Educational Institutions Need to Rethink Network Security and Modernization

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Mansoor AlShalahi, Country Manager for Saudi Arabia at Infoblox

By: Mansoor AlShalahi, Country Manager for Saudi Arabia at Infoblox

The pandemic has forced many industries, including educational organizations to transform the way that they operate. Educational institutions need to ensure that online or emergency remote teaching and learning doesn’t fall short of expectations or negatively impact the desired academic outcomes, and must therefore keep their businesses running even during a pandemic. With malware and other disruptors becoming an increasing threat to the network infrastructure of educational institutions, it is important to look at the essential steps that these organizations need to take to make the internet a safer and better place for students and faculty.

Protecting the Learning Environment through Secured Network Infrastructure 

COVID-19 resulted in shift from physical learning to digital learning, and this is the ideal environment for cybercriminals to wreak havoc. Educational institutions need to act now to implement strategies and technologies that will enable them to both protect their students and staff and maintain an uninterrupted and safe learning environment.

Implementing a strong layer of foundational security is the first step. As a start, DDI (DNS, DHCP and IPAM solutions sheds light on previously undetected network activities wherever a device might sit. This allows educational organisations to take back control by plugging visibility gaps that other tools miss and extends security from the core of the network to the edges. To add to this, over 90 percent of malware touches DNS – the first D in DDI – when entering or leaving the network. This makes DNS a critical detection tool that can pinpoint threats at the earliest stages and identify compromised machines. Ultimately, DDI enables IT teams in public sector organisations to quickly detect and fix vulnerabilities, no matter where they originate. 

Creating a Security-Focused Educational Environment 

While cybersecurity has traditionally been seen as a “nice to have” by many of these organisations, it has swiftly and undeniably become a necessity. With the advent of hybrid infrastructure, our new borderless environment requires a strong approach to security. Security strategies need to be baked into any network architecture and embedded into any project. Cybersecurity in higher education is more challenging than in a typical corporation because universities have a long heritage of an open, collaborative culture. In addition, as many educational institutes are sustaining their IT infrastructure with limited staff and resources, getting an end-to-end security team can be an enormous task. This is where starting with network modernization for better visibility can help. 

As the battle against COVID wages on, educational organisations still have to cover a lot of ground to overcome the challenges of remote learning. But, the sad truth is that cybercriminals don’t pause their activity because of a global pandemic. Instead, as the last year has evidenced, they take advantage of the chaos to target new victims and make a profit. No organisation is immune. With schools’ IT networks now stretching far beyond the campus grounds, cybersecurity needs to scale.