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Key strategies to improve your university records security policy

by Ben Ruch
Records management underpins much of student, faculty and administrative experiences. It’s up to colleges and universities to ensure that they are positive experiences – and that the related records are secure.

Developing a strong records security policy is a key issue facing colleges and universities today. According to Symantec’s annual Internet Security Threat Report1, 10 percent of reported security breaches involved the education sector, trailing only healthcare and retail. These threats, paired with stringent federal regulations like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), have led higher education IT directors to make network and data security one of their top five priorities, according to the annual Campus Computing Project 2015 survey2.

What’s more, the variety of records – human resources records for faculty and other staff, student records, health records, and various administrative documents – and systems involved can make this challenge even more daunting.

While every situation is unique, it can help to model your approach to records security off past successes.

How can your college or university protect its most sensitive information? While every situation is unique, it can help to model your approach to records security off past successes. With that in mind, here are a few key strategies for improving records management security policy.
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Digitizing legacy information

My colleague Scott Garvin recently examined the viability of colleges – and students – going completely paperless. While 48 percent3of Americans believe campuses will go paperless in the next few years, the current reality for many campuses is that physical records are still very much a part of the administrative experience. Whether on paper or microfilm, physical records are often vulnerable to breaches. And securing them, often inside a vault, can complicate the workflow for accessing records. By digitizing records in secure storage, efficiency in accessing records can be balanced with security.

Rethinking the records submissions process

FERPA, HIPAA and even NCAA regulations, also have a compliance aspect alongside security – and digitizing the records submission process can benefit both. Enabling students, faculty and staff to submit all of their documents documents – transcripts, medical records, letters of recommendation, and so on – electronically via a web-based records system means less labor and resources for manually capturing information, and fewer opportunities for security issues. Automatically tracking and indexing these documents into an electronic data management (EDM) system once they’re submitted can help establish and preserve a chain of custody, while also making it easier to report on the status and security of these records.

The higher education records management security playbook

How can your college or university protect its most sensitive information? Find out.
These examples are just a start for considering how your college or university’s records management can augment your security policy.
Ben Ruch
Ben Ruch, Senior Region Manager, Higher Education for Ricoh USA, Inc., works with colleges and universities to provide Professional Services, Managed Services and Business Process Outsourcing Solutions that simplify processes, automate paper-based workflow and improve speed of information. Ruch has over 23 years of experience in the industry and expertise in production printing systems solutions and professional services solution.
1 "2015 Internet Security Threat Report." Symantec. April 2015. https://www.symantec.com/content/en/us/enterprise/other_resources/21347933_GA_RPT-internet-security-threat-report-volume-20-2015.pdf
2 Carl Straumsheim. "Something Old, Something New." Inside Higher Ed. October 29, 2015. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/10/29/survey-finds-enthusiasm-new-technology-focus-age-old-it-issues
3 Harris Poll on behalf of Ricoh