The PBIS Rewards service is architected to provide a very high-level of security. This document provides details on the structural design of the systems that provide the service and describes the tools in place that can help your school do their part to ensure that unauthorized access does not occur.
The system architecture separates out the storage of data from the application intelligence. Simply put, the software programs are run on separate systems from the databases that store data about students and staff. PBIS Rewards uses Amazon’s AWS Cloud Services and their suite of security tools. The software application runs on AWS EC2 instances. The database servers utilize Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS). Data is encrypted at rest and in transit and relies on the AWS Key Management Services (KMS). Additionally, the database instances are in an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and the network configuration of the VPC limits access to the database instances from the EC2 instances running the software application.
There is limited access to the EC2 instances by the technical staff of PBIS Rewards. Access to make programming updates, system updates, and configuration changes can only be performed from the PBIS Rewards office. All logins and login attempts are logged. An enterprise-grade password management system is used to manage passwords and other login credentials and only necessary staff have access to this information. The password management system logs all accesses to the password data.
Access to the application is limited to web browsers that support SSL using TLS 1.2.
Login Access Security
In any system, the weakest point of security is use of passwords. Because password use is inherently problematic, we have taken the following position to help ensure unauthorized access doesn’t occur.
- Only staff (including teachers) have access to the application using usernames and passwords. When a staff user changes his/her password, the user is shown a password score as a grade. The grade is a letter from A to F. This password grade is stored and Administrative users can see the password grade for each staff user.
- Students do not have accounts with usernames and passwords to access their data. Students can access a read-only view of some of their own data by entering their Student ID Number or scanning their own badge.
- Parents can obtain a read-only view of some of their student’s data only after receiving a letter from the school which contains a QR Code unique to the student. Currently, access is limited to the smartphone Parent App. The parent only has to scan the QR code a single time and the app remembers the student.
We strongly recommend that schools educate staff on the importance of good password practices and that the password grades be reviewed regularly.