Tackle Higher Education's Changing Environment With IAM & PAM

Bruce Macdonald

October 5, 2021

In the classroom, higher education institutions are looking toward the future with their curricula, stretching young minds around evolving concepts and advancements. The irony? Behind the scenes, these same institutions are often unprepared for the changes that developing technology brings to their campuses and networks. Recent digital disruptions have exposed the systems many higher education institutions have in place. In many cases, these are aged and ill-equipped to defend against today’s threats. 

Modernization and digital transformation are required, and as colleges and universities embrace digital ecosystems, access management processes and technology can guide your digital strategy.

Identity access management (IAM) and privileged access management (PAM) implementation creates a methodology across authentication, identity, privilege, and governance.  This winning combination creates access management synergy and an optimal experience for students, staff, and alumni where IAM manages identity and PAM secures it. This hybrid 360-degree approach is required to remain competitive in today’s higher education landscape and lays the groundwork for comprehensive and secure modernization on a number of fronts.


Combat Growing Cyber Attacks

In 2021, the education vertical saw 1332 incidents and 344 breaches with authenticated data disclosure. The previous year? Education services experienced 819 incidents and 228 breaches with confirmed data disclosure. This growth represents a 61% increase in incidents and over a 66% increase in breaches from the year before. It’s clear the move toward remote access scenarios and digital ecosystems in the aftershocks of the last few years has exposed educational institutions to increased risk.

Schools can protect themselves against threats by staying ahead with identity access management including identity governance and privileged access management. Many higher education cybersecurity strategies involve damage control from exposure in an environment without access management and expected risk. By removing many manual tasks and static passwords, institutions can shift cybersecurity strategies from reactive to proactive. 

You can take another step forward by adding predictive analytics and technology. At the heart of cutting-edge access management solutions, these powerful tools can anticipate and forecast complications before hackers exploit them. Higher education institutions can further fortify these efforts with risk and threat assessment, plus resolution recommendations, ultimately moving away from reactive to proactive risk avoidance strategies.


Tackle Evolving Regulations and Compliance Requirements

Many universities spend a lot of time and money on certification and governance initiatives, but their compliant state will not last without automation measures in effect. This creates only a point in time panacea that will be obsolete virtually the next day. IAM automation and identity administration strategies ensure rights are assigned and removed promptly, maintaining compliance without the need for manual interventions. Modern systems also automate the role review process and provide access for auditors, saving many hours of reporting and study.

Predictive analysis of users’ needs will then help reduce the number of generated requests. An efficient workflow engine at the center of an access management solution guarantees that you are provisioned on time even if human approval is required.


Execute Zero Trust

The future of cybersecurity is Zero Trust architectures as IT environments have become more fluid, open, and vulnerable. More organizations are turning away from conventional methods such as VPN to keep their networks secure, with many implementing Zero Trust. This security approach addresses the new network landscape by trusting no one. The identity and integrity of every user and every device must be authenticated without respect to location.

While colleges and universities may not have the capacity to sprint towards Zero Trust architecture, taking crucial first steps, like network and inventory audits, can lay the foundation for success. Investing in IAM and PAM solutions that enable strong integration (for input and output) will allow institutions to scale more efficiently, add tools and features, and implement initiatives like Zero Trust when they’re ready.


Look to the Horizon

An access management process and technology modernization can help you respond to higher education's ever-changing landscape, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. You can also meet higher ed's unique challenges and reclaim hundreds of hours for your IT leadership to spend on more strategic projects.

Get actionable steps on how to prepare a practical approach to modernize your access management solution at our in-person workshop and online panel discussion at the Educause Annual Conference 2021.

Measure your vendor risk with the Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Toolkit (HECVAT) from the Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC), a questionnaire framework specially designed for higher education institutions. 

Explore identity access management (including identity governance) and privileged access management's role in creating change and learn how to modernize with our eBook: Choosing a Modern Access Management and Governance Solution for Higher Education.

Download eBook now