By Erin Werra, edtech enthusiast and writer, Skyward.
One of the core tenants of FERPA states that student records should only be available to those who have a specific need to see them. On the other side of district operations, sensitive financial information can easily become fodder for fraud if it falls into the wrong hands.
There’s a lot of data to safeguard as a system administrator.
One strategy to explore is task-based roles in your student information system or enterprise resource planning system. How does this strategy keep your data safe? Let’s explore.
Roles vs. tasks
The first step is to define the difference between roles and tasks within the software.
Roles apply to the user and carry a specific set of permissions.
Tasks are actions available to the user, including screens in different areas of the software, and different data sets the user can access.
In some systems, the default method of assigning permissions (whether view or edit permissions) is based on an individual’s role in the organization. But what if users who share a role shouldn’t necessarily share access to the same screens, tasks, and data?
Task-based permission and least privilege
Rather than automatically assign everyone in a similar role the same permissions, consider instead which screens, data, and tasks people in those roles need to view. Consider the concept of least privilege: only the minimum necessary rights should be granted to maintain the highest level of security.
Let’s say, for example, a new administrative assistant needs to access data about demographics, attendance, and create new student profiles. The system administrator can create a role using those exact permissions, and then add the role to the related security group. This might mean all administrative assistants have similar, but not identical, permissions and are all part of the same security group.