Nowadays, it is becoming more economical for schools to adopt cloud computing and storage solutions. With cloud services, schools are able to enjoy flexibility usually associated with it. They can also enjoy better value for their money and enhanced functionality through the cloud.
However, as the education sector adapts to cloud data and online learning platforms, it is becoming more exposed to the risks of digital security. This must be tackled with innovative techniques and comprehensive solutions.
Understanding cloud data security
Before we talk about cloud data security, we must first understand how cloud data works. If you do not know already, data that are stored and transferred through the cloud, or over the internet, is almost always encrypted. This means that hackers, should they be able to get access to stored data, still have to decrypt it before they can even make sense of this information.
In addition, encrypted data requires keys to be decrypted, and cloud data providers basically have two ways to keep this key secure. Most cloud data security providers keep the key within their system, making it possible for them to process your data on their storage whenever you access their platform to search through your files. On the other hand, there are some providers that let users themselves have the keys to themselves. This allows for a safer cloud storage but may sacrifice on some functionality. When choosing a cloud data security provider, you should look into how they keep your data safe and see how much functionality you can compromise on security.
Rising data breach in the educational sector
However, despite these measures, people are getting more and more creative in circumventing these security measures. Unfortunately, since schools are known to have access to a large amount of private information, data breaches among educational institutions are becoming more common.
In fact, as of 2014, data breaches in the educational sector has become one of the most common, just behind healthcare and retail industries. Data breach in universities is also up by 103% in 2017, making it all the more important for schools to secure the data they have access to.
A treasure-trove ripe for picking
It is almost impossible nowadays to operate a business or organization without using technologies that collect data. And since universities and schools cannot just stop gathering information of their personnel and students, making the need for cloud data and network security becomes more apparent.
But, why exactly are schools being targeted for? For instance, their networks normally have a gargantuan amount of information about their students and staff, from basic details such as names, addresses, birth dates, and age, and even Social Security numbers and health records. Moreover, databases of schools and educational institutions are usually connected with other government institutions, providing hackers with an easily penetrable backdoor channel to government databases – which is exactly why educational institutions are becoming targets of such attacks.
As more schools aim to equip their educators with big data to help tweak their methods to adapt based on their students’ learning, educational institutions are gathering an increasing amount of data from their students. Aside from personal data, key pieces of information such as performance indicators and attendance trends being collected through learning management platforms may also require protection.
A walk-though of how big data is helping educators teach better.
(Image from Data Quality Campaign)
Protecting school cloud data
Making sure that student data are safe from prying eyes is not just the responsibility of school administrators. The government has an integral role to play in keeping the educaion sector safe from hacking and data breach. As quoted from Data Quality Campaigns’ Roadmap to Safeguarding Student Data:
“Safeguarding student data is not just a technical project done by one person within the state education agency (SEA). It must be an integral part of the SEA’s purposeful, planned, and transparent efforts to use data in support of student learning.”
In addition, just as in any industry, teaching cyber security to key stakeholders and primary users should be a proactive effort. Choosing to use an organizational cloud storage involves the need to educate teachers, students, and school staff on basic data security measures such as identifying phishing emails and escalating other scams that could undermine an organizations’ data integrity.
Building trust among the community is integral to solidify improvements in student achievement. Application of new technologies and platforms for education cannot be fully leveraged when integrity and trust is compromised. With these certain risks, everyone should bring forward a responsible mindset that safeguards student data in order to effectively utilise revolutionary technologies in education.