Secure exam printing

How to maximize your institution’s security


Security in educational institutions

The state of education security

Organizations are quickly realizing that data security is no joke – and if they don’t put in place adequate protection measures, sooner or later they are bound to have their confidential data breached or leaked internally.

And despite most global headlines focusing on industries such as healthcare, social media and finance, the education sector is not immune to outside attacks. On the contrary, in 2018 the Australian National University network was “significantly compromised” by hackers; Greenwich University in the UK was fined £120,000 for its role in a data breach; and even Yale University in the United States recently disclosed a data breach – an entire decade after it occurred.

The Middle East is just as susceptible as anywhere else in the world, which makes for alarming reading when you realize data breaches in the education sector are skyrocketing year-on-year.

Not every education provider has access to a robust and dedicated IT department, though, and many employ third-party vendors to manage things like their servers and data security, which reduces oversight. So what can schools and universities do about protecting their data – and in particular the threat of leaked exam papers and the personal student data that’s attached to them?

On-site exam printing

Printing exams on-site

While third-party vendors may have the capacity to fulfill your exam-printing needs, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best place to produce such sensitive materials. First, you won’t have any oversight or capacity to determine the security requirements of off-site suppliers. Which means even if your own school or university has strict regulations around data management, you can’t ensure your print vendor will enforce those same measures.

While it may make financial sense to outsource such print tasks, recent history has shown that doing so could compromise the security of exam papers. One case in point is the University of Tasmania, which shut down its on-site UniPrint service in order to save on staff costs. However, this decision was immediately met by outrage from unions.

While exam security was a major concern, respondents speaking to also claimed that a third-party vendor would be unable to “identify potential issues with examination questions and answer booklets, and rectify them quickly enough to ensure the timeliness of delivery of exam materials to students.”

Investing in a print room is one solution that Middle East education providers may choose to adopt. With all exam-printing functions conducted on-site, there is a lower risk of unauthorized personnel gaining access to the sensitive material, and it means the organization itself can define and deploy its own regulations around the management of examination and student information.

Security can be further enhanced with the installation of a ‘swipe’ reader, which will allow only verified staff members access to the print room, and means only those personnel have the authorization to print sensitive materials.

Using secure equipment

Using secure, auto-updating equipment

A print room is only one part of the solution. You also need to fill it with equipment that has been developed with security at its core.

Canon is one provider that works directly with education providers to provide them with highly secure, user-friendly print devices and software. The imageRUNNER ADVANCE 3500 II Series, for example, is perfect for busy workplaces – especially schools and universities – that rely on connectivity and speed while also delivering quality printing.

And because security should never take a backseat, auto-updating software like Canon uniFLOW acts as a buffer between potential threats and print jobs. With the ability to block content from being printed until a member of the IT department authorizes it, according to that user’s permissions, uniFLOW means schools can assign access to certain staff. So for sensitive projects like exam printing, the potential for external breaches – or even internal leaks due to employee error – is greatly reduced.

When it comes to data security for educational institutions, it’s about more than protecting the integrity of the exam questions and answers. Schools and universities also hold additional data linked to those exams, such as confidential student information like names, phone numbers, addresses and potentially financial data. It is therefore essential that all relevant data is kept as secure as possible, and that can only start from within the institution

Find out how Canon’s office solutions can help you create a safer connected office

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