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How to Ensure Data Security

by market trends November 30, 2022

Education collects sensitive data from thousands of students and employees and is one of the industries most vulnerable to data breaches. With limited budgets and cybersecurity know-how, schools are easy targets for cybercriminals and particularly susceptible to employee carelessness. However, due to increasingly strict regulations, data protection is also mandatory in education, in order to protect the personal data of students and employees.

Human error is responsible for 26% of all data breaches in education. An email with personal student information accidentally sent to the wrong person or to all persons in an email thread is already a violation. Hackers can also easily access school networks through university library computers and infect them using malware-riddled USBs.

To ensure data protection compliance and security, educational institutions should ensure that basic cybersecurity measures such as anti-virus solutions and firewalls are in place. However, to prevent data breaches and address employee carelessness, educational institutions need to go a step further and look to Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions.

Manage and monitor sensitive data directly

DLP solutions have become a critical part of educational institutions’ data protection efforts. They enable educational institutions to monitor and manage the sensitive data they collect through predefined personal information policies.

Using contextual scanning and content inspection, DLP solutions can identify sensitive data in more than 100 file types and block its transmission through insecure channels such as popular messaging apps, file sharing services, or personal emails. DLP tools can also prevent sensitive data from being copied and pasted or printed. All attempts to violate DLP policies are logged and reported, enabling educational institutions to identify poor data protection practices or common unauthorized data egress channels.

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Control removable devices

As mentioned earlier, cyber criminals can use USBs as infection tools and as a way to bypass login screens and gain access to a computer. However, the infection can also happen unintentionally when a student connects a USB to a school computer, unaware that their device is infected. When sensitive data is copied to a USB, it also becomes vulnerable to loss, as USBs are notoriously easy to lose or forget.

DLP solutions come with device control policies that allow educational institutions to restrict or block the use of portable devices. The use of USBs can thus be restricted to trusted devices such as school-issued USBs, and any transfer of sensitive data to removable devices can be flagged, giving educational institutions a clear understanding of who has attempted to transfer sensitive data, when and with which device.

Protect sensitive data on all operating systems

Students and staff often use their personal devices to connect to school networks. These devices run on a variety of operating systems, not just Windows, and often include macOS and various Linux distributions. To ensure continuous data protection, educational institutions should consider cross-platform cybersecurity solutions that can be managed from a single interface.

Such centrally managed solutions offer two major advantages. They reduce costs because a single solution replaces several specialized tools for different operating systems. They also simplify data protection management when IT staff is limited. Often one person is enough to manage them. However, educational institutions that choose to go the cross-platform route must ensure that the solutions they choose provide the same features across all operating systems and are not limited to other operating systems beyond the primary operating system for which they were originally designed.

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Author:

Filip Cotfas, Channel Manager, CoSoSys

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