Baylor Seeks to Educate, Raise Awareness of Data Privacy and Cyber Security

January 25, 2019

University launches weeklong campaign around Data Privacy Day on Jan. 28

Media Contact: Eric M. Eckert, 254-710-1964
Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricBaylorU
Follow Baylor Media and Public Relations on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (Jan. 25, 2019) – Do you use social media? Have you made an online purchase? Have you clicked the “I agree” button without reading the fine print of a website’s Terms of Service? If so, there’s a chance that your personal and private information has been compromised.

Maybe it happened in 2017, when the Equifax data breach exposed the sensitive personal information of 143 million Americans. Or maybe it happened in 2018, when hackers accessed personal data of 500 million Marriott International customers. Or it could’ve happened when you voluntarily answered five questions on social media to discover the cartoon character with which you most identify.

(Read "Seven ‘Pre-Spring Cleaning’ Tips to Protect Personal Information".)

“There are websites and apps we use every day that collect, store, process and share all kinds of information on us, freely given by us, and that information is generally being used to commercially exploit us,” said Doug Welch, Baylor University’s chief privacy officer. “It can get downright scary. So, we need to be aware of what information is being collected and educated as to how we can protect that information.”

On Monday, Jan. 28, Baylor University will kick off a weeklong awareness campaign in conjunction with Data Privacy Day, an international effort launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to educate people about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust.

Throughout the week, Baylor will publish content online via internal channels to build awareness of data protection, privacy and cyber security issues. Content will include tips and action steps people can take to protect their identities and personal information, as well as information about University initiatives, such as the use of duo authentication and the formation of a University Privacy Committee, to protect private and personal information.

Statistics provided by the NCSA show:

• Nearly one-third of consumers do not know that many of the “free” online services they use are paid for via targeted advertising made possible by the tracking and collecting of their personal data.
• More than 70 percent of consumers are unaware of tools they can use to control or limit the usage of their personal data.
• Less than 20 percent of consumers say they are “very confident” that retail sites are protecting their private information.

“Most people like to have some control over what they are sharing and how it is being used. In terms of privacy, the things that make us most uncomfortable seem to be those things done without our knowledge or informed consent,” Welch said. “We generally don’t like to be taken advantage of, cheated or duped.”

The Baylor community includes thousands of people: faculty, staff, current and prospective students, affiliated entities, alumni, benefactors, customers, advisors/consultants, contractors, business partners and research subjects, any of whom have provided information to the University. As such, the University continually investigates and implements new measures and policies to protect information.

A recent step was the creation of the University Privacy Committee, whose charge is to “execute Baylor’s commitment to the protection of and legal and ethical use of personal and confidential information collected from and about members of the Baylor Community.”

The committee assesses privacy risks to the institution; reviews and approves data privacy policies and procedures; informs the Baylor community about privacy matters; reviews and approves any collection, processing, use or release of data that includes personally identifiable information or social security numbers; and reviews the annual privacy assessment performed by the chief privacy officer.

“The responsible and ethical use and protection of information requires that members of the Baylor community respect individual privacy, ensure confidentiality, safeguard the integrity and availability of Baylor’s information resources and comply fully with all applicable laws, administrative regulations and regulatory guidance,” Welch said. “The idea behind the privacy committee and the privacy program in general is to draw upon the collective knowledge and experience of people whose jobs deal with privacy laws and issues on a regular basis.”

Committee members include:

• Doug Welch, chief privacy officer
• Jon Allen, interim chief information officer and chief information security officer
• Deborah Holland, assistant vice provost for research/HIPAA privacy officer
• Jonathan Helm, registrar/FERPA officer
• Tammy Nutt, human training lead
• Randy Woodruff, assistant vice president for internet services
• Allen Bowden, director of advancement/development systems
• Blake Abbe, chief compliance and risk officer
• David Alexander, assistant general counsel

“Our hope over the next week – and into the future – is that members of the Baylor community will make time to learn more about privacy and take the proper care and steps to protect themselves from those who are out to do harm,” Welch said.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.