Future of Data Privacy for Educational Institutions
Educational institutions face unique challenges when it comes to protecting their IT data. Fortunately, there are protective measures that can help.
17:20 17 October 2020
Chances are if you are an IT leader at an educational institution, you are already aware of the specific threats imposed by ransomware attacks and other security issues that expose back end data privacy vulnerabilities. Educational institutions face specific and unique challenges when it comes to protecting their IT data due to a combination of outdated computer equipment, an overworked or understaffed team, and weak security protocols. Fortunately, there are a few measures in this Covve Security Series article that can be taken to help ensure the safety of this data.
As one piece of our commitment to security, Covve maintains a keen focus on how businesses can protect their data from security breaches and how to respond to privacy threats.
As the threat landscape continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, best practice is to continuously monitor the security you have in place. Furthermore, looking ahead to what sort of technologies are on the horizon will help ensure that you stay one step ahead of the opposition.
New vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered and it is crucial that the IT data remain segregated from networks that can be accessed by third party unmanaged end-point devices like cell phones, laptops, and others. Once the data has been isolated from these sources of potential risk, the infrastructure needs to be reinforced by a unified threat management system, or UTM. Keeping your UTM systems up to date is vital to avoiding cyberattacks, which are becoming more and more frequent and sophisticated every day threatening data privacy.
In today's ever changing threat environment, many organizations have implemented cloud based infrastructures. This can be potentially dangerous for security since cloud accounts are being targeted more frequently. Hackers can exploit cloud credentials allowing them to access your entire cloud environment. There are several types of threats for the cloud such as insecure APIs, unprotected databases and account hijacking.
This problem highlights the need for tools that enable users to take back control of their data, thus eliminating the burden of educational institutions needing to keep that data protected. So long as sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) is stored in highly vulnerable centralized repositories (like cloud infrastructure), these data privacy breaches will continue unabated.
What's On The Horizon?
We see public-key cryptography and trusted third party data attesters as the next wave for both consumers and institutions to securely store and share data without the exposure risk of centralized storage and aggregation.
Digital identity systems are being developed so only the user holds their private key, which is securely stored locally. This key is used to gain access to their identity and data. Only you hold your private keys to your encrypted personal information. The requesting user is able to securely verify your personal information, such as name, phone number, email address, and social media profiles, as well financial information, such as utility bill payments, income, assets, and bank statements, through trusted data attesters.
When verifying information, the end user chooses only the data that they want to include. Because the user owns their data (which is protected by the latest in digital security protocols) the risk of your data being accessed by hackers or stolen in a data breach is greatly reduced. This provides the peace of mind that personal information is safe. In short, if the user can securely hold and transmit their sensitive data, this effectively eliminates the need for storage of personal information, and thus greatly reduces the risk of that information getting stolen from institutions as they no longer have any personal data they need to store.
New technology is under development and advances in the ecosystem are coming soon. Massive corporations such as Microsoft to IBM have raced to build products, promising to build the identity platform of the future. Agile, tech-savvy startups have made significant technological breakthroughs in identity management. This has contributed to rapid market inroads by developing tools that empower consumers to take back control of their information for data privacy.
Some of the top security leaders in the industry have shifted to focusing on Digital Resilience rather than trying to achieve perfect protection. While it's not possible to stop every threat, it is possible to be prepared, thinking ahead about how you will withstand and recover from the next security breach. It is critical for IT leaders to stay ahead of the game and as up to date about their whole system as possible. With this method, recovering from any amount of damage is no trouble.
It is essential for schools to plan for these types of disruptions to data privacy, and a smart way to start is by mapping out the school's network of resources and understanding its dependencies. As advancements in personal digital identity systems are rapidly approaching, eventually we will have greater security by means of reduced risk. After all, the vault is much more secure if the thieves know there is nothing inside to steal.