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Emerging Issue Paper 1: Inflating Universities Ride on Frail Defenses

by on January 19, 2010

Recently universities’ security problem has gathered several attentions, because it has several practical and expedient reasons for investigation. Colleges and universities are the marketplaces of personal information, obtained from students, employees and general public. Universities process large amounts of information that includes Social Security Numbers (SSN), bank account statements, loans, medical records, credit information of the students. Additionally, general information about employees and research work, library access information and admission records are also maintained. The intention of this paper is to highlight concern over lax of core security at the places like universities where a reasonable amount of critical information is stored. This information is very sensitive and offer high susceptibility to identity theft. Sometimes, as universities seek to go beyond its local thresholds and seek global e-learning initiatives, management opens up its network boundary to foster its academic development objective. The data-server farms therefore constantly expand to support online courses, e-mail, the university’s website, and other needs. In their pursuit of accommodating these open and growing e-learning demands, universities often fail to secure its information assets from unauthorized access, often leading to several security breaches. With 50 percent of all reported security breaches having occurred at colleges and universities, it’s becoming more prevalent that university education’s culture of free exchange of ideas negotiates important security issues. Student records like SSNs remain permanent and hence theft of such critical information may cause irreparable damage. This paper recommends management to include security as an important part of the mission and vision for the IT department. Information Security could not afford to be left as a last part of the design process in their pursuit of building a robust university structure.

-Nishant Sharad Satanekar.

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