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My child's school is using a Google Web Form to collect student and parent information, including occupations, addresses, maiden name, birthdays, contact information, and who the child resides with.

How do I know how secure my information is, if I choose to fill it out?

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Assuming the school has a valid need for this information, and you are happy to provide it, this is probably one of the better ways to collect it. Compared it to asking for this via email, or paper form that then gets entered into a school computing system. Email is sent in clear text, anyone sharing the same network can see this traffic, including your ISP and the schools ISP. A paper form could get lost on the way to school or in the post, and once entered into the computer probably will get put in the rubbish, not shredded.

Googles servers themselves are very secure, the web forms are also very secure. I would be much more worried about the schools information security, irrespective of how it is collected. The following are the questions you should be asking the school.

  1. Why are they collecting this information and what use will it be put to?
  2. Who have they given permission to view this information?
  3. Do they require all those people to have two factor authentication on their Google accounts?
  4. Do they require all those people to only access their Google accounts on fully patched computers?
  5. Do they require all those people to run up-to date anti-virus and anti-malware programs?

If I was a bad person wanting to get hold of this information I would not attack Google I would attack the machines/accounts in the school which have access to the information. This would remain the case no matter how the data was gathered as long as it was stored electronically.

  • You also may want to factor in the sensitivity of the data. While maiden names and birth dates can, unfortunately, be useful for things like hijacking accounts that use "secret" questions, this kind of information is already probably available to anyone who wants it. Most of it is in the phonebook, the rest can be bought from data brokers, no hacking required. – lzam Sep 9 '14 at 1:19
  • Thank you very much for taking the time to reply. This is what I suspected but my web areas of expertise are front end design and development and I don't work with personally identifiable information other than my own. This responses are helpful, thanks again. – Christina Sep 10 '14 at 12:19

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