SCC and Cisco: Zero Trust Security in Higher Education

Security challenges in higher education are uniquely different due to the diverse user groups that require various network access privileges and one of the highest rates of people bringing their own device onto the network. Therefore, universities require a comprehensive approach to security, particularly with so much sensitive, personal and financial data at risk.

With students, faculty, alumni, researchers, and other users requiring high bandwidth access on their own devices from anywhere on campus, universities must secure access from end-user devices, APIs, IoT, microservices, containers, and more. As universities grow and attract and retain greater numbers of students from home and abroad, the number of devices and complexity in keeping the network secure grows, too.

Universities are also particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which have become more prevalent and sophisticated during the Covid-19 pandemic. The number and regularity of malicious attacks by cyber criminals has increased throughout the crisis, as they look take advantage of significant disruption and seize the opportunity arising from rushed response measures and exposed IT systems.

With Covid-19 disrupting the academic year and forcing universities to close their doors, requiring staff to work from home and students to rely on collaborative tools for distant learning, security concerns have grown as remote network access has increased and reliance on users to remain more vigilant than ever is critical.

Research by SCC has found that end user device security has become a bigger concern to senior IT professionals, with more than double saying it is a key focus since coronavirus hit. Cyber security and identity and access management have also become more pressing priorities for organisations including universities.

One way SCC is helping universities is by working with Cisco to deliver its Zero Trust approach to protecting access to all applications, for any user and device, from anywhere. It’s designed to be easy to use and deploy, while providing complete endpoint visibility and control.

Cisco Zero Trust combines security expertise with a user-centered philosophy to provide multi-factor authentication (MFA), endpoint remediation and secure single sign-on tools. It enables the policies and control required to limit access based on endpoint or user risk, whilst users get a consistent login experience with single sign-on that delivers centralised access to both on-premises and cloud applications.

The security framework helps universities prevent unauthorised access, contain breaches, and reduce the risk of an attacker’s lateral movement through their network. It helps protect organisations by consistently enforcing policy-based controls, giving visibility into users, devices, components, and more across the entire environment, and providing detailed logs, reports, and alerts that can help better detect and respond to threats.

Cisco Zero Trust deploys to all BYOD users, protecting all devices on the network quickly and easily, whilst reducing adoption barriers through a streamlined interface and self-enrolment process that reduces the burden on IT admins to get users enrolled. It saves money and enables organisations to defend against phishing attacks.

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