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Educational institutions have a responsibility to keep staff and student information safe and secure. Here are nine tips on how to prevent identity theft in the schools.
1. Know What Identity Theft Is
If you don't understand what identity theft is or how it happens, you will be unequipped to recognize and handle potentially dangerous situations. Most identity theft is directed at employees rather than the students using low-tech methods. Educating staff about ‘social engineering' techniques should be a high priority. For example, an ID thief might call a district office asking for employee information for ‘verification' purposes. Create a process to handle these types of calls that will determine whether or not the request is legitimate.
2. Appoint an Information Security Officer
The person in charge of IT security should review the handling of all sensitive information – how it is handled, who has access, and where it is stored.
3. Conduct Ongoing Training
Distribute information about maintaining security to both staff and students using printed literature, e-mails and webinars or closed circuit television. And invite specialists to conduct in-school training sessions.
4. Be Specific with ID Theft Prevention Suggestions
Tell staff, particularly those working in areas that have a lot of personal information like human resources, exactly what to do. Advise them to always log off or turn off their computers whenever the leave their desk, and thoroughly brief them about online phishing schemes that try to extract personal information from unsuspecting victims.
5. Identify All Sources of Sensitive Information
While computers are the main source of stored information, put security measures in place for protecting information included on paper reports, filed in cabinets, and loaded onto laptops and PDAs.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|