Defending data

Geraldine Osman, VP of International Marketing at Connected Data, lists the four things school leaders can do to ensure data privacy

Today’s pupils are using all kinds of new devices to create digital files, and classwork has stretched beyond the simple notepad or poster board into the ether. If UK schools follow the trends started in consumer IT and picked up by the enterprise, then BYOD (bring your own device) will continue to grow in the education space. 

So, how can schools utilise the advances in technology whilst also protecting their highly sensitive data? Here are the top four things school leaders should do to ensure data privacy:

1. Go Private
As paper file systems are becoming cumbersome and out-dated, cloud storage might seem an attractive option, but if you use a public cloud service your data is never 100% secure. For maximum security school leaders should be opting for a private cloud solution to regain control of school data. 

With a private cloud solution you own the server where your data is stored giving the IT department complete visibility and control over privacy and location. Data is only ever stored on the appliance and only the users you authorise can access it. No other party can access your data or even its associated meta-data. This delivers the highest level of security.

2. Control Location
Are there internal regulations that state where your data should be stored? If so, do you know where your data is stored? If it’s in the public cloud, the chances are that the answer to this is no. 

Public cloud file providers struggle to meet data protection compliance in many countries, as the exact location of data is undefined. Not only does this increase the risk of unauthorised access or information loss, it can breach industry and government regulations. When you store data on devices owned by you then you know where the data resides. This ensures you meet any regulations of data locality. 

3. Ensure you have the keys
The encryption keys that is. While public cloud providers may employ encryption technology, it’s meaningless if they have access to the private encryption keys. Box, Dropbox and many other public cloud storage companies hold the private encryption keys for your data meaning they can access it at any time. On a private cloud device, your data is not stored in the cloud, the private encryption keys are generated and stored directly onto the appliance. This means the data is directly under your control and nobody else has any access to your files. 

4. Leverage existing infrastructure
On the administration side, schools increasingly face the challenges of ever-tightening budgets, limited resources and personnel. They need to make legacy IT equipment work within the current technology landscape to ensure both students and faculty have constant access to data. 

Choosing an appliance designed to leverage your existing infrastructure, puts you back in total control of your data. Appliances you own and deploy can be placed in secure locations that you choose giving you 100% control over where your data is stored. Data is automatically synced across devices allowing you to control the level of redundancy to ensure continued operations in any situation. 

Additionally, the convenience of public cloud comes at a price, once you hit the maximum storage allowance, the costs can really add up.

Every year schools and universities are changing. As technology advances so too does our way of working and learning. By remembering to choose a private cloud solution, control data location, keep your encryptions keys and leverage existing infrastructure you can keep data secure and data management in budget. This means that students can work in a way that is collaborative and productive but with security as the top priority; a lesson in data management that is well worth learning.


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