5 Top Threats To Campus Cybersecurity

September 7, 2016 · steveverbanic · · Comments

With students heading back to campus this month and classes set to resume for another semester, many higher education IT professionals are worrying about the cyber threats that lay ahead.

With so much sensitive information at risk, it helps to have a solid idea of the threats that exist and how to deal with them effectively. After all, effective cybersecurity can only arise from a solid, well-defined plan based on real and projected risks.

Here are 5 of the top cyber threats campus IT security professionals can expect to come up against in 2016, that if left unaddressed, can have serious consequences for cybersecurity.

1. Cloud Security

Using the cloud to deliver applications and resources over the Internet can substantially reduce the cost and headaches of managing higher ed networks, but moving highly sensitive information into global data centers opens universities to a slew of new security risks. Keeping up on cloud security requires constant attention and will be a top area of focus for higher ed IT experts.

2. Data Privacy

Any higher education facility has databases loaded with personally identifiable information (PII) on students and faculty including salaries, financial aid and health records. With the risks of identify fraud and theft on the rise, data protection through encryption and other methods needs to be top of mind.

3. Personal Device Security

Students, faculty and everyone in between carry smartphones and tablets around campus with them these days. That’s not going to change any time soon. Because many of these devices are connected to campus networks and unsecured, they open up an entire world of cybersecurity threats. Every one of these devices is a potential threat vector. A holistic approach to security with complete visibility of borderless attack surfaces, 24/7 monitoring, behavioral-based threat protection and real time intelligence sharing is the best way to prevent unsecured personal devices from causing more harm than good.

4. Access Permissions

Just as in a medical facility, universities need to establish levels of permissions to dictate how much access individual students and staff members have within a network. Juggling permissions can be a challenge, but with risks from insider threats on an upward trend, there’s no getting around it.

5. Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are nothing new, but they continue to happen at an ever-increasing rate. According to a report conducted in 2016 by Verizon, just shy of ⅓ of users found themselves opening emails containing malicious links in 2015. As email is prevalently used on college and university campuses, the threat of phishing must be taken very seriously by IT professionals, students and faculty.

What’s Next?

Understanding these challenges is just the first step. Overcoming them requires ongoing attention to developing three things, including:

  1. A strong culture of security
  2. Consistent, enforceable cybersecurity policy
  3. Flexible, scalable best-of-breed technology

With our extensive experience helping higher ed customers address their top cyber threats, SLAIT can recommend strategies and solutions unique to your risks. We can deploy a cohesive “fabric” of advanced security technologies to improve your visibility and responsiveness on changing threat landscapes. For more information, contact us.