Cybersecurity, data protection, and maintaining modern networks are among higher-ed IT leaders' priorities.

5 higher-ed IT leadership priorities

Cybersecurity, data protection, and maintaining modern networks are among higher-ed IT leaders' priorities

Key points:

Higher-ed IT leaders must remain constantly vigilant and balance access to learning resources with network security.

Maintaining networks and keeping processes updated while at the same time defending against ransomware threats and cyberattacks is a 24/7 process.

Here’s a look at some of the latest trends and challenges in higher-ed IT leadership and ransomware:

Balancing risk with resources: In the realm of higher education, where the pursuit of knowledge takes center stage, navigating the intricate landscape of cybersecurity demands a strategic approach that addresses both challenges and opportunities. This journey encompasses several pivotal waypoints: risk assessment and prioritization, budget allocation, and student and staff training and awareness. In a landscape where knowledge is paramount and resources are constrained, the ongoing threat of ransomware attacking higher education institutions necessitates a deliberate response.

Prioritizing data protection: To prioritize the protection of sensitive personal information, institutions must invest in customized data protection systems that will fit the institutions’ personal needs and goals. As cybercriminals continue to mature in their technical prowess, higher education institutions need the ability to control uncertainty to truly mitigate the risk and impact of a ransomware incident. Bad actors are becoming more sophisticated–and institutions must be prepared for the inevitable attack. To achieve maximum data protection, institutions should invest in systems that encompass multiple platforms and technologies, efficiently deliver critical data and applications with blazing fast restores, and let institutions derive real value from data.

Contemplating a move to the cloud: As many colleges continue to embrace hybrid learning, a reliable cloud infrastructure is imperative to ensure students are getting best-in-class learning opportunities, regardless of their physical location. However, cloud computing in higher education is projected to only grow 22 percent by the end of the decade.

Getting the most out of advanced analytics: With more data are more powerful algorithms that can play a role in everything from improved inclusivity to fewer instances of fraud. The potential for algorithms to impact and improve workflows has never been greater, yet many institutions are struggling to effectively use the data they have, much less reap the benefits of cutting-edge applications. It’s time for that to change. AI and advanced analytics can and must serve as trusted advisors for all parts of the higher education ecosystem.

Ransomware is rising–so, too, must defense readiness: Ransomware attacks continue to wreak havoc on the education sector, hitting 80 percent of lower education providers and 79 percent of higher education providers this year. That’s a significant increase from 56 percent and 64 percent in 2022, respectively. Schools store massive amounts of sensitive data, from intellectual property to the personal information of students and faculty. Outdated software, limited IT resources, and other security weaknesses further heighten their risk exposure.

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    Laura Ascione