A Balancing Act: How Privileged Access Management Provides Security and Convenience in a Remote Learning World

Bryan Christ

September 1, 2020

As digital classrooms increasingly become the norm and learning difficulties arise in the transition to virtual, higher education must evolve the student experience and educational outcomes, but they are held back by poorly integrated IT portfolios.

This is further complicated by complex university-specific roadblocks such as ever-changing populations, overlapping roles and identity sources, non-hierarchical organizational structures, dynamic and collaborative partnerships, and legacy and homegrown solutions (that often offer substandard IT infrastructure). Therefore, the number of point to point connections, passwords, and accounts and levels of access between systems increases exponentially, raising complexity and security issues. 

Moreover, Covid-19 has exacerbated outlying remote learning factors such as diverse student expectations, perceived value under pressure, competing consumer IT realities, and online education competition. 

These obstacles, both internal and external, make change difficult and many higher educational institutions face these intimidating elements without a roadmap. Instead, universities navigating these realities should wrap their new remote learning portfolios with the convenience and versatility of privileged access management (PAM), the security of single sign-on, and the control of access governance.

The Solution: Privileged Access Management for Convenience and Security at Scale 

PAM secures access to elevated privileges and eliminates the need for shared and static passwords to privileged accounts. Furthermore, it enforces strong authentication and authorization to applications before granting access. All of these features wrap into the security and convenience of single sign on and access governance control. 

Some high-level features that secure university IT infrastructure without sacrificing convenience include:

Credential, team vaults

  • Credential vaults maintain data and access to privileged passwords across a variety of systems. Team vaults allow for the creation of easily scalable groups and different types of credential access across more extensive networks. 
  • Even in an entirely remote learning-enabled campus, access to this vault is imperative to maintain campus-wide network and service capabilities in the event of a server-side disaster (such as a fire, flood, or power outage). Privileged accounts are necessary to make that recovery possible. 
  • Since servers occasionally break down, Privileged Access Manager supports load balancing and data replication between multiple application servers and numerous credential vaults. 
  • When everything is dependent on virtual classroom connectivity, convenience, and accessibility, built-in replication ensures your institution will maintain minimal network downtime and uninterrupted privileged account access in times of need. This capability provides resilience across complex and ever-changing populations and overlapping schedules and roles in an all or nothing distance learning network.  


  • Privileged Access Manager can fingerprint applications before granting access to passwords. It utilizes an included web services API to onboard and removes systems and applications to interact with workflow requests and retrieves passwords if authorized on-the-fly.
  • Architectures will change at a rapid pace with the addition of new components and subtraction of older modules. This flexibility will provide authorization and authentication at a versatile speed and allow for higher ed remote learning scale. 

Single sign-on, access governance control

  • A secured, singular point of access grants entry to unified communication and the network platform, which grants appropriate levels and privileges to each user across thousands of accounts. Additionally, by rendering SSH and RDP sessions in a browser, PAM empowers users who are offsite or work for third parties to launch on their PC or smartphone regardless of platform.
  • The consolidated system provides administrators with dynamic and adaptable access governance control over non-hierarchical organizational structures and dynamic and collaborative partnerships that so often happen in distance learning network scenarios and across other higher education initiatives.

Student, faculty, staff, and data security remain a paramount concern as Covid-19 pressures push higher educational institutions towards remote or hybrid learning environments.  Universities must evolve dynamically to meet the demands of a distance learning world. Privileged access management provides that needed versatility, security, control, and scale at value.