educate-from-Anywhere

How to securely Educate-from-Anywhere in 2022


With ongoing shifts in learning and research environments, IT teams must make sure their systems are suited to operate effectively

The virtual classroom continues to be a popular teaching style and option for higher education institutions. Recently, 114 U.S. colleges have delayed return to on-campus classes for the 2022 spring semester, and with many students, teachers, and faculty working outside the classroom, strengthening cyber defenses remains a top priority.

Malware attacks against the education sector have increased by 50% since 2020 – and to better protect systems and personal information, 90% of higher education institutions now have a malware incident recovery plan in place.

The key to organizational resilience is protecting students, faculty, and teachers while empowering them to be as productive and secure at home as they are on campus networks. To achieve this resilience throughout your institution in 2022, IT leaders in education should focus on the following.

Strengthening security

Colleges and universities will continue to adapt to the changes brought on by the pandemic. Many school systems will maintain and evolve hybrid learning, creating a modern classroom approach or what we have termed Educate-from-Anywhere.

To ensure the continuation of campus operations as well as delivering a great student, faculty, and staff experience regardless of location or device, IT teams must make intelligent and vigorous use of modern technology and security practices while preventing disruption of malicious cyber campaigns.

The key to strengthening any organization’s cybersecurity posture is to adopt zero-trust architecture. Outdated systems and traditional networks can allow too many risk factors to seep in and threaten personal data of students, professors, and administrators along with research data stored within operating systems and on networks. Zero trust helps higher education institutions keep information and data more secure by taking extra steps to verify the identity, devices, access, and services students, faculty, researchers, and staff use.

Improving overall user experiences

When evaluating opportunities to strengthen cyber defenses, education IT leaders should focus on improving the remote user experience alongside strengthening security.

For a productive Educate-from-Anywhere experience, students, faculty, and staff require the same level of security and unencumbered access to their applications as they have on campus. The challenge is that while a virtual private network (VPN) is required to access internal applications, users oftentimes will turn off VPN when they experience any issues – sluggish performance or dropped VPN connections – and access the internet and SaaS applications without proper security controls in place.

To avoid that risk, higher education systems should seek a solution that provides a seamless experience for remote users with no need to log in and out; instead, access is continuous regardless of changes to network connectivity, and security is enforced instantly in the cloud. There should be minimal interaction and configuration, allowing users to be protected at all times.

Securing workloads and cloud access

In 2022, higher education institutions will continue to focus on securing workloads and shutting down lateral movement by implementing East/West security controls leveraging micro-segmentation within their datacenter and public cloud environments. They will also work to evaluate and balance on-premises education offerings with hybrid and remote learning. Finally, many institutions will rationalize their cloud management ecosystem – reviewing their cloud software, how it is configured, and what more can be done to ensure the most secure and user-friendly environment possible.

Cybercriminals continue to work on launching new ransomware, sophisticated social engineering campaigns, targeted attacks focused on researchers and research data, and more. Cybercriminals are well aware of the amount of users now learning from home that previously were protected behind a campus network’s security perimeter. By moving security to a globally distributed cloud, education IT teams can gain advanced threat protection, SSL inspection, data loss prevention, sandboxing, remote browser isolation, and cloud access security broker – all needed for a fast, seamless, and secure user experience.

With these ongoing shifts in learning and research environments, IT teams must make sure their systems are suited to operate effectively. By doing so, higher education institutions will ensure the faculty, staff, and student experience is seamless while maintaining cyber defenses – because ultimately, the main priority is ensuring continuity of institution operations.

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