How Higher Education Can Combat Hackers with IAM Automation

Bruce Macdonald

October 15, 2020

It’s no secret that cybersecurity threats are on the rise for colleges and universities. With their vast wealth of personal information, extensive pools of research, and ever-growing collections of data, higher education is a tantalizing target for cyber attacks and the increase in breaches has been reported for years.

While there’s no one reason for the increase, automation has certainly played a role. We are not referring to a school using automation, but rather, hackers automating their attacks. Whether they’re slowing sifting data or breaking in with brute force, cybercriminals are taking full advantage of these technologies. Automation is accelerating these threats, putting higher education at increased risk every day. 

Use IAM Automation to Combat Hackers

How can schools defend themselves against these automated attacks? The answer is in the question — fight automation with automation. Yet despite having access to the same automation advancements utilized by hackers, many colleges and universities still use manual, outdated and often homegrown IAM solutions. 

To make matters more challenging, many of the barriers to automation for higher education are built on the incorrect belief that systems need to be full of clean, organized data before implementing an automated IAM system. The truth is automation can help schools efficiently organize their systems. By automating their IAM solutions, colleges and universities can get ahead of these challenges and fortify their systems in critical ways.

Reduce Human Error

The number one cause of IAM system vulnerabilities is (and probably always will be) human error. Whether it’s incorrect access privileges, a lingering orphan account, or poor password practices, the smallest of mistakes can become a big problem. By formalizing and automating privileges, passwords, and more, schools can significantly shore up their systems. While automation won’t eliminate human error entirely, it can decrease the opportunities for those small, avoidable, yet problematic mistakes.

Adapt More Quickly to an Ever-changing Cyber Threat Landscape

Keeping pace with the rate of technological advancement is a challenge under any circumstance. When those improvements are also working against you (i.e., enabling new ways for threat actors to take advantage of system vulnerabilities) it can seem absolutely impossible. By automating critical (and otherwise tedious) tasks, schools can free up resources to combat these dynamic threats and stay a step ahead of future ones.

Make Room for Innovation

Strong cybersecurity requires time and resources — especially when most of it’s manual. Schools that still rely on homegrown IAM solutions often spend countless hours patching problems as they arise. This is inefficient, unsustainable, and leaves no room for growth or innovation. By introducing automation, colleges and universities not only shore up their systems, they also take countless maintenance tasks off their teams’ plates. This frees up time to focus on system improvements, scaling opportunities, and more.

One of the top technology challenges for colleges and universities continues to be combating cyber attacks. The barrage is on the rise, boosted in part by automation. As threats become increasingly more complex, the solution is staring schools in the face. By automating IAM systems, schools can strengthen their systems with a scalable solution to better protect their most valuable data now — and for years to come.