IT infrastructure at colleges and universities has become increasingly complicated as availability, performance, and student success compete with security. But the threat landscape continues to expand, as evidenced by the growing number of cyber attacks in the sector (education institutions are the number-one target for ransomware attacks). To meet these technical demands, as well as increased cyber risks, IT teams must assume both a strategic and practical position as they seek to deploy innovative learning systems.

As higher education navigates digital transformation in an age of sophisticated cyber attacks, it’s important to look at what is expected of IT, and how they can enable technical innovation while maintaining a campus-wide focus on cybersecurity.

Technology’s role in higher ed

Attending a college or university is a significant investment for students, both in terms of time and expenses. As a result, students seek institutions that provide the highest level of technical resources to maximize their experience and ensure their success in school and beyond. Research shows that the two top business objectives of colleges are enrollment and student success. This is where digital transformation stands to play a major role.

Digital transformation incorporating artificial intelligence, IoT, virtual reality, and cloud offers college students more practical education, as well as new opportunities for collaboration through a more open network. This openness is critical, as students and faculty demand seamless access to the resources provided by the school and broader academia across an array of devices and applications. However, with so many user-owned devices connecting to the network, openness also presents a significant security risk.

(Next page: 3 ways to foster cybersecurity while increasing digital innovation)

About the Author:

Sowjanya O’Neill is senior manager of SLED marketing at Fortinet. She is a technology and marketing leader with more than 15 years of experience bringing technology solutions from concept to market with a focus on cybersecurity. O’Neill is focused on helping educational institutions become cyber resilient. She manages marketing of cyber solutions for a diverse set of customers who have unique security challenges.