How Higher Education Cybersecurity Solutions Support Zero Trust Architecture

Just the thought of a data breach can give you a start. If a breach occurs, it triggers an emotional reaction and raises plenty of questions. What happened, and how bad is it? How long will it take to fix it? How much will it cost? How much data has been compromised? Will I lose my job?

Even if you’ve done everything right, the answers to these questions can cause a lot of sleepless nights.

When you hear about a data breach at another college or university, your first reaction may be that you’re glad it didn’t happen to you. However, it’s not a matter of if you will be attacked, but when and how often.

When things go smoothly and your systems run properly, you’re not likely to get accolades from your colleagues, but when someone breaches your defenses, you will hear about it. We think it’s better to play the role of the unsung hero than be at the center of the firestorm when a cybersecurity breach occurs. Everyone that has played a role in sourcing, procuring, implementing, and executing the cybersecurity plan may get caught up in the fallout.

Preventing cyber-attacks from being successful requires proactive measures. One of the most powerful cybersecurity frameworks you can put in place is zero trust network access (ZTNA).

What Is Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)?

Zero trust network access creates a boundary around your computer systems, applications, and other network resources. ZTNA employs strict authorization for every section of your network, restricting access only to those with the right privileges to access.

Resources are hidden from those without access, and policies restrict movement within systems. So, even if a threat actor penetrates your network, they may be unable to see what else is available to hack or move laterally within your system. This significantly reduces your attack surface and risk.


Many organizations have relied on virtual private networks (VPNs) to create secure tunnels when connecting remotely to systems, but VPNs only prevent unauthorized access to your network. Once someone gets inside your perimeter, VPNs provide no additional protection. So, threat actors with stolen passwords can bypass VPNs and have free rein.

For this reason, Gartner predicts that 70% of organizations that allow remote access will deploy ZTNA by 2025.

Implementing ZTNA Architecture

Higher education systems are complex, mixing legacy equipment and older systems with newer devices and an ever-growing number of endpoints. Many of the systems and applications pre-date today’s remote connectivity and provide a huge number of potential entry points for cybercriminals.

ZTNA architecture overlays your entire infrastructure, applying robust security and access management to prevent breaches. A managed service provider of cybersecurity for education can help you implement ZTNA architecture even in the most complex and challenging IT environments.

Building ZTNA security requires multiple layers of protection. Secure access service edge (SASE) unifies SD-WAN and network security solutions into a centralized service. It can bring together a variety of tools including:

  • Software-defined perimeter (SDP)
  • Microsegmentation
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • Single sign-on (SSO)
  • Intrusion prevention and detection systems (IPS/IDS)
  • Next-generation firewalls

Higher Education Cybersecurity Contracts

In procurement, you need to ensure any higher education cyber security contracts for hardware, software, or cloud services will support ZTNA. Look for evidence of:

  • ZTNA/Zero Trust Commitments: Spells out the vendor’s specific capabilities around providing ZTNA architecture access controls.
  • Authentication Methods: Ensures support for modern authentication protocols like SAML, OIDC, and OAuth.
  • Granular Policy Controls: Provides the ability to set detailed context-aware access policies with micro-level segmentation.
  • Encryption: Details encryption methods and strengths for data both in transit and at rest.
  • Auditing/Logging: Mandates detailed access and event logging for auditing and maintaining visibility.
  • Third-Party Integrations: Lists critical integrations with network infrastructure to enable ZTNA.
  • Security Standards: Allows validation of compliance with standards like ISO 27001 and SOC2, Type 2 relevant to ZTNA.
  • Support SLAs: Covers issue response times, resolution, and training related to zero trust capabilities.

When sourcing managed service provider cybersecurity for education, make sure that ZTNA is part of their DNA. Any cybersecurity service should have robust zero-trust principles baked into the solution.

How E&I Cooperative Services Can Help

E&I Cooperative Services can help you find ZTNA-compatible tools and managed service providers for cybersecurity in education, quickly and cost-effectively. E&I Cooperative Services is a member-owned, nonprofit purchasing cooperative that focuses solely on the education sector. By leveraging the buying power of 6,000 member institutions, E&I Cooperative Services secures competitively solicited, ready-to-use contracts at significant savings.

Contact E&I Cooperative Services to view higher education cyber security contracts today.


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