Thursday, May 08, 2008

More administrative bloat on the way

According to the front page of today's D, the College is looking for an "information security officer." Here's why:
Confidential research and security information can be transmitted by the click of a button or by the exchange of a simple CD. A professor at one of Dartmouth’s peer institutions learned this when one of her trusted post-doctorate students tampered with data on her computer and some of her valuable research-related CD’s were stolen. To counteract these security risks, the College is currently searching for a candidate to take on the role of chief information security officer.

Apparently the solution to professors being careless with their data is to hire a new bureaucrat rather than teach them how to secure their data...


Anonymous said...

If every administrator were already doing his job full-time, who would "teach them how to secure their data"? Volunteers from Kiewit? Students?

alum said...

Well, wait a moment. Dartlog got its knickers in a knot a few months ago over professors being able to find out if students had done the readings on line, or something like that. The complaint was apparently that students hadn't been informed that this could happen, and Dartlog seems to have wanted many unspectified reforms to be undertaken. On one hand, this is a legitimate information security issue, and a truly competent info security officer ought to be able to address such a problem to everyone's satisfaction -- except this isn't something Dartlog wants now, it's just administrative bloat.

And information security doesn't apply just to faculty research data. A college collects financial info on students and their families, credit info, grades, other appraisals, disciplinary info, medical info -- any of which, if released, could on one hand damage the students involved and on the other subject the college to lawsuits. Same for faculty info. Much the same for alumni development info.

If Dartmouth hasn't had someone looking systematically at such issues, it should. This is a long distance from associate condom festival coordinator.

A.S. Erickson said...

many unspectified reforms

Just one actually: all they had to do was post a note on the sight informing students that teachers can monitor what they do on it.

M. Heddaya said...

The thing is it's painfully easy to send out a memorandum to professors reminding them to keep their data secure. It's not like the information security officer will be standing over each professor's shoulder anyway.

Moreoever, I don't see how us being kind of shocked to find out that the professors can monitor our use of Blackboard means that we support expanding the size of information technology services--in fact, it would hint at the opposite, if anything.

Finally, regarding the argument that the College handles a lot of sensitive data: Is this data not secure right now? I should hope so. Moreover, it seems that the new hire would not even have jurisdiction over anything other than the integrity of academic data, so your point is irrelevant anyway.

Anonymous said...

I suppose if it's going to be a chief information security officer, there should also be deputy information security officers, and assistant information security officers as well.

alum said...

M. Heddaya, if you read just a tiny bit farther down the D article, it says “'The security officer really needs to have good campus relationships with faculty, students and staff,' Waite-Franzen said." Wouldn't you assume this means the person will work with people besides just research faculty?

The issues include protection, but also whether everyone involves understands what's supposed to be protected and what's not. That would include whether Blackboard should restrict certain things, or whether students understand that certain things aren't restricted. This seems to be what Mr. Erickson had in mind, but now feels is superfluous --d or perhaps he figures it'll get done even if nobody's paid to do it or to make sure it's done. Good training for the real world, Mr. Erickson!

If Dartmouth staff doesn't understand, for instance, that certain student data must not be made public, then you can have someone releasing disciplinary records the next time there's a to-do about something in the press.

Anonymous said...

“The security officer really needs to have good campus relationships with faculty, students and staff..."

Let's make him a trustee.

Anonymous said...

Michelle Obama makes 300 large as the Director of Diversity at the Univ. of Chicago. I wonder what our Director of Diversity makes? (And what he/she really does?)