Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Why Is Knowledge Safety So Necessary?

Why is data protection so important?

When implementing new technologies to collect sensitive data, the GDPR must identify and mitigate all risks that could lead to misuse of personal data. These evaluations are particularly necessary when dealing with particularly sensitive child data.

Failure to protect sensitive data can create serious financial and legal problems. It can also damage your reputation and question your ethics. Privacy is by no means a new topic for education providers, but they now have to deal with a whole host of new topics that are unique to the new way of learning online, usually with limited time and resources.

Save more data than before

One of the biggest privacy issues educational institutions face during the pandemic is the sheer volume of data they need to stay protected. When you move to remote learning, you save more data than ever before.

Unlike in the usual physical environment, online learning is unique in that all interactions between teachers and students, teachers and parents, and between students leave a digital trail and are stored for a certain period of time.

This introduces a whole new level of data protection problems and monitoring possibilities, which means more responsibility to ensure adequate data protection guidelines and to ensure that the collected data is not misused.

Cyber ​​attacks are a serious problem

Unfortunately, cyber attacks are far too common in the education sector. A 2017 VMware survey [1] suggests that every third university in the UK is hit by a cyber attack every hour and 87% of respondents say they have experienced at least one successful cyber attack.

The K-12 Cyber ​​Incident Map, which tracks publicly disclosed cybersecurity incidents in U.S. K-12 public schools, reports that there have been over a thousand incidents in the past four years alone.

Unsurprisingly, the situation deteriorated even further during the pandemic. A current Emsisoft report [2] shows that the number of successful ransomware attacks in the education sector increased by 388% between Q2 and Q3 2020. These numbers show how often cybersecurity incidents can occur that can compromise sensitive data.

Recommended course of action

Risk assessment and data classification

Some of the first and most fundamental steps in a data protection plan are risk assessment and data classification. Before devising privacy strategies, it is important to understand what types of data you are collecting and how sensitive they are. As soon as you have an overview of all your data, you can classify it according to various sensitivity and protection requirements. This way, you can focus on providing the highest level of protection for your most sensitive data and avoiding legal or ethical problems that can result from inadequate data processing.

Retention Policy and Data Archiving

Another factor to consider when it comes to data protection is how long sensitive data is kept. For example, if all communications are online, you will need to keep email records for a period of time. According to FERPA requirements, email retention policies in the education sector should be at least 5 years.

The best way to ensure that your email policy is properly implemented is to get an email archiving solution. This allows you to keep track of all communications records and ensure that they are kept in a secure, tamper-proof repository long enough. You can also automate the retention of emails and choose to automatically delete emails after a certain period of time.

In addition, these solutions can also act as a surveillance system and help you keep track of the conversations by setting up keyword triggers that can help you prevent undesirable behaviors such as bullying and harassment.

Choosing the right platform

While some education providers use special learning platforms, others have chosen widely used communication software to get in touch with their students. However, this is not a good option as these platforms do not provide adequate protection and can leave your students’ sensitive data vulnerable.

No matter how sophisticated the platform you use, it contains a significant amount of sensitive data, from messages between teachers and students, to parent communication, to audio and video recordings of the classes.

For this reason, it is important to choose an online learning platform with appropriate security measures to protect your sensitive data. Unfortunately, platforms that offer functions for virtual conferencing, but are not specifically designed for the education sector, lack data protection standards for children. Therefore, opting for dedicated, private virtual software is a far better option.

Be transparent and keep everyone in the loop

Education providers usually already have a data protection policy that covers normal data processing. You should include a section that clearly defines what personal information is collected through online learning platforms and explains what you will use it for, where it is stored and how long you will keep it.

In order to legally collect personal data, you must obtain consent. However, don’t forget that if your privacy policy changes, the consent should also be updated. Being transparent and keeping all employees and parents informed of your privacy policies is not only a legal requirement and good ethical practice, but it can also help you avoid cybersecurity threats.

In fact, human error is a leading cause of data breaches. According to Impact [3]41% of higher education violations were caused by social engineering attacks, and 30% of users in the education industry fell for phishing emails. By educating your employees about these threats and teaching them how to properly comply with your privacy policy, you can protect sensitive data much more effectively.

A strict privacy policy is no longer a matter of course, it is a necessity. This is especially true of children’s data and will be more difficult than ever as learning has almost completely shifted to the digital world. Don’t underestimate the importance of privacy, and follow these tips to make sure your privacy policy meets the requirements.


[1] Privacy and Cybersecurity in Education: An Ongoing Struggle

[2] Ransomware spikes in the education sector in Q3 as attackers patiently wait for the school year to start

[3] 10 Cybersecurity In Education Statistics You Should Know About

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