In all colleges and schools, data is kept on file servers throughout the network. Access to this data can often be messy and unstructured after years of granting and revoking access to different users. This unstructured data brings with it a level of risk in terms of adhering to compliance such as FERPA and NCES 97-859.

A risk that is often overlooked when assessing the need for access transparency is the reputation of the educational organization. Having spent 17 years working with the education industry and information security, we have seen many cases of private information such as student files or exam results getting into the wrong hands or users with extra access privileges. Regaining trust from students and staff after mishandling their private information is a tough feat and an easily avoidable one with the correct tools in place. With many colleges, schools and universities relying on an esteemed reputation for admissions, data breach is something you’ll want to avoid.

ERAM by Tools4ever, is a file system auditing software application that brings order to the chaos of unstructured data. This reporting tool makes all access permissions visible, maintaining a clear access trail. This access trail is key for auditing as it keeps track of all actions in the network. For example, when a user modifies a file, deletes it, copies it, moves it etc., there is a visual record of who carried out what action in the file system and when. With ERAM, you can obtain a bi-directional view of groups and their memberships as well as a user’s group memberships.

ERAM has some great spin off benefits for management. It goes as far as to make recommendations about how to structure and unstructured data logically. It can highlight users who have access they may not be using which can in some cases save organizations money as they can revoke obsolete licenses and/or accounts.

The user friendly and customizable dashboard offers an overview of all access rights from the perspective of file to user (how many users can access a certain file and what level of access do they have) or user to file (how many files can a user access and what level of access do they have to each file). You can also view access on a group level, which can be very useful for students enrolled in certain courses/modules that would require certain additional access.

Protection of data and information has become an unavoidable obstacle for educational organizations in the past few years. Be pro-active and put in place a cost effective automated reporting tool to shine a light on access. ERAM is key to keeping your school, college or university structured, secure and compliant.