Data management continues to be an issue in the education sector. The recent flurry of information breaches highlights the lack of adequate information security practices at U.S. colleges and universities. Besides the sheer number of records potentially compromised, the leaks brought to light the dearth of IT infrastructure and governance policies capable of coping with the realities of today's cyberthreat landscape. As long as these institutions adhere to outdated IT security policies and questionable data management practices, they will be increasingly attractive targets to cyber espionage agents. IT-as-a-service can offer universities and colleges advanced IT support.
The recent university data breaches include:
- A University of Maryland leak that exposed Social Security numbers, among other personal information, of more than 300,000 records. Some of these had been kept in a poorly maintained system since 1998, The New York Times reported.
- Another recent leak compromised the information for 146,000 students and recent graduates at Indiana University, according to the Chicago Tribune. In following up on the breach, it was discovered that the data had been stored in an insecure server for 11 months.
- Employee tax return problems at the University of Northern Iowa may be related to a compromised database, according to the Omaha World Herald.
Several unique issues contribute to poor data management at higher education institutions, including budgetary restrictions, work-study students with little experience serving as ad hoc IT support and sprawling networks with high user turnover. Migrating data storage, information security and other strategic IT planning demands to an ITaaS solution makes sense for universities and colleges that need to upgrade their IT support on a massive scale. ITaaS providers offer real-time data security, establish more stringent access and user protocols, and customize IT strategies to respond directly to the institution's most pressing needs.
"Universities are a focus in today's global assaults on I.T. systems," said Wallace Loh, University of Maryland president in a statement following the breach. "Obviously, we need to do more and better, and we will."