Here's How to Safeguard Student Data

Education Technology Insights | Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Monitoring user activity, eliminating needless student records, and minimizing student data collection are a few ways to protect pupil information.

FREMONT, CA: Schools beginning from the pupil’s enrollment gather a range of sensitive information concerning the student and family. Regulations, laws, and ethical obligations need organization administrators to take preventive measures to safeguard the data from illicit revelation. The process warrants an arrangement of technical and process controls intended to facilitate lawful use of student records while protecting the documentation against intruders.

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Here are five ways schools can protect their pupil students:

Minimize Data Collection of Student Information

A vital step that schools can take to reduce the jeopardy of an unintended or malicious leak of sensitive pupil information is to lessen the amount of data collected in the first place. The practice of minimizing data collection in the field of data privacy is termed minimization. When schools cut down on gathering sensitive data elements, there is no danger to lose control of the information when a data breach occurs.

The minimization efforts in institutions can be carried out by eliminating the use of Social Security Numbers (SSNs). Many schools in the earlier times had begun the practice of collecting student and sometimes parent SSNs for identification purposes. While today, all schools have moved past the use of SSNs as a pupil identifier, but a few still ask for SSNs on the registration forms.

The risks linked with storing sensitive data are high with no apparent benefit. So, schools need to assess all of the data collection practices and get rid of any fields not necessary for a specific, legitimate business reason.

Eliminate Needless Student Records

In addition to reducing the data collected, organizations should also take actions to cleanse any vulnerable information when no longer made use for its chief purpose. Eliminating the old records serves the equivalent purpose as minimizing data collection—lowering the impact of a possible breach.

Schools furthermore should set consistent record preservation policies that state the time length of different categories of documentation that must be conserved. For instance, organizations can decide on maintaining the semester results of the students and purge out the records on disciplinary actions taken against them once they have completed their schooling or education. Alongside, there can be exceptions made for those pupils who have dropped out or an occurrence of any other unfavorable conditions.

A few retention periods might be short like the copy of a utility bill provided for residency proof in schools. Upon validation of the information and its approval from the school administrator, the copies can be eliminated because there won’t be any valid reason to maintain them.

Encrypt Information at Rest and in Transit

On carrying out the processes of elimination and minimizing the data collection, there might be a few reasons that organizations will still need to retain some data on the student and parent. So, the records need to be protected watchfully by making use of administrative and procedural management.

The vital power that institutes can apply to data is making use of robust encryption technology to secure the information that is:

• In rest; stored on a device or server.

• In transit; shared through a connection.

Schools also need to recognize smart devices that stock up sensitive data and apply encryption at the disk and file-level alike.

Monitor User Activity on School Networks

Lastly, schools need to monitor the movement of any user granted admission to sensitive data. The step does not entail detailed monitoring of the systems, but specific changes in the settings of the existing software are enough. Any data gathered through user monitoring can moreover help in identifying suspicious activity and also assist in tracking the source of disclosure of vulnerable information. For instance, any leaks in a notable student’s data record can be looked into by checking the access logs to find out who viewed the information.

On the whole, schools and its administrators need to implement extra watchfulness and discretion to guard pupils’ and families’ data from unauthorized uses. By employing some simple security practices, educational institutions will be successful in preserving the data, thereby keeping the public trust intact.

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