Helping Higher Education Meet EDUCAUSE 2022 Top 10 IT Priorities

Each year, EDUCAUSE releases a list of IT issues likely to be priorities for higher education institutions in the year ahead. Palo Alto Networks pays close attention to these lists because it helps us determine how we can best support the evolving needs of our customers in higher education. The 2022 Top 10 IT Issues list from EDUCAUSE shows that we have an opportunity to provide meaningful solutions for helping higher education institutions on several fronts in the year ahead.

Last year, EDUCAUSE’s Top 10 IT issues focused on three scenarios for higher education, based on pandemic-related disruption and the 2022 lineup builds on those themes. We’ve identified several top issues on EDUCAUSE’s new list (#1, #2, #5 and #8) where Palo Alto Networks is especially well-positioned to provide the vision, thought leadership and partnerships to help higher education institutions address their mission-critical IT challenges:

EDUCAUSE Top IT Issue #1:
“Cyber Everywhere! Are We Prepared?”

EDUCAUSE identified data protection and security as a top focus for higher education in 2022, and emphasized that institutions will need to develop processes, controls, infrastructure and workforce skills to keep data safe and promote supply chain integrity.

It’s not surprising to see these issues topping the list. Cyberattacks in education are rising, and the bottom-line costs of these incidents are growing, too. There have been at least 29 major attacks against the education sector in 2021. It is estimated that the financial impact of ransomware on education, including downtime, lost opportunity and ransoms paid, amounted to $2.73 million. To make matters worse, only about one-third of the institutions that paid ransoms got their data back.

How We Can Help

While many people think of Palo Alto Networks only as a firewall company, we’re actually a full security lifecycle company. From the latest threat research delivered by our Unit 42 team (incident response capabilities, tabletop exercises, breach preparedness and more) we offer the breadth and depth of technologies and expertise to secure your institution’s data, no matter where it resides.

We also know that one of the top struggles for higher education institutions right now is cloud security. For example, we’re hearing from many customers about their researchers using the cloud for projects, which can lead to a host of security and compliance issues if not managed appropriately.

You can’t secure what you don’t know about, and similar to many higher education institutions, there’s likely a lot of projects in your environment that you aren’t aware of or have simply forgotten about. You’re not alone. After sharing the results of a Cortex Xpanse assessment we conducted for a large university in the Midwest, our team was met by stunned silence from university staff who had just learned how much data leakage was occurring around their network’s edge.

EDUCAUSE Top IT Issue #2:
“Evolve or Become Extinct”

The second most significant risk for higher education in the year ahead, according to EDUCAUSE, is the need to step up digital transformation efforts to become more efficient and agile.

We’ve seen firsthand how institutions that went into the crisis more digitally mature weathered the disruption more effectively. Now, we’re seeing more mature institutions building on those successes, and the institutions behind on the transformation curve are racing to catch up.

How We Can Help

We’re more than a security vendor to our higher education customers – we’re a partner. No matter where you are on your cyber journey, we can help you define a strategy that will allow you to meet your security needs and reduce risk while remaining flexible and agile in your operations.

As mentioned above, Palo Alto Networks can bring the technology necessary to help you protect your data, whether it’s located in the cloud or on premises. Our integrated Cortex platform, for example, helps break down data silos in your environment, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to contextualize and normalize security data, helping your Security Operations Center (SOC) team find threats and orchestrate responses quickly.

Most important: You can choose how we participate, whether it’s end to end, or simply helping you define your strategy and then leaving your team to do what they do best.

EDUCAUSE Top IT Issue #5:
“The Digital Versus Brick-and-Mortar Balancing Game”

Just like other businesses, higher education institutions face the challenge of supporting a hybrid workforce effectively, although their workforce includes their student population. EDUCAUSE foresees many institutions engaged in a delicate balance act in the coming year as they create “a blended campus to provide digital and physical work and learning spaces.”

How We Can Help

Whether your students, faculty or staff are on the campus network or remote, we can secure all traffic consistently and simply with our Prisma SASE solution. Any successful SASE strategy must bring together best-of-breed SD-WAN and security capabilities in the cloud to deliver exceptional user experiences while reducing security risk – and that’s what we deliver through Prisma SASE. You’ll be able to secure your hybrid workforce without worrying about how to support all the various use cases.

EDUCAUSE Top IT Issue #8:
“Weathering the Shift to the Cloud”

Higher education institutions had to race to the cloud to support their students, faculty and other workers in the sudden shift to remote work in 2020. Now, these organizations are trying to get their arms around these investments and meet the challenge of what EDUCAUSE calls, “creating a cloud and SaaS strategy that reduces costs and maintains control.”

How We Can Help

Most higher education institutions have a multicloud environment now. We’ve seen many of these organizations struggling to manage that environment with point solutions or a single-vendor-focused approach to security. By partnering with Palo Alto Networks, they’re able to secure their on-premises, hybrid or multicloud environments more efficiently and effectively.

Palo Alto Networks can help you protect everything – infrastructure, apps, data and more – systematically through a single enforcement mechanism: Prisma Cloud. Our platform taps into your cloud providers’ APIs for read-only access to your network traffic, user activity and configuration of systems and services, and correlates these disparate data sets to help your cloud compliance and security analytics teams prioritize risks and quickly respond to issues.

Check Your Alignment, Then Give Us a Call

If you haven’t done so already, take a look at the 2022 list from EDUCAUSE to see how your institution’s IT priorities align with their top 10 list. Then, get in touch with us to talk about how Palo Alto Networks can help you assess your current security posture and fill critical gaps. We can help your organization take a strategic, comprehensive approach to protecting your assets and users in the new normal.