eMail.…Read More

The March Madness bracket feared by every campus IT official

UCLA still has the worst campus data breach ever recorded.

March Madness has yet to tip off, and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has already won a championship. This run through the NCAA Tournament brackets, however, won’t end with campus celebrations, especially in VCU’s IT department.

VCU, a 32,000-student campus in Richmond, Va., that came up one game short of the 2011 NCAA Tournament championship game in its improbable path to the Final Four last spring took home a less glamorous prize March 12, when the university was named the winner of the 2012 Higher Education Data Breach Madness tournament.

Application Security, a database security company based in New York, released a bracket filled with colleges and universities that reported the worst database breaches from the previous year. All 48 higher-education data incidents were mentioned in the bracket, and 16 schools were given bye-rounds.…Read More

How to avoid accidental data breaches

Universities house a large amount of personal student and employee data.
Universities present particular challenges in securing sensitive information.

College campuses are centers for learning and exploration, where students and faculty develop, exchange, and trade information. More than most other organizations, colleges and universities are in a continuous state of information sharing and data creation, and they rely heavily on the ability to seamlessly share, store, and protect that information within their communities and among their partners.

What’s more, life on a campus is always in flux. Students and faculty come and go, and their need to access certain information, not to mention physical campus locations such as dormitories and labs, is fluid.

As a result, the university setting causes big headaches for chief information officers and other technology professionals who are charged with securing the data that reside on a university’s computer systems—everything from proprietary research to students’ financial and personal data.…Read More

Microsoft calls for cloud-computing regulations

One-third of Americans surveyed say they store their photos on remote servers.
One-third of Americans surveyed say they store their photos on remote servers.

A Microsoft official argued Jan. 20 that the U.S. Congress should create rules and regulations for cloud computing, a burgeoning technology that has gained traction among schools and colleges.

As a growing number of businesses, governments, and universities store sensitive data on off-site servers managed by third parties, lawmakers should draft legislation that would protect the integrity of this information, said Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft Corp. and keynote speaker in a meeting of technology experts at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

More than three-quarters of Americans are unfamiliar with cloud computing, according to a Microsoft survey completed this month, but Smith said using the internet to store reams of data cheaply soon will spread through every sector of society.…Read More