Technology Support and Services

Storing and Sharing Secure Data

Do you need an Encrypted USB drive?

Many students in the College of Education are training to work as teachers, principals, superintendents, school counselors, and other service and support professionals.  As you learn and acquire skills, and in your professional career, you may have access to confidential student and client information that is protected under FERPA, HIPAA, and other local, state, and federal regulations.  For a list of what is considered confidential information, see the Data Classification Grid

To help ensure the security of personal information like student academic history or the names and addresses of patients, you may be required to store your coursework and practicum materials on a secure, encrypted USB drive. 

What to look for in a secure USB drive?

When selecting a USB drive with encryption, make sure you choose a reputable manufacturer that stands behind their products.  Also look for a minimum 246-bit encryption and make sure your drive supports a password of adequate length and complexity. Good encryption software will also foil brute-force attacks by locking or, better yet, destroying all data if too many unauthorized attempts are made to access your data.

Options for Secure Drives

If you're not sure which drive to choose, we suggest you consider:

Options for Secure Cloud Storage

If you don't want to worry about carrying around confidential data in your pocket, you might also consider purchasing a low-cost license to secure cloud storage.  While this can be a more convenient option, before you buy, make sure that data is transferred to and from the storage securely (e.g encryption on both ends) and make sure you know where your data is being stored (in another country, perhaps?). 

Some options to consider:

Need to Share: TUsafesend

Even though we do our best to provide protection, you should never consider email secure! Do not send confidential information (or messages that you would find embarrassing) via email. University policy clearly prohibits the sending of confidential information by via email.

 

If you need to send private information, use TUsafesend. For details, see the CS TUsafesend page. Remember: it is your responsibility to limit sharing of confidential information to only those who are authorized to access it and only with those who have a business need to access the data. Not sure?  Don't share.

 

Done with your data? Securely Delete or Destroy

Once you are finished using any confidential data, you'll first want to check to make sure you are not required to retain archives for the purposes of future local, state, or federal reporting.  If you are sure it is ok to destroy your data files, an encrypted drive without the password/key will be of little use to the random person who picks it out of the garbage.  If you want to reuse or donate your drive or if you have files on your laptop or another device that need to be securely destroyed, check out this article from Tech Republic: Five hard disk cleaning and erasing tools.