Top 5 security methods all universities should take

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Implementing robust security measures in schools protects both students and staff. 

The modern digital era we live in means that universities are entrusted with vast amounts of sensitive data. This ranges from student records to research findings. There are over 2 million higher education students in the UK and over 200,000 staff members. This is a huge responsibility - protecting data, students, and staff from any potential threats.

    In this article, we'll outline ten essential security considerations to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data. Including effective communication, access control, and risk assessments.

      1. Know your data

      The very first step is understanding your university's data. 

      Keep an inventory of data and track its usage. This could include intellectual property, student information, and employee data. Consider developing a comprehensive and proactive plan to protect each data category by identifying the kind of data you're working with. Knowing the 

      criticality and sensitivity of each type of data will help your university to prioritise the best security measures.

      Having this knowledge enables your university to allocate resources efficiently and implement targeted safeguards.

        2. Categorise and store data safely

        Categorising and storing university data safely is paramount to ensuring its security and integrity.

        Universities typically deal with various types of data. This ranges from public information - such as general announcements and academic calendars, to highly sensitive data, including student records, financial information, and research data. 

        Sensitive data may require encryption, access controls, and regular monitoring to prevent unauthorised access or data breaches.

        Categorising data ensures proper data retention and disposal practices. Universities can establish data retention policies based on the categorisation of data, defining retention periods and disposal methods for each category. This helps prevent the accumulation of unnecessary data and reduces the risk of data breaches or compliance violations.

        By categorising data into distinct types based on its sensitivity and confidentiality level, you can correctly prioritise the data. 

          3. Train staff and students

          Comprehensive training programs exist to educate both staff and users about best practices for data security. 

          Universities should conduct regular training sessions for faculty, administrators, and other employees who have access to sensitive data. These sessions should cover topics such as data handling procedures, password security, phishing awareness, and incident response protocols. By equipping staff with the knowledge and skills to identify and respond to security threats, universities can strengthen their overall security posture

          It's important to know that awareness is the first line of defence against common threats such as phishing attacks and social engineering tactics.

          By empowering staff and students with the knowledge to identify suspicious emails, links, or requests for sensitive information, universities can reduce the likelihood of falling victim to cyberattacks. Training programs should emphasise the importance of exercising caution when sharing personal or confidential information online and encourage users to report any suspicious activity or security incidents promptly.

          5. Carry out regular security audits and assessments

          Your university should conduct routine audits and assessments to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in existing security measures.

          By being proactive with both monitoring and analysis, you can stay one step ahead of potential threats. Security audits involve a comprehensive review of your university's IT infrastructure, systems, and processes to identify weaknesses and gaps in security. This may include assessing network configurations, access controls, encryption protocols, and software patching procedures. By conducting regular assessments, universities can identify and remediate security vulnerabilities in a timely manner, reducing the risk of data breaches and other security incidents.

          What else can you do to safeguard your university?

          Other quick tips include:

          Safeguard with encryption protocols: encryption renders data unreadable to unauthorised parties, providing an additional layer of protection against data breaches.

          Create an incident response plan: to develop a comprehensive incident response plan, you need robust processes for detecting, assessing, and mitigating security incidents. Rapid response is crucial to minimising the impact of data breaches and restoring normal operations.

          Secure network infrastructure: Secure your university network infrastructure with firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and other advanced security mechanisms. Segmenting networks and implementing virtual private networks (VPNs) also helps to prevent unauthorised access.

          How can BTT Comms support your university?

          Data breaches are an all-too-common occurrence. Trust, reputation, and compliance are key factors for universities to succeed.

          BTT Comms can support your university with your security needs. Get in touch to speak with our security team today. 

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