Education institutions, year on year, continue to be affected by cybersecurity threats. This problem affects both large and small education institutions, however, large institutions have potentially more to lose due to the volume of sensitive data they store.
According to a study by a non-profit association of IT leaders in higher education, EDUCAUSE, information security is the biggest issue for education institutions for the third year in a row.
Insider threats remain a constant and prevalent threat in the education sector due to the growing complexity of infrastructure and technology and the rapidly growing volume and value of data. Knowing this, you would expect that educational institutions are taking the necessary steps to bolster their data security.
Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. It’s not easy to deal with students who are often the dangerous combination of tech-savvy and “devil may care” when it comes to security practices. That being said, there are some simple things that educational institutions can do to improve data security.
Take Steps Towards Proactivity
The Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC) believe that getting proactive is one of the most important things that educational institutions can do to improve security. One prominent CISO at the University of California commented that, “we need to decide where we’re going and what our end game is. And we need to develop sustainable strategies to get there.”
What this essentially means for data security is changing the culture to put data security at the forefront of all decisions. It can be hard to overcome the current culture problem as IT staff in the larger organizations have a tendency to believe security is the domain of the security operations team, instead of all members of the organization (let alone the entire IT team).
Focus on the User
At Lepide, we understand that users present the biggest risk to your data security. Many of them probably already have access to your most sensitive data. Therefore, detecting whether these users have accessed this data or abused their privilege in any way can be very difficult.
All sorts of businesses, not just educational institutions, struggle with visibility over who has access to their data and what their users are doing with it. In the education sector, the sharing of ideas and easy access to information is actively encouraged, which brings with its additional challenges associated with insider threats, data security and data integrity.
Spot the Anomalies
One of the biggest things that educational institutions can do to simplify the detection and response to security threats is through the automation of anomaly spotting.
Now, before we get into this, it’s worth noting that this can only realistically be achieved by deploying a solution that is able to automate this process for you. But, don’t fear, there are many platforms on the market today that offer this functionality and more, and they won’t break the bank.
Being able to detect whenever your users make changes that they wouldn’t usually make or access files they wouldn’t usually access will help you speed up the detection of potential security breaches. Spotting anomalies in user behavior quickly will help you take immediate steps to remediate unwanted or potentially damaging changes. Many solutions will even be able to automate response upon the detection of anomalies that pose a threat to security.
In general, being able to automate the auditing, analysis, reporting and alerting of interactions with your data is the best way to improve data security.