Academic institutions are facing serious cybersecurity risks due to the pandemic, having gone through a digital transformation to online learning in a mere matter of months. They have been forced to shift their educational platforms with courses taught and consumed online. These sudden changes have resulted in increased security risks and thus, disrupting the business continuity and reputation.

As platforms and data move to the cloud, secure access to all of the applications for both faculty and students becomes a serious cybersecurity issue. Cybercrime or fraud is being targeted in many manners:

  • bad actors pretending to be recruitment agents working on behalf of post-secondary institutions.
  • Increased ransomware, phishing and other attacks.

According to Educause study, the two biggest IT issues for 2019-20 relate to developing an enterprise security strategy to develop risk-based policies to detect, respond and prevent threats and institute safeguards to protect privacy rights to  protect all types of data.

Thus, the obligation for higher institutions is to ensure that these students and institutions data and information is protected from cybersecurity threats. These threats have never been higher given the fact that Colleges and Universities have already started their academic year, the time to start planning to fix the threats posed to our institutions, faculty and  students is now; in conjunction with institutions normal operations.

Parabellyx is a vendor agnostic security services provider who takes a focused and business aligned cybersecurity approach in developing strategies that accomplish your key business goals and objectives. We, then, train the entire organization in security, preparing for any threat, until a security mindset is entrenched across the entire company, protecting and ‘future proofing’ information, students, and most importantly, reputation. We suggest emphasis be placed on crucial exposures to minimize risk.

Identity and Access Management.

It’s critical to ensure that institutions identities and their access are not compromised.  This involves more than just a technical solution. Historically, this has been a convoluted process as too many people are involved; faculty, admission alumni, admin, student associations. Institution is left with a hugely complicated process fraught with cybersecurity risks.

With students and administration able and encouraged to connect from anywhere, the perimeter of the network has expanded tremendously, thus, increasing cybersecurity risks such as malware, fraud and potentially compromising faculty and student data. This is why the potential for success in malware or phishing attempts is increasing, regardless of how much awareness training is provided.  So, the first thing that needs to be done around identity and access management is simplifying the process itself.

Solution

  • Map out the new online process w/ information and their security levels, including current patches, from all sources; admin, students, unions, communities and partners.
  • Simplifying the privileged process with its associated workflows and grant certifications for all identities in a semi-automated process ensuring that this process is aligned to corporate goals.

Cloud Migration.

The cloud and data migration is extremely complex, and institutions cannot simply rely on manual management in the cloud. Breach are not just due to malicious activity, but simply because someone forgot to set correct permissions in the system and suddenly, all of this data is publicly accessible throughout the internet. Automation of security features are of paramount importance during this deployment.

Fortunately, strong planning with the right security vendors and a thorough risk-assessment can help post-secondary institutions lock down their security protocols. This will allow them to leverage security technologies, addressing the security of both users and devices accessing the applications anytime, anyplace, and from any device. Through planning, process, people and technology, cybersecurity threats can be reduced and resolved entirely.

Solution

  • Risk assessment to validate that proper security provisions as part of their corporate policy and good governance before the institution would allow the project to go live.
  • Automation to remove the risk of human error.
  • Work with a security vendor with expertise in cloud migration security.

Summary

Institutions alone cannot be fully responsible for protecting institutional data. Faculty and students must be part of the solution as well. Following a simple philosophy for managing anything online; trust it but verify.

Institutions going through rapid digital transformation to adapt to changing needs of their students and environment must incorporate cyber strategy at the planning stages of any new initiative and thus, stay ahead of ongoing and changing threats.

Parabellyx is committed to working with and helping all institutions to learn how to be safe and protect their institution, faculty and students from Cybersecurity Threats and Risks. We will welcome an open and tabletop dialogue on challenges faced and discuss proactive options to mitigate such threats so that institution can concentrate on their core education delivery.