Compared to organisations in retail and other commercial areas, colleges and universities encounter unique identity and access management (IAM) issues, especially in today’s digital landscape. The security risks faced by schools and educational institutions are just as high and critical as those in other industries. Colleges and universities deal with overwhelming amounts of personal information that are highly sensitive. These information include the contact data of students, faculty and staff members, in addition to credit, financial and even protected health data. Institutions must adhere to a plethora of compliance regulations and requirements due to the fact that they are tasked to manage and protect massive amounts of confidential information. Having IAM services that are outdated only exacerbates security challenges that schools are already facing.
One of these challenges is managing users with multiple roles and access levels. Users in commercial and retail environments usually hold onto a single role, and their account is assigned a single set of access privileges. It is not very common for a user to hold more than one role at a time, even if their user account privileges may change and differ over time. The same does not apply in higher education as students may sometimes work as faculty members, and staff members may be enrolled as students. With multiple user credentials for work and educational activities being managed, the heavy burden on help desk and IT support teams is inevitable.
With a modern IAM solution in place, tasks such as dealing with user experience problems and resetting forgotten passwords can be overcome, therefore alleviating the burdens on the IT support team. IAM systems designed with higher education in mind can intelligently detect users with more than one role and merged said roles and privileges into a single identity. This also eliminates the challenge of users obtaining the wrong permissions or encountering data synchronisation issues.
The Use of Technology in Classroom Learning
For most colleges and universities, IAM challenges do not cease on registration day. Technology has become integrated in classroom teachings, with many teachers utilising collaborative software, online file-sharing, email and digital content to facilitate their lectures and tutorials. Higher education has come to develop an ever-growing dependence on technology.
Without robust IAM solutions implemented, educational institutions open up security vulnerabilities due to the presence of external vendors and third party software being roped in to enhance teaching. Through IAM capabilities such as automated provisioning of third party applications and software, single sign-on features and multifactor authentication, classroom technologies can be streamlined to create a learning environment that is secure, conducive and efficient.
Manpower and Budget Limitations
Higher education institutions usually have to work with tight budgets when it comes to security and IT support matters. As mentioned previously, modern IAM systems drastically reduce the burden that helpdesk and IT support teams may experience. By cutting down on additional support overhead costs which can be manage by modern IAM solutions, universities and colleges can focus and maximise their budgets on other initiatives that can bring value to these institutions.
Modern IAM enables universities to rely on technology without adding on more responsibilities to their IT department. The potential to improve productivity without compromising on usability serves as excellent leverage for any organisation looking to maximise their IT security budget.