Posts Tagged ‘electronic records’

Digital Don’ts

October 4, 2010

The upcoming email management information session will focus on ways to use Outlook to manage your email.  But what about cutting down on the amount of email you send?  A recent article from Law Technology News talks about the 5 things you should never put in an email.  Although this article is litigation-focused, the tips they give are useful guidelines for anyone who sends email as part of his or her job.  Tips such as “do not email when angry” seem to be common sense but the fact that the authors are able to highlight multiple real-life examples for each of the 5 tips says otherwise.

While the article about email talks about records you don’t want to create in the first please, NPR’s Talk of the Nation recently conducted an interview with a recording expert to talk about records you want to keep.  If your office has ever thought about burning your files to CDs as a way to back them up or increase storage space then this article is a must-read!  The joke in the digital preservation world is that a CD-R or a DVD-R will last 5 years or forever, whichever comes first.  Although this interviewee extends that lifespan to 10 years it’s still not the permanent preservation that many people hope for.  They go on to talk about ways to preserve those digital records that will help extend their accessible years.  Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe (LOCKSS) and various types of back-ups are just some of the topics they touch on.  And while interviewee’s expertise is in sound recording everything he says about digital records is applicable to any file format you can burn to a CD.

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The Hazards of Portable Information

August 18, 2010

Laptops and flash drives make our lives easier in that they allow us to move information, files, and data from one place to another.  However, they open up a whole batch of security issues in terms of who could have access to the information stored on them.

Take, for example, these two incidents in Oregon detailed in an article in SC Magazine.  In one case a psychologist’s laptop was stolen from his car.  The laptop, which had a non-password protected CD in the disc drive, contained information on his patients that is protected by HIPAA as well as names and Social Security Numbers.

In the other case, an employee of Portland Community College was using a flash drive to transfer data between two different campuses when the bag it was in was stolen out of the car.  The flash drive (also known as a thumb drive) contained personal information, including Social Security Numbers, for people participating in a community college sponsored program for unemployed Oregon residents.

I get asked every so often about the feasibility of backing up data to a flash drive.  My answer is always that you can but that you probably shouldn’t.  The second story in the news article is a great example of why.  Flash drives are cheap and easy to transport and, as such, are easy to misplace, steal, or forget about entirely.  If you need to back up your files or data or need to transport it from one place to another, discuss your options with IS.  They’re bound to have a more secure way to do it.

And if you find yourself taking your work home on your laptop, take a second to think about what kind of information you have on there.  Personnel data?  Student grade information?  If the files on your laptop contain any data classified as Internal Restricted Data or Highly Sensitive Data as defined by University Policy then I suggest you take precautions to make sure your laptop stays as secure as possible.  And don’t leave it in your car.