Digital signatures will soon become more prevalent

Jessica Dreschel

E-signatures, Social Security numbers and spyware, oh my!

Do not be scared about online security. Information Services held a seminar yesterday on federal regulations and how they apply to Web services and security.

Keynote speaker George Voinovich talked about the proper use of electronic signatures on virtual contracts.

Electronic signatures are becoming much more acceptable in the business world, Voinovich said.

Digital signatures can be used to authenticate all types of documents except things like wills, adoption certificates and eviction notices.

“The technology is coming. In the next four or five years it will be common,” Voinovich said.

Greg Seibert, director of security and compliance at Kent State, spoke about Web security and university transactions.

The crowd munched on free pastries and fruit while the speakers talked about online security issues.

Seibert said that there were 10 million reported cases of identity theft last year. Few happened at Kent State.

How can students protect themselves from identity theft?

Rule number one: Be wary of people asking for Social Security numbers, Seibert said.

“If it feels suspicious, it probably is,” Seibert said.

Also, do not do risky activities like online banking on public computers. There is no way to monitor who can access that information, Seibert said.

Roberta Sikula-Schwalm, university registrar and Enrollment Management and Student Affairs systems coordinator, outlined what the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is and who it protects student records from.

FERPA states student records are confidential and cannot be released without permission from the student, Sikula-Schwalm said.

In one case, a father from Nebraska wanted to access his daughter’s grades. She would not give her father permission to view the records, so there was nothing the university could do, Sikula-Schwalm said.

The seminar, while covering serious subjects, was not devoid of laughter.

Voinovich’s cellular phone rang during his time at the podium.

“Excuse me. I have to deactivate my personal technology,” Voinovich said.

Contact academic technology reporter Jessica Dreschel at [email protected].