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Cybersecurity Automation in Higher Education

Colleges and universities nationwide have had to rapidly shift their cybersecurity priorities in 2020, thanks in no small part to the global pandemic that has forced many institutions to offer remote learning capabilities. With these changes comes a dramatically increased reliance on the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of university systems that support academic and administrative operations. Given the immense challenges that educational institutions face with their need to secure reliable services for the thousands that rely on it, the ever tightening budgets brought by the pandemic, and their tendency to be targets for ransomware campaigns, it’s no surprise that universities are moving toward automating their cybersecurity programs in an imperative to do more with less.

The Value of Cyber Automation

Automation solves many issues that educational institutions face on a regular basis and reduces the overhead on labor-intensive cybersecurity tasks. Increasing organizational efficiencies is one of the key components of establishing a strong cybersecurity performance baseline while reducing excess spending, which makes it a particularly attractive option for higher education security programs. Specifically, many institutions have moved towards automating identity, authentication, and account management processes as the thousands of students, staff, and faculty requiring account management proves an insurmountable task for non-automated processes. According to a survey conducted by Pulse, 99% of surveyed CIOs anticipate that automating these processes would increase their cybersecurity performance. Additionally, the survey indicates that executives believe automation in higher education would reduce institutional risk (69%), boost confidence in compliance status (65%), and encourage proactive rather than reactive threat detection (59%). It’s clear that CIOs highly value automation in educational environments given their strict budgets, the importance of the student and faculty data that must be protected, and universities’ reliance on robust systems to deliver online learning capabilities.

Budget Constraints

Given the publicly funded nature of many universities, CIOs must be frugal with how they allocate their limited budget, increasing organizational efficiencies wherever possible. According to the Pulse survey, 100% of surveyed CIOs reported that budgeting constraints and existing infrastructure investments were the main factor that prevented them from fully automating their identity management platform. While they may not be able to fully automate their identity management platform due to the large upfront cost, CIOs still recognize the advantages of automation. By automating inefficient tasks, even if the initial cost of the automation is higher than the short-term cost of labor for the inefficient task, over a longer time span the reduced overhead cost pays for itself. And it’s not just about labor, because in this year’s Cost of a Data Breach Report, IBM concluded that organizations who suffer a data breach while having fully deployed cybersecurity automation tools save an average of $3.58 million over those that have no security automation tools. In 2020, IBM found that while the average cost of a data breach incurred by organizations without any deployed automation tools was over $6 million, partial automation deployment brought that cost down to $4.1 million and fully deployed automation tools brought that cost down to $2.45 million.

Continuous Monitoring & Performance Management Automation

This indicates that cybersecurity automation tools are potentially cost saving in that labor isn’t being spent on inefficient tasks, it increases overall baseline cybersecurity performance, and it reduces the financial cost of remedying future data breaches. In most cases, this is at the expense of a high upfront cost, but this is where CnSight has you covered. CnSight helps higher education institutions achieve continuous monitoring and performance management automation with a dedicated platform that will increase organizational efficiencies, target cybersecurity spend on areas that improve baseline performance, and provide executive insight into cybersecurity performance to enhance decision making capabilities around risk.

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