University Data Breach

Posted by Stefanie Kober Fri, 24 Jan 2014 07:23:00 GMT

Data breaches are easily becoming an inevitable and alarming part of life. In addition to the IT headaches, reputational risk and customer churn associated with a breach, the monetary costs are also a huge concern. Furthermore, it is important to take note that not all data breaches are caused by malicious hackers, but rather the lack of careful practices from enterprise staff.

For example, last year National American University (NAU) in Rapid City, South Dakota relocated campuses and failed to properly dispose of documents containing sensitive student information. Instead of shredding the documents, movers loaded boxes of papers into a dumpster during the university’s relocation. The files contained student financial information, full names, Social Security Numbers as well as addresses—just enough information for identify theft.

While the university is still getting to the bottom of the situation, they may be at risk for violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This law helps ensure that educational institutions that receive government funding properly dispose sensitive information. If it is confirmed that NAU failed to comply with FERPA, the Department of Education may initiate disciplinary actions including termination of NAU’s receipt of further federal funds.

It is an alarming feeling to be notified that your information has been exposed at the fault of a university, health center or business. What is even more alarming is that there is not much you can do prevent it as it is up to the business to protect their data. Fortunately, businesses are happy to help compensate victims and help prevent fraud with free credit monitoring. However, the obligation to compensate victims severely dents a business’ budget and often results in closure.

One way that universities and businesses can prevent a breach similar to the NAU breach is to keep their student records digital and all communications of those sensitive data encrypted. To make this easier in daily usage and provide advanced security, HOBLink Secure offers an easy to use suite of security features that help organization realizing complete encryption of communication. It can can be used in combination with multiple HOB solutions.

Have you had information stolen as a result of a breach? What were the costs to you or your business? What additional preventative measures should companies take to reduce the risk of breaches and the resulting cost?

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