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Thursday, July 31, 2014

  New Resources
Travel Tips for Data Security
Free Security/Privacy Training Resources
Two-step verification
Combating Malware
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Cloud Computing and Data Outsourcing
Best Practices for Applications with Confidential University Data
  Security "Greatest Hits"
Managing Passwords
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Hoaxes, frauds & scams
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Tips for safe computing
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  More in-depth information for
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Penn Security & Privacy Assessment (SPIA)
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Secure Share
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Electronic privacy
Worms, trojans, backdoors

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 22, 2011 - Almanac Vol. 58, No. 13

Is it Okay to Outsource Penn Data?

At Penn and everywhere, there is a growing interest in hiring vendors with specialized expertise to help us successfully deliver services. And sometimes, that means allowing those vendors to access institutional data, including personal information of students, faculty, staff, alumni and others. So, is it okay to let a third party use Penn data as part of an outsourcing arrangement? The answer is - you guessed it - it depends.

In general, from a privacy and security perspective, you may share Penn data with approved vendors if:

  1. Any compliance issues have been considered and appropriately addressed. Some compliance issues arise based on federal privacy laws such as HIPAA for health data and FERPA for student records. In such cases, it is critical to include specific language and protections in the contract with the vendor and have the vendor understand the requirements and agree to them. Some compliance issues arise based on funding requirements - make sure you are aware of any restrictions in any sponsored research for example and abide by them.
  2. There are strong privacy and security protections in the agreement. Regardless of compliance issues, when confidential Penn data is involved, the vendor must agree to baseline strong privacy and security language. Often this is accomplished through Penn's Purchase Order Terms and Conditions, which incorporate - via Exhibit A - such language. In some cases, it is advisable to include that language - and add to it - in the agreement itself.
  3. There has been due diligence regarding the privacy and security practices of the vendor. For the most sensitive data, you may wish to ask the company to provide an external certification of a strong security environment, for example. For less sensitive data, a less demanding review is often acceptable.
  4. Other significant privacy and security risks have been considered and appropriately addressed. For example, is the amount and type of information being shared limited to what is necessary? Are there marketing issues that may cause concern?
Penn's Office of Information Security and Privacy Office have produced guidance and tools on this topic, including:

  • Guidance on Cloud Computing: Opportunities Used Safely
  • Data Sensitivity and Review Framework
  • SPIA for Vendors

Visit for these materials.

Our offices are also available to assist in the process of evaluating vendor privacy and security practices and to work with the Office of General Counsel and Purchasing Services for assistance with contracts. Contact or

You have asked the right question (see title of this tip!). Penn has tools and resources to assist in the answer. Take the time and get the comfort that you are doing what is right—and sleep better at night.


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