Critical Stepping Stones Towards Digital Transformation in Higher Education

Bruce Macdonald

November 30, 2021

As new realities have forced higher education institutions to move portions of the physical campus online, digital transformation is the only way forward to remain secure and competitive while simultaneously receiving an unprecedented number of cyberattacks. The right technology, such as access management solutions, can protect against attacks while seamlessly and securely reshaping schools’ infrastructure.

Access management solutions including identity access management (IAM) and privileged access management (PAM) are the first steps for higher education to secure long-term viability, success, and protection from hackers. Only when they implement IAM and PAM can they enable new required strategies like Zero Trust to modernize, stay competitive, and combat threats. 

Select and sequence your access management solution with this roadmap.


Step 1: Start With Authentication

Authentication is a “small” step compared to other cybersecurity modernization projects yet yields high ROI and security. The process is easy to map out, making it a great introduction for your leadership team to additional digital transformation projects. 

It can also help address static and the heightened vulnerabilities of locally sourced passwords. Through strategies such as password management, federated single sign-on (SSO), Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), randomizing administrative accounts, just in time (JIT) access, and MFA, you can significantly close cybersecurity gaps in your network. 


Step 2: Build a Foundation With Identity

More than any enterprise organization, colleges and universities have an unmatched level of natural identity turnover between semesters, undergraduate, and graduate programs. Automate identity access management for various resources, including:

  • Accounts
  • Groups 
  • Non-human entities (application, service accounts) 
  • Devices (personal and organization owned)
  • New, added, changed, or moved identities 

This process will relieve the burden on IT teams during a significant transition period. Reorganizing credentials through identity access management (IAM) not only saves IT time on a typically manual and costly task, but it reduces an organization’s attack surface as well.


Step 3: Refine With Privilege Prerequisites

Credentials and privileges are the keys to the cybersecurity kingdom. Unlike most enterprises, many in higher education assume various roles (i.e., graduate students teaching undergraduate courses, undergrads becoming teaching assistants, and more). The complexity of these identities calls for an enhanced privileged access management system that ensures every identity receives the correct privileges and nothing more. 

You can guard your fortress by allowing users the minimum access credentials necessary to perform a specific job or task and nothing more (Principle of Least Privilege). 


Step 4: Finalize With “Verify” Governance Essentials 

Automate, track, constantly fine-tune, and regularly repeat the Identity and Privilege steps. Cybersecurity continuously evolves to meet new standards and prevent attacks — proactively refine your governance essentials to keep your organization out of the ransomware headlines.


Create a Blueprint

Often, decision-makers need a path that resonates with them before they will greenlight a digital transformation project. When colleges and universities embrace these steps, they will establish the identity-based security foundation that these leaders require and reduce cyber threats.

For many schools, identity access management and identity governance solutions have historically been out of reach due to cost. But that is changing. Cutting-edge access management platforms such as Bravura Security Fabric are easy to install and implement while remaining affordable. 

The best platform combined with a complementary partner will help modernize your security systems, moving you towards digital transformation. To find the right vendor for your identity access management and identity governance deployment with valuable, relevant experience, you’ll need to ask the right questions. Get these questions and more by starting your journey with support from our whitepaper, Choosing the Right Vendor Can Be A Gamechanger for Your IAM, IGA, and PAM Selection & Sequencing.


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