Anna just started her freshman year at her dream school. Nervous and excited to start her college journey, she has many things on her mind, such as arriving at her 8:00 a.m. class on time, finding the perfect study group and acing English 101. As with many daughters off to live on campus, her parents talked to her about campus security until she couldn’t help but roll her eyes. But the one looming thing that isn’t on Anna’s mind is the security on her college’s network.

For her university, however, cybersecurity is of utmost importance. Today’s students, like Anna, are constantly online. Whether posting or checking Instagram updates, studying or conducting research, student cyber habits have the potential to put schools at risk for attacks.

In 2015, SonicWALL firewalls blocked 8.19 billion attack attempts. Our 2016 Threat Report found that email/phishing, website downloads, portable devices and text messaging were top methods of malware delivery.

Without realizing it, Anna and her fellow college students are ideal targets for hackers to gain access to network resources. Unfortunately, IT attacks on schools are only becoming more frequent. An April 2016 report identified education as the third most frequently breached sector, with more than 5,000,000 identities exposed in 2015. Costing as much as $300 per breach, that adds up to a lot of unnecessary spending - and a student population at risk.

Higher education’s unique challenges, including student cyber habits, create vulnerabilities that make a holistic approach to security critical. Such an approach keeps both the user and the university’s best interests in mind, enabling open web access and support of the growing number of personal devices, while still protecting all of the institution’s networks, endpoints and data, and simplifying compliance.

Holistic security governs and protects information with a combination of robust identity and access management (IAM) and network security practices. While IAM ensures users have access only to the information they need for their role within the university, next-generation firewalls monitor the network for abnormal behavior, alerting administrators when that access is potentially being abused.

With network-aware identity solutions and identity-aware network solutions, the capabilities of these solutions are united and administrators can adjust access based on context and abnormal behavior. As a result, information remains safe, even as students and universities leverage major IT trends, such as cloud, mobility and the IoT. For administrators, this holistic approach also makes it easy to audit and track user behavior, ensuring compliance with necessary data protection regulations.

Empowered and protected with the right security in place, today’s students have the ability to learn in new ways and accomplish more than ever before.

I’ll be covering the issues discussed above in more detail at the Campus Technology 2016 conference in Boston on August 3 in the breakout session “Enable Better Student Outcomes without Sacrificing Security.” I’ll be joined by Brian Kelly, CISO at Quinnipiac University. Brian will show you  how Quinnipiac leveraged and maximized the value of existing technologies to secure its campus from cyber threats.

Interested in learning more? Our integrated One Identity and SonicWALL network security solutions can help higher-education institutions increase security, enable innovation and better address their students’ – like Anna – needs. Find out how your university can say Yes to transforming security into an IT innovation enabler:

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