SaaS Solutions Provide Higher Education with Competitive Advantage

The World Economic Forum published their annual Global Competitiveness Report ranking The United States the 2nd most competitive economy in the world out of 137, which is its highest rating in 8 years. Higher education, job training, quality of companies, market size and technological capabilities all played a role.

The contributing factors that result in a competitive economy are in and of themselves competitive as the U.S. continues to foster a culture of innovation and opportunity for success. Higher education is a good example of this as colleges and universities seek to attract students who perform well and successfully land jobs, increasing their graduation and placement rates and thus repeating the cycle.

In order to attract prospective students, colleges employ multiple approaches, including offering financial incentives and scholarships to offset student costs, creating partnerships with businesses and organizations that allow for meaningful internships and project experience, and providing opportunities on-campus for meaningful experiences and connections. In addition, colleges and universities are becoming increasingly aware of the role of technology in creating competitive advantage in both their efforts to attract students as well as how they function internally.

From a recruiting standpoint, technology is being utilized in digital marketing efforts, social media, and by taking advantage of newer software that allows inquisitive prospects to take online campus tours. All of these SaaS solutions being leveraged in the attempt to attract and gain the interest of students.

Internally, it’s equally important that technology play a role in competitive market advantage by finding solutions that allow colleges and universities to streamline processes, operate more efficiently, reduce costs, and maintain privacy and compliance standards. One SaaS solution that addresses all these is the replacement of FTP systems with cloud storage and online file sharing.

Cloud storage and online file sharing allows university administration to store massive amounts of data in a safe and cost effective way. Solutions include cloud storage as well as on-premise solutions and even hybrids. This SaaS solution also addresses privacy and compliance standards, both domestically and for foreign exchange students while also centralizing oversight by allowing for easy management and control of user access and permissions that meet the specific needs and requirements of a school’s administration and staff. Further, integrations with other products and software generally greater provide ease of use.

Whether protecting student data, segregating department files, managing access, or complying with regulations, an online cloud storage and file management SaaS solution like SmartFile meets all these needs and more.

Check out our Education webpage to see what other universities have leveraged this business solution and find out more about how SmartFile can meet your specific needs.

SmartFile as Controller and Processor

As a Controller

SmartFile needs to understand, at least partially communicate, and record internally, data on the consumers of our services (name, contact information, IP address, and billing information.)  By agreeing to our Terms of Service, users provide express consent.

We do not use tracking cookies, nor do we sell or transfer any of this data to third parties. We use third parties for certain supporting services.  Currently, these include our helpdesk, subscription management, and marketing systems.

Our security standards are compatible with GDPR, and available here. Our data breach policy is available here.

As a Processor

SmartFile is a file storage and management service serving business customers. The two ways our service is utilized are in the cloud (on our servers) and with our on-premise solution, both of which are where files are uploaded for storage and management. Our customers (controllers) control and determine what data and files are uploaded (some of which may contain personal data), who has access and rights to those files, and how long the records are stored. SmartFile, as an enterprise supporter and service provider, does its part to ensure appropriate safeguards and measures are in place that underpin these functions.


Secure Processing

Article 32 of the GDPR addresses the security of processing activities and requires organizations to have the appropriate technical and organizational measures in place to effectively and securely process data. At SmartFile, we have always taken this role seriously and provide a multifaceted approach, some of which include SAAS 70 and HIPPA certifications, encryption in transit and at rest, and control over connections and data transfer methods. For a detailed look at our security, please click here.


System Resiliency

System access, stability, and resiliency are critical to the health and operations of any business. We have multiple systems in place to ensure safety to that end including redundancy, multiple firewalls, alerts, activity logs, and direct access to view system status and downtime. We even post system updates and notification to social media. To view our current system status, please click here.


Data Subjects Rights, Requests, and Investigations

The rights of data subjects included within the GDPR regulation is one area where requirements have become more expansive (as noted in Article 5 and 12-21). Once our customers have taken the necessary precautions on their end for express consent and notification of data collection, SmartFile can support them in assisting with the protections, access to, requests of, and general management of that data. Our customers have complete autonomy and authority to determine what is stored and for how long, who has access, and the ability to make any necessary changes and updates upon request of the data subject or according to business need. Customers can also run reports to determine what has been done with files and respond accordingly. Our customers determine what data is obtained and stored and SmartFile keeps that data secure. We also have Support and Help/Tutorials to assist in these functions. Should our customers require assistance in performing any of these functions in the regular course of business, upon the request of a data subject, or as a result of an investigation, SmartFile can help our customers respond in a timely manner. For more information, please click here.


Appropriate Safeguards

In Article 46 of the GDPR, the regulation speaks to appropriate safeguards being in place to ensure reasonable protections for personal data along with “enforceable data subject rights and effective legal remedies for data subjects”, especially when transferring that data to a third country or international organization. Our customers need to be sure that their business partnership with us is legal, binding, and in compliance with GDPR standards.

SmartFile addresses this in our Terms of Service and Data Processing Agreements so that our customers can maintain confidence in partnering with us. Our customer contracts are legally binding and contain language with the necessary inclusions to be GDPR-compliant. For a link to our Terms of Service, a sample Data Processing Agreement (or request for one), or to contact us directly for more information, please click here.


Data Breach Notification

Keeping data secure is our number one priority and one of the main reasons our customers choose to do business with us. We pride ourselves on security. In today’s world, there is always a risk of a data breach, even with the best, most up-to-date measures in place to prevent it. In the event a data breach does occur, we have appropriate policies and procedures in place to provide timely notice to our customers, and any required agency, as stated in Articles 33 and 34 of the GDPR.  You can view that policy here.


