Data Protection Advice for Schools, Colleges and Universities

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Every day we’re told to take care of our information online, and it seems that talking about traditional and non-digital methods of data protection has gone out of fashion. Some of us forget that shredding paperwork prevents opportunities for the theft of sensitive information.

Schools, universities and colleges do not have the resources to spend on limiting the damage which results from data theft. It is much better that practices are put in place to prevent the time consuming and expensive consequences of inadequate data security practice.

When is my data at risk?

The first step to a secure system of any kind, is mapping its journey. Assuming you’re digitally secure, we’ve identified four opportunities for data security breaches.

  1. At the printer – uncollected print-outs are a huge waste of paper, ink and energy. These print-outs are also a great way for data thieves to access normally password protected information. Think before you print.
  2. From your desk – not all desk drawers can be locked. This leads to staff leaving notebooks and post-it notes lying around during the day, in the evenings, and at weekends – when others could access them.
  3. From your bin – waste paper baskets can be carried off and read through.
  4. From the outside – once waste has left the building very few people think of it again, but ‘data divers’ have been known to open and empty bins (especially paper recycling bins) and read through them at their leisure elsewhere.

What information are they looking for?

When dealing with confidential data on a daily basis, it can be easy to take document shredding for granted. While we know and understand that data security is crucial, sometimes it is possible to forget that the information we are reading is for ‘your eyes only’. Information such as pupil records and medical information, staff records, CVs and application forms, academic reports and assessments, and financial information.

Who needs to shred paperwork?

This vigilance when shredding paperwork is not just a task for Admin, HR or Student Services. It’s also for lecturers, teachers – and most crucially – students. For students who’ve been granted access to private information, or competitive programmes or internships, they may have access to other businesses’ private information. They may also wish to protect their research notes, essays and dissertation.

It is crucial that students respect privacy, and are given a life-long appreciation for data security. The easiest way to do this is to embed the practise of shredding paperwork into their daily life during study.

I have a small paper shredder – is that enough?

If you have a shredder in your office, and each member of staff has the time and energy to shred all sensitive information, then you’re well on your way to a having a thorough data security process. For many schools, universities and other large education establishments, the amount of paper and other sensitive information that needs shredding means it’s not feasible to rely on a small paper shredder. The time involved would make it impossible and it will also require a shredding service than can destroy data contained not just on paper. A shredder which can handle staples and paper clips is always preferable too.

Could I get someone to deal with this for me?

When you want to get rid of hundreds or thousands of documents, as information becomes out-of-date, or student records are no longer needed, a tidal wave of paper flows from filing cabinets and drawers, and needs to be disposed of before it gets out of hand. Shredding services are available, which will allow you to concentrate on the upcoming term, and not the hurricane of paper left from the previous year.

There are lots of different plans, which range from daily, weekly or monthly collections. If you contact Datashredders by calling 0808 223 8945 you can choose which service you require. Our friendly team can help you stay on top of data destruction with regular shredding and even provide extra services at crucial points throughout the academic year, such as the end of term. Data can be shredded on site or taken away. With a system like this, schools, universities and colleges can focus on encouraging learning and generating ideas, rather than how to dispose of information safely.