Preparing for College

How Do Colleges Protect Students' Personal Information?

Question:I am concerned about the safety of students information in college registration office. Is it possible, that the college lost students records and information due to, for instance, cyber attack? I want to know more about what measures, do the college generally have, to prevent the lost of students records?

From my own experience (having just cut up a compromised credit card for at least the third time in two years), personal information is never completely immune from cyber attack or from more garden-variety theft. I don't have the expertise to tell you how colleges safeguard student records, but all of us have seen enough databases invaded—even when they are purportedly secure—to be skeptical that anything that goes into writing can be fully protected.

I must say that I've been impressed by how quickly the “Fraud" departments at the banks that oversee my credit cards have identified bogus charges (even before I did) when my card numbers fell into the wrong hands. Granted, it probably didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a 65-year-old woman might not have blown 700 bucks at GameStop, but some of the other spurious charges that the Fraud folks caught weren't so large or so blatantly out of line with my usual spending habits. But, nonetheless, a speedy reaction to stolen data doesn't mean that personal information isn't still circulating where it shouldn't be.

If you have particular concerns about the security of your own information at the college you currently attend, you should speak directly to an official at the Office of the Registrar to ask how this data is maintained. Your school's Information Technology department may also be able to provide an explanation that is more ... well ... technical, than what the Registrar can offer. My best guess is that there are reliable back-up systems in place that make it unlikely that student information will be lost, but it's probably impossible to guarantee that it will never ever end up where it shouldn't be.