Options for Securing Confidential Electronic Data
Confidential data, including personal information, must be secured against theft, loss, and inadvertent sharing. This page is designed to provide you with information about how to secure confidential electronic data. The options are especially important if you are using:
- A computer to access confidential data, including personal information.
- Mobile devices such as laptops, USB keys, smartphones, tablet devices, portable hard drives, flash drives, etc.
- Any computing device that is used by other people.
Consider the sensitivity of the information you are using, where you are accessing, using or sending it, and choose the appropriate option described below. Portable devices are a great convenience but also increase the risk that confidential information will be lost, stolen, or inadvertently shared.
- One way to limit security risks for confidential electronic data is not to store it on your own devices. Computing and Communications Services (CCS) and some departments provide servers that are designed to provide secure locations to save confidential data. This has security advantages over saving confidential data directly on your computer, particularly in the event your computer is lost or stolen. CCS provides personal and shared-access folders on file servers free of charge for faculty and staff. Click here to request access to the Central File and Print Services (CFAPS). Some other academic and administrative departments offer similar services.
- If you need to access data stored on the server from a remote location, you can do so securely using RU-VPN - a virtual private network system that encrypts data in transit between Ryerson's servers and your computer. Click here to request access to RU-VPN
- For very sensitive data, you can set up encrypted folders containing private or confidential data on devices like laptops or shared workstations. The folders can be stored on the server (recommended) or on your hard-drive. Current operating systems such as the most recent releases of Windows and Mac OS support folder-level encryption. See the resources section for useful links on folder encryption.
- If you must use portable devices like USB keys and Flash drives, purchase devices that support password protection and encryption. For example Ryerson's bookstore sells the Kingston Data Traveler Vault - Privacy.
All computers, including mobile devices, should be password protected. Information on choosing a strong password is available here. Whenever screen savers are used, they should be configured so that a password is required to exit screen saver mode.
In some cases Ryerson departments may have policies in place that restrict the transport of data off campus. If you are unsure, check with your Chair, Director or Manager first.
If you are unsure of what constitutes personal information, see the definitions section of Ryerson's Information Protection and Access Policy - Restricted Information available here.