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8 Steps to Protect Your Student and Alumni Data

By February 13, 2020

By: Gina Marques, CRM Manager, OwnBackup

By storing your data in Education Cloud, universities and colleges can provide students, alumni, and faculty with connected experiences across communication channels and departments. Students no longer have to spend all day waiting in lines to register for courses, to discuss financial aid options, and to sign up for housing. Plus, enables institutions like yours to focus their time and energy on bringing value rather than worrying about how to safely store your surplus of data.

Here are eight additional steps you should take to further protect your student and alumni data on Salesforce.

1. Check Your Data Health

Salesforce Admins should use Salesforce Security Health Check to reduce security risk and limit institutional data loss. Settings that meet or exceed compliance raise your score, while settings at risk lower your score. I recommend aiming for a score of 90% or higher for the most optimized Salesforce security settings. Learn more about how this tool works on Trailhead.

Salesforce Security Health Check Tool

2. Consider User Permission Settings

If your institution hasn’t thought through the permission settings needed by each user, you may have a higher risk of accidental deletion or alteration of student and alumni data. Take time to consider whether or not employees need access to so much data. Once you’ve determined the permission settings that fit your institution’s needs, you may leverage the delegate admin profile option or make custom profiles for some employees.

3. Get Your Admins Certified

All Salesforce admins should get certified. Being certified as an admin will increase their skill level and help them become more knowledgeable about Salesforce best practices. Admin users who do not have the proper Salesforce knowledge can put your institution at risk of user-inflicted data loss and corruption. The good news is that you can get certified at Higher Ed Summit! Sign up for a prep course the day before Summit; the class concludes with an exam at the end of the day. Mark your calendar!

  • Tuesday, April 28 – 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Cost: $700
  • *Note: This registration fee is separate from the main conference registration fee.

4. Establish Integration Credentials

As part of your institution’s digital transformation, you may decide to enrich your Salesforce org by integrating internal systems and applications through the Salesforce API. It’s important that configurations are set to accommodate your needs, otherwise you might experience unexpected behavior that could cause student and alumni data loss or corruption.

I recommend setting up one unique set of user credentials for EACH integration. That way, if something does go wrong, you can easily identify which integration caused the problem. In addition to unique credentials for each integration, you should enable “API Only User” for each integration profile.

Salesforce System Admin API Profile Overview

5. Back Up Regularly

According to the OwnBackup State of Salesforce Data Protection survey results, 88% of companies have no comprehensive backup and recovery strategy. Plus, 49% of data loss and corruption are caused by human error. These accidents are reversible with comprehensive backup and recovery tools. Luckily, you can pick a partner backup solution that can be found on the AppExchange.

If you have no backup strategy in place, you may be putting your student and alumni data at risk. At a minimum, I would recommend starting with Salesforce’s native Weekly Export. This data extraction functionality provided by Salesforce will produce a weekly or monthly set of .CSV files for the standard and custom objects that you specify. These files must be manually downloaded each week within 48 hours of receiving the download link. To download the zip file, follow the link in the email or click Data Export. Zip files are deleted 48 hours after the email is sent (not including weekends). For example, if the email is sent on a Friday, the zip file is deleted on Tuesday.

It is then your responsibility to store the files in a secure location, and in an organized manner. If you should suffer a data loss or corruption, there are a number of required steps to restore data with the Weekly Export, and importantly, the relationships using the many .CSV files contained within your Weekly Export .zip files. Note that even though you can back up your data this way, if you ever need to restore it, you’re going to have to take a bunch of object dependencies into consideration and it can be a pretty daunting task. Which means a dedicated actual backup/restore tool can be very helpful!

Salesforce Weekly Export Data Recovery Steps

6. Comply with Regulations

Higher education institutions would be well-advised to implement effective backup and recovery processes. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires institutions to mitigate risks to the data they control, which may include backing up EU student and alumni data. Institutions subject to GDPR must pay attention to the regulation across both their live data and their data backups.

7. Speed Up Recovery

For many higher ed institutions, having unresolved data loss or corruption for over one week could negatively impact students, alumni, and faculty. As you construct your data recovery strategy, you will need to define your recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO).

The RPO is the amount of data an institution can afford to lose before it begins to impact operations. Therefore, the RPO is an indicator of how often your institution should back up its data.

The RTO is the timeframe by which both applications and systems must be restored after data loss or corruption has occurred. The goal here is for your higher ed institution to be able to calculate how fast you need to recover, by preparing in advance.

8. Test Recovery Often

If student and alumni data are lost, your institution will spend time and resources recreating or recovering the lost data. Depending on your recovery plan, you may not be able to locate and restore all of the lost data. Maintaining and testing your data recovery plan is critical to ensuring your institution is able to recover as quickly as possible.

Are Your Student and Alumni Data at Risk?

And if you haven’t already, register for Higher Ed Summit 2020 in Indianapolis!


Salesforce AppExchange Partner

OwnBackup is an official AppExchange Partner. Find their app on the AppExchange.

About the Author

Gina Marques

Gina has been on the Salesforce platform since Jan 2014. She started attending user group meetings to learn and advance her skills on the platform. In May 2018, she became a co-leader of the Hamilton, NJ Admin Community Group. She is 3x certified, volunteers at events, and spoke at Dreamforce 2019. Gina is currently the CRM Manager for OwnBackup, the leading data protection and recovery ISV on the Salesforce AppExchange.