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Experts Explain How Students Can Protect Data

As Fall semester approaches, higher education institutions will be exposed to further risk as an influx of new student PCs and laptops make their way onto campuses nationwide.

Such risk has already been illustrated by the recent news from Yale University that 10,200 staff and student social security numbers were onboard two stolen Yale computers.

An increase in new computers on campus means an increased risk of data compromise and personal information theft.

"In many institutional settings, especially educational institutions, there is real danger of losing control over personal information," said Adam Dodge, founder of Educational Security Incidents, a web site that tracks higher ed security breaches, in a prepared statement. "Information such as grades, social security numbers, or even a mother's maiden name can be found on most personal computers. This creates the possibility that a college student might suffer identity theft five, 10, 20, or even 30 years after the initial theft of their information."

Dodge advised that students make protecting their information their personal responsibility. To that end, data recovery software and service provider CBL Data Recovery Technologies offers campuses some top tips for protecting personal data:
  • Students attending school with a computer that's already been used at home or at work should ensure the hard drives are scrubbed clean of critical information. A Data Shredder Tool is available for free from  CBL's Web site to remove that data.
  • Students should protect their computers just like their keys or wallet and should invest in a security cable to lock down PCs and laptops that come with security cable slots.
  • The best way to keep a laptop from getting lifted is to keep it out of sight. Students should keep laptops in nondescript bags, as well.
  • Students should install software for tracking, locating and recovering stolen computers.
  • Students should ensure they have set their boot and login passwords and if they are in the market for a new computer, they might want to opt for a laptop with biometric-based security.
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About the Author

David Kopf is a freelance technology writer and marketing consultant, and can be reached at [email protected].

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