For schools, data protection is something that has to be carefully considered at all times, especially with the new GDPR regulations put into place this year.
Email may be an older form of communication now, but when it comes to organisations and schools, it's often the primary channel. The issue with emails is that they can easily be read by anyone at any of the many servers they pass through - 'read by' usually meaning a software that can detect sensitive data such as passwords.
What is sensitive data?
Some examples of sensitive data that schools regularly deal with include:
- Names of staff and students
- National insurance numbers
- Medical information
- Exam results
- Religious beliefs
If information like this is released by the school - whether it's intentional or not - they can face a huge fine for a data breach. Just last month The University of Greenwich was fined £120,000 for a data breach when the personal data of over 19,000 was placed online, including information regarding names, addresses, dates of birth, and in some cases even physical and mental health problems.
Email Encryption White Paper
To avoid any data leaks via email, the best solution is encryption. Email encryption is the process of making the information in your mail unreadable to anybody except the recipient - the recipient is the only person who can see past the encryption with the aid of a decryption key. This ensures that if anybody tries to access your mail while it passes through servers, or if a message is accidentally sent to the wrong email address, your data will still be safe as the message can't be read without the decryption key.
Adding onto this, many encryption services also have an email recall option - this means that if the recipient of your mail has not yet opened the message, you can simply retract the email. In cases when an email has been sent to the wrong person this can be extremely helpful as, even though you already have a layer of protection with encryption, it never hurts to be extra safe when you face the possibility of a huge data breach charge and the potential of endangering students.
These extra measures don't only protect your data, but by preventing any unwanted fines, as well as the need for additional security equipment or software, it can be a very time and cost effective decision for a school. A trusted third-party security service costs much less and makes the process easier.