While colleges and universities may have previous experience with blended learning programs, the ongoing pandemic has thrust schools headfirst into the challenges of operating within a fully digital environment. With this unexpected shift came a variety of obstacles, the most urgent being IT security. With students and teachers scattered throughout the country, and in some cases the world, higher education institutions need security solutions for remote learning that are scalable across disbursed environments.
As higher ed institutions continuously ramp up remote learning initiatives, the need for skilled IT professionals paired with security is ever apparent. According to a recent Gartner report, mobile devices such as tablets, phones, and laptops that students are using for learning are prime targets for bad actors. “Hackers have become much more sophisticated,” said Professor Leona Mitchell, director of the University of Pittsburgh School of Computing. “When you look at cybersecurity, the ramifications of a mistake there are much more serious.”
To defend the virtual climate, schools should look to trusted security partners. “It’s vital that colleges and universities find the security solutions that work for their environment and can continue to protect data as students rely on remote learning,” said Debbie Hall, Solutions Architect for State, Local & Education with Red Hat. “Paired with skilled IT professionals, higher education institutions will be set up for success today and in the future.”
However, finding the right IT employees to run these solutions can be difficult. According to a recent report, there are currently over 4 million unfilled IT jobs and 65 percent of respondents state they are lacking proper IT staff. “There’s a huge demand for more people in the workforce who are focused on cybersecurity,” said Chengcheng Li, an associate professor at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Information Technology. “It’s an area of concern for every business today.”
The lack of IT professionals ready to handle security threats, paired with the increased threat vectors in remote learning environments, showcases the need for an experienced partner that offers scalable, resource-friendly solutions. “As we define the “new normal” shaped by the pandemic, it’s vital that colleges and universities continue to prioritize security. Finding the right partner can make implementing new solutions, handling security issues, and bolstering your overall cyber posture much more manageable,” said Hall.
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