Protect Sensitive PII and Critical National Data
While Complying With Regulations

Higher education institutions are at the crossroads of numerous regulatory obligations while handling vast volumes of sensitive data, including student records, proprietary research, fiscal budgets, and details of endowment funds. These institutions must ensure the protection not only of student data but also of faculty and staff information. The risk of noncompliance and potential for data breaches pose significant challenges, as they often resort to outdated, insecure methods. This vulnerability is further magnified by the need to adhere to a diverse array of regulations like FERPA, HIPAA, and GDPR, among others. There is also an increased need for secure communication with third parties, including research partners, funding bodies, and governmental agencies. Sharing sensitive student records and proprietary research information with these external entities adds to the complexity of maintaining data security and regulatory compliance.

With the Kiteworks Private Content Network, these challenges are turned into opportunities for robust, secure data sharing and collaboration. Kiteworks eliminates the use of insecure data transmission channels, providing a secure conduit for the exchange of sensitive information over email, file sharing, managed file transfer, and web forms. The platform enables universities to strike a balance between easy-to-use functionality and high-grade security measures while adhering to the highest standards of data protection and compliance.

Frequently Asked Questions

FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It is a federal law in the United States that protects the privacy of students’ education records. FERPA applies to all educational institutions that receive federal funding, including K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. The law gives students and their parents certain rights with respect to their education records, including the right to access, review, and request corrections to those records. FERPA also regulates the disclosure of students’ education records and requires educational institutions to obtain written consent before releasing such records to third parties, except in certain limited circumstances.

Colleges and universities store a variety of sensitive information, like student records (which includes personally identifiable information like names, addresses, and Social Security numbers), financial information (such as banking, loan, and credit card information), and research data (which may include confidential or proprietary information). This information is valuable to attackers because it can be sold on the dark web or used to commit identity theft.

Colleges and universities use a variety of security measures to protect sensitive information from cyberattacks, including firewalls, intrusion detection, identity access management, and encryption. They also implement security awareness training for staff and students and regularly update their software and systems to patch any vulnerabilities.

Students and staff should be vigilant about their online activity and take steps to protect their personal information. This includes using strong passwords, avoiding public Wi-Fi networks, and being cautious about clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. They should also ensure that their devices, like smartphones and laptops, are up to date with the latest security patches and antivirus software.

In the event of a data breach, colleges and universities should take immediate steps to contain the breach and mitigate any damage. This may include notifying affected individuals and law enforcement, conducting a thorough investigation to determine the scope of the breach, and implementing additional security measures to prevent future breaches.

Colleges and universities can balance the need for security with the free flow of information by implementing security measures that are effective without being overly restrictive. This may include providing secure channels for the exchange of sensitive information, using access controls to limit who has access to certain data, and implementing policies and procedures that promote responsible information sharing. It is also important to involve faculty, staff, and students in the development of security policies and procedures to ensure that they are effective and practical.



Hobart & William Smith Colleges
The University of Vermont
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