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Security Awareness Protecting Sensitive Information. Western Carolina University March 2011. Objectives. What’s so important?. Universities hold massive quantities of confidential data and are traditionally seen as easy targets for data theft

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security awareness protecting sensitive information

Security AwarenessProtecting Sensitive Information

Western Carolina University

March 2011

what s so important
What’s so important?

Universities hold massive quantities of confidential data and are traditionally seen as easy targets for data theft

We must understand the types of data that we hold and related business processes

confidential data
Confidential Data

Credit/Debit Card #s

Social Security Numbers (SSN)


Passport Numbers

Drivers License Numbers

Bank Account #s

Personally Health Information

Student Education Records

Proprietary Research Data

Confidential/Privileged Legal Data

Personnel Records

university policy 97 data security and stewardship
University Policy #97Data Security and Stewardship

To protect the security and integrity of the University’s data

Applies to all data (paper and electronic records)

Addresses access to and disclosure of data

university policy 97 data security and stewardship cont
University Policy #97Data Security and Stewardship (cont.)


Members of the Executive Council (Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, Athletic Director, and Legal Counsel) are the designated Data Stewards who are ultimately responsible for ensuring the appropriate handling of University data

university policy 97 data security and stewardship cont1
University Policy #97Data Security and Stewardship (cont.)


Department Managers are responsible for ensuring that employees comply with all University policies on data security, as well as Information Technology and the Office of Institutional Research and Planning requirements

All University employees are responsible for complying with University policies on data security

university policy 97 data security and stewardship cont2
University Policy #97Data Security and Stewardship (cont.)


Confidential – limited access to and limited disclosure of data

Third Party Confidential – limited access to and limited disclosure of data (usually by contract with non-disclosure agreement)

Internal – limited access

Public – unlimited access and disclosure

university policy 95 data network security and access control
University Policy #95Data Network Security and Access Control

The Information Technology (IT) Division’s Networking & Communications department has the responsibility for the design, maintenance and security of the university’s data network.

To insure the integrity of the networkthe following items must complied with.

university policy 95 data network security and access control1
University Policy #95Data Network Security and Access Control

1.No device may be added to the network which does not conform to the approved list of devices, maintained and published by the IT Division, without prior approval of Networking & Communications. Rogue network devices will be automatically and immediately disabled upon detection.

2. No individual or office may connect a device to the campus data network that provides unauthorized users access to the network or provides unauthorized IP addresses for users.

3. Networking & Communications has the right to quickly limit network capacity to, or disable, network connections that are overwhelming available network bandwidth to the detriment of the university.

4. Access to networking equipment in wiring closets, etc. is limited to the Networking & Communications staff or their designees.

5. No consideration of changing the architecture of any part of the data network may be undertaken without the early and regular involvement of Networking & Communication Services.

university policy 95 data network security and access control2
University Policy #95Data Network Security and Access Control

The “Access Control Procedures Checklist” is accessible at the following link or you may copy and paste the web address.

Policy 95 – Data Network Security and Access Control

All persons with access to the university network must sign a Confidentiality Agreement that is maintained in their personnel records for employees or by the requesting department for non-employees. Employee supervisors are responsible for having employees sign the agreement, and requesting departments are responsible for non-employee compliance with the requirement.


Universities are required to comply with federal & state laws and regulations regarding the way they use, transmit & store sensitive information, and to meet payment card industry contractual obligations

HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (health data)

GBLA – Gramm Leach Bliley Act (financial data)

FERPA – Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (education records)

NC Identity Theft Protection Act (personal data, especially SSN)

PCI Data Security Standards (MasterCard and Visa)

nc identity theft protection act
NC Identity Theft Protection Act

The state’s Identity Theft Protection Act (ITPA) is designed to protect individuals from identity theft by mandating that businesses and government agencies take steps to safeguard Social Security numbers and other personal information

nc identity theft protection act cont
NC Identity Theft Protection Act (cont.)
  • State agencies must secure personal identifiers
  • Encrypt or secure the transmission of SSN
  • Do not collect SSN unless “imperative”
  • State agencies must report annually to the General Assembly on security efforts
  • State agencies must notify affected persons when there is a security breach, and sometimes law enforcement agencies and the Attorney General
identity theft
Identity Theft

More then 10 million ID theft victims nationally per year – the equivalent of 19 people per minute

Has surpassed drug trafficking as #1 crime in the nation.

