4 Things Educational Institutions Need to Consider When Using Secure File Transfer 

4 Things Educational Institutions Need to Consider When Using Secure File Transfer

Secure file transfer is essential in the education sector if the sector is to remain competitive, effective, and protect sensitive content. With the rise of the digital era, managing and transferring files has been made easier, more convenient, and cost-effective. However, with this have come risks, as the storage and transfer of confidential files must be secure and reliable. This blog post explores the importance of secure file transfer for education, the potential risks of not using such a system, and the solutions offered in order to protect and manage sensitive content.

What Is Secure File Transfer?

Secure file transfer is a process of securely exchanging digital content between two or more systems, while adhering to data security regulations and standards. It is the process of securely transmitting a file from one system to another, ensuring the integrity of the content is maintained. The content is protected from alteration, interception, and malicious attacks, allowing for secure and efficient transmission of content and files between systems.

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Potential Risks of Not Using Secure File Transfer

The potential risks of not using secure file transfer include data loss, legal ramifications, and decreased trust in the educational institution. Data loss can occur if data is exposed, hacked, and misused. Not only does this result in the loss of sensitive content, but the loss of time trying to rebuild the content and the potential financial losses that this may incur. Legal ramifications can be a result of inappropriate use of the content and can lead to fines, lawsuits, and civil action against the institution. Decreased trust in the institution is also a risk, as it may lead to a decrease in students, faculty, and donors, as well as a decline in public perception.

Why Secure File Transfer in Education Is Critical

Secure file transfer is essential in the education sector if the sector is to remain competitive, effective, and protect sensitive content. As digital technologies have improved, the sector has needed to quickly adapt to embrace the new digital tools being used and the increased reliance on electronic devices and the internet in order to remain competitive. Documents such as student records, assessment results, and financial statements must be transferred securely in order to protect the content, both from an internal and external perspective. Without secure file transfer, there is a risk of these documents being exposed, hacked, and misused, resulting in data loss, legal ramifications, and decreased trust in the institution.

For educational institutions relying on file transfer, the following things are critical for them to understand:

1. Types of Files That Need Secure Transfer

Educational institutions handle large amounts of sensitive information and require secure transfer for protection against malicious attacks. This information includes personally identifiable information (PII), student records, personnel information, academic transcripts, digital certificates, student-teacher communications, email archives, and digital assets. Financial data, such as payroll, invoices, and financial statement details, must also be transferred securely. Additionally, software applications, digital curriculums, and course-related materials must be securely transmitted. Furthermore, digital media, including multimedia applications, audio and video files, and streaming media, must also be sent through secure file transfer.

Secure transfer also applies to automated data, such as automation scripts, databases, and analytics results. It is also important to securely send research data such as experimental trials, reports, and survey responses. Finally, any confidential materials, such as policy documents, employee agreements, and session notes, should be transferred with a secure transfer solution. All institutions dealing with sensitive information must have well-defined procedures for securely transferring data. Secure file transfer solutions provide the necessary assurance that the transferred data is received safe, unaltered, and in accordance with compliance requirements.

2. Protocols Used in Secure File Transfer

Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is the de facto industry standard for secure transmission of data. SFTP is a protocol built on top of the Secure Shell (SSH) Protocol, which provides an encrypted tunnel for data transmission. Additionally, File Transfer Protocol Secure (FTPS) is a popular protocol for secure file transfer, which leverages both encrypted data channels and an authentication process. Both SFTP and FTPS are considered secure protocols, and are commonly used in secure file transfer implementations.

To further protect data, secure file transfer protocols employ end-to-end encryption, which ensures the data is secure even if it is intercepted. Additionally, digital signatures can be used to verify the authenticity and integrity of the data. The use of digital signatures is especially important for sensitive data, as it prevents malicious actors from tampering with the data without detection.

In addition to these protocols, organizations often employ additional security measures, such as password-protected files and data encryption, to protect their data in transit. However, the use of these measures is often dependent on the requirements of the organization and the protocols used.

Secure file transfer is a critical element of any data security solution and is necessary for protecting sensitive data in today’s digital era. By understanding the protocols used for secure file transfer and employing additional security measures, organizations can ensure their data is protected.

