Like a lot of people, I’m a little concerned about how my private information is protected on the internet. I know that vital information about me is on the web in the care of companies large and small, from the bank I have my savings account with to the online stores I order things from.
These companies spend big to protect my data – I know that. But what about my university? They have a ton of my information, and they control the Wi-Fi network I’m most often on and the email account I use. They have more ways to track and store my data than any other organization I can think of. How can I be sure that they’re caring for my data?
Your school does indeed have a lot of your personal information, and it also has a lot of ways to learn even more about you, if it wanted to. But is your school likely to be snooping on you? Are they a dangerous institution to trust with your information?
The short answer: probably not. Universities tell us that students are their priority, and of course, the vast majority of universities (and virtually all reputable ones) are non-profit organizations, unlike the tech giants that mine your information in every way possible.
And all of the different types of information that your school ends up with – from your educational record to your health information – come along with a whole host of regulations. There are laws governing the privacy of such information, and that means that universities have a lot of federal and state restrictions on how they can use and share such data. Even if they wanted to, universities wouldn’t be able to do many of the things that you might consider a betrayal of trust.
Of course, even with the best intentions, universities may end up losing your data if they’re targeted by a hack. There are an ever-increasing number of data security companies out there who specialize in everything from individual security packages to full data solutions that try to identify vulnerabilities before they’re exposed. One such company, Terbium Labs, offers data protection services which can be useful to try and understand possible developing risks before they become a major issue.
So while we can never say never, you can rest easy knowing that the data your university has on you is relatively safe. For more information, check out your school’s policy on data protections and privacy, or reach out to school officials.
“As the world is increasingly interconnected, everyone shares the responsibility of securing cyberspace.” – Newton Lee