Higher Ed Data Breaches: How Formstack Can Protect Your University

Written by Laura Thrasher on February 26, 2014

Posted in Education

In the last week, two major universities have reported significant data breaches. On February 20, the University of Maryland was the target of a hacker attack that resulted in over 300,000 students, faculty, and staff members’ personal information being exposed, including social security numbers and birthdates. And on February 26, Indiana University reported that the names, social security numbers, and addresses of 146,000 current and former students had been compromised.

The breaches were different—UM’s was a deliberate, targeted attack, and IU’s was the result of automatic data-mining applications—but the outcomes are the same. Students, faculty, and staff’s information is now compromised, and the universities will need to do significant damage control. And unlike the Target or Neiman Marcus data breaches that only affected credit and debit card numbers, these incidents expose personal information that makes individuals much more vulnerable.

According to the Washington Post, these are not isolated cases. In 2010, an Ohio State University data breach compromised the names, social security numbers, and birthdates of 750,000 people. In 2013, the University of Virginia made a printing error that exposed social security numbers of 18,000 students. Clearly, data breaches are not only issues that businesses face.

If you work in higher ed and are concerned about the security of your institution’s data, you should be. When individuals submit information via online forms, for example, they trust you to manage and protect it appropriately. You need to be confident in the way your institution collects, stores, and manages personal information. Formstack is an easy-to-use online form builder that provides secure data storage and management.

Formstack offers several layers of protection for highly personal information, like social security or credit card numbers. The strongest option is data encryption, which ensures that sensitive information will be hack-proof when it is stored. In fact, no one—including Formstack—can view your data without the password. Data encryption keeps the information you collect under lock and key.

Another layer is 256-bit SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). This feature ensures that you have an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. And finally, we offer PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), which protects sensitive information that is emailed to you from a Formstack form. With these layers of security, you can protect the people who trust you with their information.

If you want to be confident in the security of your online forms, consider Formstack. Our highest priority is protecting our customers and the data they collect. To learn more about Formstack and the ways we can protect your customers’ sensitive information, sign up for a free trial today.

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