The BC Ministry of Education has recently announced that an unencrypted hard drive containing 3.4 million of student records from 1986 to 2009 has been misplaced. These records have sensitive information, such as health and behavior issues, birth dates, citizenship status, and GPAs. More information about this loss can be found on the BC Government website: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2015MTICS0026-001575. Incidents such as this can happen to any organization including UBC. The implications of losing such sensitive data can lead to undue stress, financial risk, and loss of invaluable data from years of research. This is a reminder for all of us to take a closer look at how we handle data and ensure we are following UBC policy on the protection of personal data.
Below are the policies and standards that UBC has in place regarding data storage:
- UBC’s Policy #104, Acceptable Use and Security of UBC Electronic Information and Systems sets forth standards that are intended to reduce information security risks, especially in relation to personal information. A major privacy breach would likely have a significant financial, reputational and legal impact on the university and could cause a major setback to individual or group research agendas or to teaching objectives. (http://www.universitycounsel.ubc.ca/files/2013/06/policy104.pdf)
- Information Security Standard #05 – Encryption Requirements provides an overview of the importance of encryption and the proper methods of encrypting a device. Encryption helps prevent unauthorized access to data, such as Personal Information (PI) and mitigates risks associated with physical loss or theft. (http://cio.ubc.ca/sites/cio.ubc.ca/files/documents/standards/Std%2005%20Encryption%20Requirements.pdf)
In addition, for staff and faculty that require encryption for a device, McAfee Drive encryption is available and provided at no cost for the protection of UBC confidential data stored on UBC-owned hardware. (https://it.ubc.ca/services/security/encryption-services)
For questions or concerns about encryption or protecting your information assets, please contact UBC IT Help Desk (www.it.ubc.ca/helpdesk) or your department/faculty’s IT Help Desk.
* CC image courtesy of UBC Public Affairs on Flickr.