Education’s digital transformation informs the need for protection. Softcat’s Education Team headed out to the Jisc Security Conference 2022 and discovered a growing need for investment in this vital sector’s cyber security.
For the first time in three years, we were able to visit the Jisc Security Conference and meet with other members and industry representatives in person. It was great to see how, like the higher education market it represents, the event took advantage of the virtual technology that has become so much a part of our everyday lives.
The first two days were in-person at the ICC Wales, where exhibitors could display their latest wares and innovations alongside presentations and break-out sessions. Day three was wholly online where even more delegates could participate and engage with the priority topics of cyber security.
It was a real eye-opener.
Education at heart
The Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc) is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to technology research and innovation in the further and higher education sector.
The agency looks to improve education and research through technology.
Jisc falls in line with many of the themes we’ve been addressing here at Softcat: the need for improved sustainability, automation and embracing the changing face of education as it utilises the hybrid working model.
The need for investment
While the education sector doesn’t succumb to cyber attacks any more than other businesses, it does suffer differently. Universities particularly are victims of espionage rather than the more common malware or ransomware attacks.
What is key though, is that education has invested considerably less in cyber security than other industries. This means education institutions are more at risk than most.
One important focus of discussion was the need for a holistic approach to security. This falls in line with our approach to education technology at Softcat.
To be secure, an institution’s system needs to be up to date in all its aspects. Areas we’ve discussed before – automation, survivability, risk assessment, and operational resilience – all play a part in keeping data secure.
Defending as one
Central to this holistic approach is the need for the people, the staff and the students, to be fully trained and aware of the risks. The conference highlighted this perfectly.
Under the ‘Sharing is Caring’ theme, we heard hair-raising accounts of attacks on universities, and the resulting advice that arises from bitter experience.
We also looked at the challenges involved in using multi-cloud environments and the need for cyber resilience, and how simple it can be to prepare with the right threat intelligence.
A fourth theme was that of the ‘zero-trust’ model. Openness and access to information globally is crucial for educational institutions. So how can we balance this with a zero-trust security system?
The Softcat solution
It goes without saying that cyber security is of vital importance to Softcat’s Education Team. Taking the holistic approach is exactly what we’ve always done when it comes to strategic security considerations.
We work with institutions to gain the deepest possible understanding of the systems involved and how best to fill any gaps there might be, whether in terms of resources or skills needed.
For us, it’s important to offer tangible results to the education sector.
We’re also aware that educators are focused on educating and therefore, many IT issues, such as cyber security, can get overlooked. This is where Softcat comes in.
If you are experiencing any issues whether raised here or otherwise, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your Softcat Account Manager.