In NC alone, the number of reported identity theft crimes have more then tripled over a 4 year period.

how is information stolen
How is Information Stolen?

Lost/stolen computing devices

Social engineering

Lost/stolen paper records




Unauthorized physical access to computing devices


The practice of acquiring personal information on the Internet by masquerading as a trustworthy business


Usually installed onto a computer by downloading other programs such as screensavers, games, and “free” software

Trojans – malicious programs disguised or embedded within legitimate software


Malware can:

  • Capture and send sensitive information from your workstation to the hacker
  • Download other malware
  • Crash your workstation
  • Be used to perform attacks from inside WCU’s network

Unauthorized and/or illegal computer trespass executed remotely via some form of communication network

(e.g., the Internet, LAN or dial-up network)

unauthorized physical access to computing devices
Unauthorized Physical Access to Computing Devices

Unsecured work stations, offices, desks, files

Unattended computing devices

lost stolen computing devices
Lost/Stolen Computing Devices




Smart phones


Removable Memory Devices

Flash Cards

Thumb Drives

which way did it go
Which Way Did It Go?

Cab drivers in one major city reported that; 4,973 laptops, 5,939 PDAs, and 63,135 mobile phones were left in cabs over a 6 month period.

social engineering
Social Engineering

A hacker’s favorite tool—the ability to extract information from computer users without having to touch a computer.

Tricking people to give out information is known as “social engineering” and is one of the greatest threats to data security.

social engineering cont
Social Engineering (cont.)

Social engineers prey on some basic human tendencies….

The desire to be HELPFUL

The tendency to TRUSTpeople

The FEAR of getting into trouble

social engineering cont1
Social Engineering (cont.)

Despite security controls, a university is vulnerable to an attack if an employee unwittingly gives away confidential data via email,

by answering questions over the phone with someone they don't know,

or by failing to ask the right questions

examine your business processes
Examine Your Business Processes

WHAT – data type

WHO – has access to the data

WHERE –data originates, resides, goes

HOW –data gets where it’s going

what to do with confidential data
What to do with Confidential Data

If you don’t need it for business purposes, don’t collect it

If you do need to collect it, maintain it securely

If you need to share it, transmit it securely

data security tips
Data Security Tips

Confidential data should never be located on a web server

Use a secure WCU server (H: drive) to store confidential data - do not maintain data on local disk (C: drive)

Do not create, maintain “shadow data” (duplicate data) – if you must maintain it, keep it on the H: drive

Encrypt confidential data whenever possible

Redact confidential data whenever possible (e.g., the last four digits of SSNs, partial credit card numbers)

data security cont
Data Security (cont.)

Be careful to whom you give sensitive information.

Ask yourself some questions:

Do you know who they are?

Do they have a need to know?

Do they have the proper authorization?

password security
Password Security

Never give your password to anyone

Don’t use the same password on multiple systems

Use a strong password (i.e., 12 alpha, changed case, numeric characters) on all your computer systems and change them regularly

Avoid using the “auto complete” option to remember your password

Avoid storing passwords (e.g., "check box to remember this password”)

securing your workstation
Securing Your Workstation

Log off or lock your workstation when you leave (CTRL-ALT-DEL)

Use a screensaver with a password enabled

Turn your computer off when you go home

steer clear of malware
Steer Clear of Malware

Avoid using Instant Messaging and Chat software

Avoid using Peer to Peer file sharing software

Don’t download or install unauthorized programs

Keep your computer up to date with the latest antivirus definitions and security patches

safe email practices
Safe Email Practices

Don’t open unknown or unexpected email attachments

If you receive an email with a hyperlink, don’t open it in the email – open a web browser and type the link in manually

Email is sent in clear text and should never be used to send confidential data

practice a clean desk policy
Practice a “Clean Desk” policy

Don’t leave confidential data unattended on your desk, FAX, printers or copiers

Keep confidential data stored in a locked desk drawer or file cabinet

Shred confidential data for disposal (in compliance with the NC Records Retention and Disposition Schedule)


Security Awareness Mindset:

“I understand that there is the potential for some people to deliberately or accidentally steal, damage or misuse the data that is stored within my computer systems and throughout our university. Therefore, it would be prudent for me to stop that from happening.”