Want to Protect Your Network? Start by Securing Your Payment Data

Want to Protect Your Network? Start by Securing Your Payment Data

By Dan Toughey on Friday, September 5, 2014

If you saw Ellucian’s latest infographic about data security on college campuses, you know how scary some of the numbers are; institutions reported 551 data breaches from 2005 to 2013. It’s estimated that among colleges and universities, data breaches occur at a rate of one per week. On average, each breach costs the institution $4 million.

A lot of college and university IT administrators have been known to lose sleep over this kind of thing — and rightfully so. When you get down to it, there are a lot of bad guys out there with a lot of very sophisticated software.

No institution’s IT environment is 100 percent safe. There will always be some risk in submitting and sharing information online. But that doesn’t mean colleges and universities can’t do more to reduce that risk — and keep their reputations intact.

So, where to begin?

Start by evaluating your network entry points and looking for weak links.

Does your institution use an online payment system? If so, that’s one part of your network that you’ll want to pay close attention to. It’s important for staff to have access to the system. Members of your finance and accounting teams need to track and process payments, and customer service representatives need to be able to communicate the status of transactions with customers, whether we’re talking tuition payments, bookstore purchases or tickets for athletic events.

In an ideal world, an institution would be able to pull that information out of a dedicated file. But not all payment environments are set up that way. And every new access point and disparate payment mechanism — whether we’re talking online, in person or from a mobile environment — creates another potential security threat. The more institutions can consolidate various payment points into a single synchronized operation, the more the risks are reduced and the easier the system is to manage.

Think of your campus like a small town or city. There are many different organizations and departments within your institution. The key is finding a way to bring all of those pieces and all of that volume together on the same platform. You’ll not only close dangerous security loopholes in your payment systems but also give campus business officers a clear view of all the transactions that take place across your entire infrastructure. In that way, it’s more than peace of mind; it’s a better, smarter way of doing business.

For more information about protecting your online payment systems, check out the Ellucian Payment Center by TouchNet

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