3. Risks of Transferring Unsecured Files in Education

The risks associated with transferring unsecured files in education are numerous. Malicious actors could gain access to private information, such as student and employee records, academic and financial records, or confidential research data. These files could then be copied, modified, or used for malicious purposes. Unauthorized access to the system could also result in data corruption or other malicious activities. Furthermore, unauthorized access could provide an attacker with the ability to manipulate sensitive files or even launch a denial-of-service attack, disrupting the educational institution’s operations.

Additionally, when transferring unsecured files, such as documents or multimedia material, there is a risk of data leakage. This can occur when the files are sent via unsecured channels such as email or internet, or when the data is stored on an insecure device. Such data leakage could have serious consequences, leading to the disclosure of sensitive or confidential information. Furthermore, unsecured files could be easily misused or stolen, leading to further security risks.

Transferring unsecured files in education can lead to copyright infringement. In the event that the sender or receiver of the files is not authorized to use the material, the educational institution could be held liable. Even if the sender or receiver claims to have a valid license for the material, the institution could still be held liable for damages resulting from copyright infringement.

 

4. Regulatory Requirements for Secure File Transfer in Education

Secure file transfer is an essential component of data security. Educational institutions must comply with data privacy regulations, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which stipulate certain security protocols, as well as fines and penalties to protect the secure transfer of sensitive data. Secure file transfer solutions provide a secure way to transfer files and comply with regulatory requirements.

Secure file transfer solutions should provide encryption, authentication, and data loss prevention protocols for protection of data in transit. Encryption should include both encryption of data in motion, such as TLS/SSL, and encryption at rest that uses AES-256. Users should be authenticated with methods such as password policy and multi-factor authentication. Data loss prevention protocols should include tamper-proof security features, such as digital signatures, to ensure that data is transferred securely and remains intact. It should also provide data masking, an important feature for protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access. The file transfer solution should also provide logging and auditing capabilities to monitor and report on transfers. File transfer protocol should provide user access control and permission-based access control so that organizations can control who can access a transmitted file.

In addition to the technical requirements, organizations should develop policies and procedures for secure file transfer. These should include requirements for user authentication and authorization, secure transmission protocols, data retention and destruction policies, and incident reporting procedures. It is also important for organizations to provide user training to ensure that all staff understand proper procedures for secure file transfer. Adhering to these regulatory requirements for secure file transfer is essential for educational organizations to ensure the protection of their sensitive data.

Compliant and Secure File Transfer for Education With Kiteworks

The Kiteworks Private Content Network includes a comprehensive secure file transfer capability, which delivers advanced SFTP and managed file transfer. These functionalities ensure that educational institutions can transmit and share data securely, efficiently, and reliably. Through its integration with various cybersecurity standards and data privacy regulations, Kiteworks enables institutions to meet their legal and ethical obligations for securing sensitive information.

Kiteworks enables educational institutions to demonstrate compliance to data privacy regulations such as HIPAA, the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act, and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This enables them to share files securely while maintaining compliance with legal requirements.

Kiteworks’ hardened virtual appliance is a crucial element of its secure file transfer capabilities. This dedicated virtual environment protects sensitive data from threats both within and outside the institution. It employs multiple layers of security, including encryption, multi-factor authentication, and robust access controls, to prevent unauthorized access and data breaches. The hardened virtual appliance seamlessly integrates with existing IT infrastructure and offers centralized management capabilities, making it easy for administrators to monitor and control data transfers.

Kiteworks also enables educational institutions to establish strong governance practices through its tracking and controls for sensitive content shares and sends. This feature allows administrators to create and enforce policies on data sharing, ensuring that only authorized users have access to the information they need. In addition, Kiteworks offers real-time visibility into file transfer activities, enabling institutions to detect potential risks and respond promptly to security incidents.

Kiteworks also supports collaboration among different stakeholders by providing secure channels for transferring files both within and outside the institution. Sensitive content types include student records, financial information, research data, and other confidential documents. In addition, the easy-to-use interface, combined with advanced security features, makes Kiteworks an ideal choice for educational institutions looking to enhance their digital operations.

To learn more about Kiteworks’ secure file transfer for educational institutions, schedule a custom demo of Kiteworks today.

Additional Resources

 

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