« Back to GDPR

GDPR Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the GDPR?
A: The GDPR is an expansive regulation established within the European Union on behalf of its citizens and overseen by a Supervisory Authority in agreement with many other countries, including the U.S., to abide by its requirements or suffer stiff fines. The GDPR is the most far-reaching privacy regulation implemented to date, both in terms of its global adherence and its approach.

Q: How is the GDPR different from other regulations?
A: The GDPR differs from previous directives in a couple ways. First, it provides greater rights to data subjects in the following ways:

  • data subjects must be given specific information as to what data is collected, what will be done with that data, and to whom (the recipient) their data may go, and provide express consent for their personal data to be collected.
  • Data subjects have the right to request what information has been obtained from them, request that any errors be corrected, take their data with them (data portability), and have their data deleted upon their request (right to erasure).

Second, whereas previous regulations may have resulted in some software or administrative changes to comply, the GDPR positions companies to take a much more proactive, end-to-end approach to security and privacy in designing systems and technology around privacy as opposed to addressing privacy in a reactive or peripheral way.

Third, the notification process of data breaches requires impacted consumers to be notified within 72 hours. The Supervising Authority must be informed as well. The notification should include what data was compromised, how and when the breach occurred, and what remediation has or will take place.=

These are just a few, but important, ways the GDPR is different from previous regulations.

Q: What does SmartFile do with my data?
While SmartFile is a business-to-business model, individuals reach out to us on behalf of companies. We take consumer privacy very seriously, and we have the necessary systems and policies in place to keep their Personal Data secure. For a link to SmartFile’s privacy policy, please click here. For more information on SmartFile as a Data Controller, please click here.

Q: Can I count on SmartFile to assist and support my company’s GDPR efforts?
SmartFile serves business customers. Our role is generally acting as a Data Processor for these customers, who are in the role of Controller. As a Data Processor, however, privacy is very important to us and we are prepared for GDPR. While SmartFile can’t be responsible for the GDPR compliance of other companies, we can support your business as it seeks to meet the GDPR requirements by maintaining our own internal policies and privacy efforts. We can also assist you with requests you may have for data, as well as providing help and technical assistance for using the SmartFile system effectively to manage the files you store, which may include personal data. For more information on SmartFile as a Data Processor, please E.

Q: Does SmartFile offer a Data Processing Addendum (DPA)?
Yes. For more information on how customers may enter into the SmartFile Data Processing Addendum, please contact support.


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GDPR Definitions

Below is a list of common terms used within the GDPR regulation that we are integrating into our privacy and security framework. As you read through our policies and other information pertaining to privacy, compliance, and regulations, you can refer here for definitions of terms with which you may not be familiar. According to the GDPR Regulation:

Data Subject means an individual (in terms of GDPR, a citizen of the European Union). In the context of privacy, the data subject’s personal data is what must be protected.

Personal Data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’). An identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.

Processing means any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organization, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction.

Profiling means any form of automated processing of personal data consisting of the use of personal data to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to a natural person, in particular to analyze or predict aspects concerning that natural person’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behavior, location or movements.

Pseudonymization means the processing of personal data in such a manner that the personal data can no longer be attributed to a specific data subject without the use of additional information, provided that such additional information is kept separately and is subject to technical and organizational measures to ensure that the personal data are not attributed to an identified or identifiable natural person.

Controller means the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data; where the purposes and means of such processing are determined by Union or Member State law, the controller or the specific criteria for its nomination may be provided for by Union or Member State law.

Processor means a natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which processes personal data on behalf of the controller.

 Recipient means a natural or legal person, public authority, agency or another body, to which the personal data are disclosed, whether a third party or not. 2However, public authorities which may receive personal data in the framework of a particular inquiry in accordance with Union or Member State law shall not be regarded as recipients; the processing of those data by those public authorities shall be in compliance with the applicable data protection rules according to the purposes of the processing.

Third Party means a natural or legal person, public authority, agency or body other than the data subject, controller, processor and persons who, under the direct authority of the controller or processor, are authorized to process personal data.

Consent of the data subject means any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.

Personal Data Breach means a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed.

Binding Corporate Rules means personal data protection policies which are adhered to by a controller or processor established on the territory of a Member State for transfers or a set of transfers of personal data to a controller or processor in one or more third countries within a group of undertakings, or group of enterprises engaged in a joint economic activity.

Cross-border Processing means either:

  1. processing of personal data which takes place in the context of the activities of establishments in more than one Member State of a controller or processor in the Union where the controller or processor is established in more than one Member State; or
  2. processing of personal data which takes place in the context of the activities of a single establishment of a controller or processor in the Union but which substantially affects or is likely to substantially affect data subjects in more than one Member State.

« Back to GDPR

A Roadmap to GDPR

GDPR takes effect May 25, 2018, and SmartFile is ready. We’re also here to give you some information as you navigate your own GDPR course. To assist you on your trip through GDPR compliance, we’d like to share our journey with you along with how we are committed to supporting your business with compliance.

At SmartFile, we take data protection seriously. Every customer we serve is important and so is their information.  While we serve business customers, many of our clients serve the consumer directly. Whether we obtain information directly from our customers or store it as a third party on behalf of our customer as a processor, the data we hold is important and worthy of protection and safeguards necessary to keep it secure.

Your business is important to us, privacy is important to us, and committed partnership is vital to a successful business.  We’ve prepared the following sections to explain our policies in support of GDPR.


GDPR Definitions

FAQs / Frequently Asked Questions

SmartFile as a Controller and Data Processor

Policies and Standards

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