Preventing Data Breaches with Managed Cybersecurity Services in Higher Education

It’s the call you hate to get: “We have been hacked.”

Increasingly, higher education institutions are dealing with cyberattacks. Nearly two-thirds of colleges and universities have been the target of ransomware, and 74% of those attacks were successful in encrypting data.

However, that’s just the beginning.

Education and research is one of the most targeted sectors, with the average institution fending off a stunning 2,507 attacks weekly in 2023—a 15% increase from the prior year.

Despite investments in technology and IT personnel, many colleges and universities are also dealing with significant labor shortages. Nearly three-quarters of campus leaders say they are having a moderate or severe challenge with their IT staffing. Institutions are often understaffed and overwhelmed in managing cybersecurity.

Managed cybersecurity services in higher education provide another layer of security, helping to prevent data breaches and disruptions while providing some relief for IT teams.

What Is a Higher Education Managed Cybersecurity Service?

A higher education managed cyber security service is a third-party provider that can help protect campus networks and resources. There are several models that institutions employ, including managed security service providers (MSSPs), managed detection and response (MDR) providers, and security operations center as a Service (SOCaaS). Depending on who you choose and the level of support you require, you may get some or all of these services rolled into one.

Managed cybersecurity services in higher education can augment your IT staff or manage your entire cybersecurity—from 24/7 monitoring to virtual chief information security officers (CISOs) that can oversee the entire IT footprint. Services typically include the following:

Network Protection

Constant monitoring for suspicious activity and threat detection generally includes intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), endpoint security, next-generation firewalls, and security information and event management (SIEM). By scanning and alerting for potentially malicious events, managed cybersecurity services in higher education can help identify, isolate, and mitigate attacks.

Such services can also scan systems for vulnerabilities and present solutions to proactively eliminate security gaps. This is crucial as threat actors are constantly evolving their attacks and finding new exploits. A surprising number of data breaches come from simple security lapses, such as failing to update software and apply patches to known security gaps. An MSSP can help ensure your software is up-to-date and apply patches as soon as they are available.

Compliance and Privacy

Providers can ensure you comply with the wide range of data security and privacy regulations regarding sensitive data, including PCI DSS, HIPAA, and FERPA. They can also provide encryption to help secure student records, financial information, research data, and more.

Optimization and Training

A higher education managed cybersecurity service can help in two other key areas. By conducting formal security assessments, providers can identify areas for improvement to help you improve your security posture.

Many managed cybersecurity providers also provide training resources for students, faculty, and staff to reduce the risk of human error. A Stanford research study reports that 88% of data breaches are caused by employee mistakes.

Benefits of a Higher Education Managed Cybersecurity Service

Besides securing your networks and assets, having a managed cybersecurity service can help you reduce costs by providing access to expert security resources and tools. MSSPs are staffed by cybersecurity experts and specialists who are highly trained in identifying, isolating, and eliminating various types of threats. Few IT staffs have this depth of resources available, and finding specialists after an attack occurs can be extremely expensive.

If a cyberattack occurs, you want experts ready to respond quickly and effectively to minimize the damage. IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report put the average cost of a data breach in the higher education sector at $3.65 million. Preventing a single breach can pay for MSSP services for the foreseeable future.

Cooperative Purchasing Agreements for Managed Cybersecurity Services in Higher Education

When it comes to cybersecurity, you need a robust, reliable solution to safeguard your network and your assets. E&I Cooperative Services provides competitively solicited cooperative purchasing agreements where you can find managed security service providers at a lower cost. By aggregating the group buying power of 6,000 member institutions, E&I Cooperative Services regularly achieves substantial savings that individual colleges and universities would be unable to achieve on their own.

E&I Cooperative Services is the only member-owned, non-profit sourcing cooperative that focuses exclusively on education. Membership is free and there is no obligation to use contracts or minimum purchasing levels required.

Contact E&I Cooperative Services today to view available contracts and the full benefits of membership.


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