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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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One Step Ahead: Almanac Security Tips - 2014

In each issue, Penn's Journal of Record, The Almanac publishes helpful tips and hints for dealing with information security and privacy matters. This page is a collection of all those published thus far.
New! You can now receive new One-Step-Ahead Security and Privacy Tips automatically!
You can subscribe via Email or RSS.

Table of Contents (view all)

Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability
Security and Privacy Tips for World Travelers
Filing Taxes Online This Year? Take Steps to Protect Your Information!
If your computer runs Windows XP, you must update it now!
Why Should You Report Security Incidents? And How Do You Report One?
Photo and Video Privacy Issues
The Password is Dead, Long Live the Password!
Data Privacy Month: NSA Surveillance Panel at the National Constitution Center
Protecting Your Finances During This Year’s Holiday Shopping Season
Beware of Phishing E-mails in the Wake of Typhoon Haiyan
No E-mail from Penn Will Ask For Your Username/Password or SSN
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act: Does It Apply to Your Website?
October: National Cyber Security Awareness Month; Free Secure Disposal of Paper and Electronics
What Basic Rules Protect Student Information at Penn? (September 2013)
Protecting Privacy and Security on Penn + Box

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - Almanac Vol. 57, No. 12

Shipping Data Safely

In an age of e-mail and storage applications, we often think only of "sending" confidential data electronically and secure ways to do so. In fact, some faculty and staff actually have a need to physically ship or "snail mail" data—on CD-ROMs, flash drives, hard drives, paper and other physical media—to collaborators, government agencies, and maybe even themselves.

If you need to ship confidential information, think about the following:

First, consider less risky alternatives. You may not need to actually ship data on physical media to reach the desired destination. Secure electronic file transfers are quite common and can be arranged by your Local Support Provider. This is much less risky and should be used whenever possible.

If you must ship the data and the data is sensitive "breach notification data"— including Social Security numbers, credit card or bank account information and certain health information—you must encrypt it. Failure to do so, and any loss of that data, can cause significant privacy harm and will likely require a notification be sent to affected individuals. Encrypting the data is an easy and critical solution to these problems. Even with other types of sensitive information, encrypting the data is highly recommended.

Data can be encrypted with PGP software and then saved to CD-ROMs, flash drives, hard drives and other electronic media. Contact your Local Support Provider for assistance. Alternatively, encrypted flash drives can be purchased at a low cost. See for example Iron Key flash drives at

If you cannot encrypt the data you must ship, for example, because it is on paper:

  • Verify the recipient's most direct address before sending.
  • For domestic mail, send certified mail with restricted delivery. For shipping internationally, send registered mail with restricted delivery. This way, the person the package is addressed to will be the only one who can sign for it and you will receive a "return receipt" confirming that the delivery has been made. You can also track the package online at

Contact Penn Mail Services (215-898-MAIL) to arrange for these more secure shipment options.


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