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Student Portal Work Gets Encryption-Level Security

A non-profit organization that's working to help school districts create student portals to allow for the integration and reporting of data for school-related purposes has teamed up with two technology companies to ensure that the student records under its management are securely maintained.

Although the organization isn't identified in a press statement about the privacy project, inBloom is the likely candidate. Funded through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York, inBloom has been under siege from parent organizations that are accusing the organization of playing fast and loose with student data, including an intent to sell it to vendors, force states to purchase access to the data once it's in the inBloom systems, and other measures related to maintaining the data in cloud-based storage.

The unnamed organization has been working with OmniTI, an IT service provider that designs and develops Web infrastructures and applications for enterprise use. To ensure data security without massive changes to the non-profit's applications or databases, OmniTI chose to use data encryption software from Gazzang, which develops security solutions to protect sensitive information in cloud-based environments. Gazzang's technology, for example, is used to secure consumers' electronic medical records in compliance with HIPAA for several healthcare-related customers.

The two companies worked together to create a secure solution that can be run on hundreds of machines through the cloud without slowing down operations of the student-record keeping system. The organization's data is being maintained in an open source MongoDB database maintained on Amazon Web Services. By using Gazzang's zNcrypt and zTrustee, the development team has come up with a program that encrypts and secures the student data with "minimal performance lag" in the encryption or decryption process.

According to the two companies, the client organization now meets FERPA standards for securing sensitive data.

"This particular client required extra security measures because of the sensitive nature of working with student records," said Robert Treat, CEO of OmniTI. "We are pleased that our client entrusted us with this important work and will now have the best data encryption solution available, as it continues to set up student portals in the cloud."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.