Big Data: Don’t Be Afraid.

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Image source: Pike Research

Security. What does that even mean anymore? So often we hear about people’s personal information getting hacked. And honestly, that’s a scary thought. The idea of someone stealing my identity and maxing out my credit cards is terrifying. I already know all of my information is just floating around out there, so when you tell me my education and workforce history is all going to be compiled into a single database that’s a scary thought too, right? Wrong! Not all databases full of information need to be scary.

Virginia received grant funding to develop the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS) under the United States Department of Labor’s Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI). The VLDS allows schools to compile personal student information, starting from early education all the way through entering the workforce, into one data system.  When we hear our personal information is going to be stored in a database we automatically assume our Social Security Number, address, email, phone number and all that other personal stuff will be included.

But fear not! The VLDS uses a security method, similar to HIPAA, called de-identification. This process removes all identifiable information from the files before it is sent to the data system. The system doesn’t document any personal information your schools have, such as:



-Phone number

-Social security number

-Email address

So be relieved! This database is meant to benefit Virginians in the future. And best of all, your information is secure. Someone who looks at the information might know that someone your age went to all the same schools that you did, got all the same grades you did, and went to work for the same company you did making the same salary you do – but no one will actually know they’re talking about you.

I know, you’re probably thinking “you must be crazy to think I believe my information won’t get hacked.” I think we too often hear about someone’s information being stolen and it’s scared us away from believing that anything “secure” is actually secure. But like I said, they’re putting this database together to help improve our education system. They’re going to make sure any personal information is kept out of the system. They’re not going to jeopardize their research, and they certainly do not want to jeopardize anyone’s identity!

So, I guess the lesson here is: not all security isn’t secure.

If only all identity thief’s could be like this:



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