Since most colleges have their physical security down pat, then that should mean their cybersecurity is under lock and key, right?
With network hackers growing smarter and threats becoming more inevitable, colleges are accepting that breaches are bound to happen.
However, even though colleges expect the worst to happen to their networks, they should still arm themselves with the best protection strategies.
Greg Harp, the media relations executive for LoudCloud, says that colleges are throwing their data up to servers like the Cloud because of its low cost and space-saving capabilities.
“When you look at that perfect storm, it becomes much more challenging in education to try and protect the network, try to prevent intrusions, and try to protect them from data breaches.”
– Sandeep Kumar, Principal Solution Marketing Manager, ForeScout
He says that a college’s IT department may also choose to run different software and host that software on the school’s network, which creates the need for additional resources.
“Many of these campuses already have space issues and a whole lot of other issues,” Harp says. “So being able to [use] the Cloud saves them that cost, space, the ability to upgrade online rather than a host of consultants trying to come onsite and figure out the customizations they’ve done over the last three years of when they installed that on their network.”
But while the Cloud and other networks solve these problems, they create security issues for the college’s network.
What Makes Hackers Covet College Networks
Deren Chen, Inside Solution Architect for Security at CDW-G says college networks are vulnerable to attacks due to their openness, which means they can support any device.
“If you look at higher education as a whole, these are probably some of the most open networks,” he says. “If you’re staying within a dorm, not only do you bring the device into the dorm, you’re inside the university network. There are so many users, so much information, like social security information, right there for the taking.”
Sandeep Kumar, Principal Solution Marketing Manager, ForeScout says cyber threats on colleges networks are more critical when compared to company networks.
He says this is because colleges have unique device features that reveal three main soft spots for threats to sneak into:
1) BYOD capabilities
“I think higher education is the sector with the highest percentage of personal devices,” Kumar says. “We have customers who have said in the last year, they have gone up to 80 or 90 percent of the devices on the network being personal devices owned by students or faculty. BYOD is not really an option in education.”