In the past few years, a digital transformation has taken place in virtually every aspect of life . . . how we work, how we shop, how we go to the doctor, how we teach and learn, and more. When the pandemic hit, this accelerated technology had an extreme impact on higher education. Colleges and universities had to redefine priorities and adapt to the “new normal.” As a result, remote learning and teaching is here to stay, further reinforcing the importance of digital transformation for higher education. The quest for resilience, agility, and continuity manifests itself in digital transformation processes, including adopting hybrid cloud strategies for learning and working, and enabling the virtualization of the workforce, operations, study planning, and facility management. The collaborative culture of colleges and universities requires a multi-layered network infrastructure with many levels of access and connectivity.

Students, in general, tend to be major consumers of bandwidth for games, videos, and sports programming, sometimes utilizing unauthorized bandwidth to access online content. With thousands of students simultaneously relying on online education and services alongside the university’s need for reliable operations, admissions, facility management, and proper planning and accounting for the use of applications, it is essential to manage network traffic properly.

As cyber-attacks on higher education institutions have increased in numbers and sophistication, the need for cybersecurity planning, education, and training has never been more critical. Data breaches, hacking and malware infusions threaten student and employee identities, but potential impacts don’t stop there. There can be impacts to operations, reputation of the institution, financial impacts, and in some cases, privacy and national security concerns. Today, there are compliance requirements by local, state and Federal agencies that seek to reduce these attacks by requiring safeguards and standards to ensure the privacy, security, and confidentiality of personally identifiable information and/or information assets in general. During a recent speaking engagement, Ms. Anne Neuberger, the National Security Council’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, discussed the Biden administration’s focus on developing new cybersecurity regulations for the education sector.

Chief Information Security Offices (CISOs) of colleges and universities are responsible for protecting, securing and storing a massive amount of personal information including financial aid applications, sensitive research data, intellectual property, information within online learning portals, operational data and more. This confidential information is at risk from a variety of cyber-attacks to obtain this valuable information. Common threats include: cloud security vulnerabilities, denial of service (DoS), malware, phishing, ransomware, and unsecured personal devices.

The massive transition to online learning and working has increased the number of digital interfaces dramatically, enlarging the attack surface and leading to higher vulnerability to cyber disruption. Involved IT departments must be prepared to safeguard the network and minimize downtime caused by DoS attacks and other cyber threats. Colleges and universities must ensure complete visibility and stricter control over their networks to accommodate the significant increase in online learning and online services provision. To increase student success, employee satisfaction, and overall productivity, excellent digital experiences are critical. Therefore, college and university IT departments must be able to monitor and ensure a positive end-user digital experience.

Traffic Management Tools Provide Network Traffic Intelligence That Give Complete Visibility

But, how do higher education institutions control all of this new network activity and keep it operating smoothly and safe from cyber-attacks? Networks have to be monitored carefully and constantly to achieve desired security and usability characteristics. This is where Braxton-Grant Technologies can help. Through our partnership with ALLOT, we can provide a solution that manages network traffic, provides protection against cyber-attacks, and provides an enhanced user experience. Allot’s Traffic Intelligence and Assurance Platform provides a 360° view of network traffic and the digital experience that students (on campus premises or in dormitories) and employees (in local or remote branches) get from the college or university data center. The Allot Traffic Intelligence Platform virtually partitions the university LAN, WAN, and internet resources so that users and applications no longer compete with one another for
bandwidth and Quality of Service (QoS). The Allot platform also has the capability to track a student’s highly popular recreational data usage, which might otherwise go unnoticed. Integration with Microsoft Active Directory provides traffic intelligence per user, so IT personnel can better understand how employees consume university applications and network resources.

Working with a Managed Security Services Provider like Braxton-Grant can be the support you need to assess your networks and infrastructure and provide a solution to meet your requirements and budget. As a trusted IT advisor, we create the best solution for you at any phase of your traffic management implementation, ensuring network efficiency optimization.

Braxton-Grant can audit/assess your current cybersecurity systems, review as a third-party, make recommendations to increase application performance and elevate network security with additional enhancements for network efficiency. We will help you align with other compliance requirements such as NIST, CMMC, or HIPAA. We are here to implement quickly, identify and resolve hidden gaps in your network, and improve network health and performance. When you truly know what’s happening on your network, you can make better business decisions for your higher learning institution.

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