Higher education institutions are in a vulnerable position when it comes to cybersecurity. In an alert issued by the FBI earlier this year, the nation’s top law enforcement agency warned that agents have identified U.S. college and university credentials advertised for sale on the dark web and publicly accessible internet forums.
When breaches occur in higher education, more than just grades are at stake. Students’ personal information could include medical histories, physical addresses and more, and research data from universities is a top target for cybercriminals. It is therefore vital that institutions put proper safeguards in place to protect students, faculty, staff and research teams.
The FBI’s warning also included a recommendation that colleges and universities work with their local field offices to “assist with identifying vulnerabilities.” That’s something CDW’s expert higher education team can help with, in part by offering free security maturity assessments.
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What Is a Security Maturity Assessment?
Security maturity assessments come in a number forms, including free general assessments and other, paid programs that offer more in-depth examinations. Every option takes a holistic look at the defenses a college or university has in place.
The world of cybersecurity is constantly evolving, in no small part because cybercriminals are constantly using new tactics. Policies that were established years or even months ago may be outdated, and a major part of an assessment is checking those policies for inconsistencies to see how and where an attacker could break in.
An assessment of an institution’s cyberdefenses includes ensuring that a proper firewall stack and accompanying applications are in place. The CDW team also goes through a university’s zero-trust framework.
When the assessment is complete, the IT department will receive a thorough written report detailing findings and recommendations for how to close any gaps found in its defenses.
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What Happens After a Security Maturity Assessment
Budgets are top of mind for almost every IT department, and while a security maturity assessment is not expensive, shoring up any potential weaknesses in a college's or university’s cyberdefenses does bring cost into the equation.
Having all available information at your fingertips is vital for making informed financial decisions when the time comes. A security maturity assessment shows IT leaders what they need and, just as important, what they don’t need, and this can help them to make difficult budget calls.
There are some additional services available from CDW as well, such as a zero-dollar pay-as-you-go model that's similar to a hotline. Universities that sign up for this program have a CDW team on standby for when an attack occurs, ready to spring into action to kick the attackers out of the system and start to clean up the damage left behind.
If universities decide to invest in their cyber defenses up front, CDW can help with a full suite of cybersecurity solutions.
Contact a CDW higher education expert to learn more or get started on reinforcing your cybersecurity infrastructure with a security maturity assessment.
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This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.