Attention Higher Ed: Governance Alone Is Not a Cybersecurity Strategy

Bruce Macdonald

November 9, 2021

Prioritization is essential in getting any cybersecurity strategy up and running and even more so for colleges and universities. Limited resources (both financial and human) paired with often complex requirements to secure the personal data can make getting new processes and solutions challenging to get off the ground.

For that reason, identity governance and administration (IGA) is often a first step to achieve buy-in from decision makers quickly and to ensure cybersecurity initiatives move forward, especially as colleges and universities begin the move toward Zero Trust. 

As both a policy framework and security solution, IGA offers a strong starting point for schools. By automating the provisioning, management, and certification of user accounts, roles, and access rights, identity governance solutions can enable these processes to be integrated in a compressed timeframe.

However, when it comes to the complete protection of identities (the ultimate attack surface), IGA alone is not a complete cybersecurity strategy or solution. In fact, it’s only a part of identity and access management (IAM). You literally can’t — and really shouldn’t — have one without the other. If identity governance is the only item on your cybersecurity checklist, your strategy is missing some critical components.

Proactive Risk Management

The ultimate goal with any cybersecurity strategy should be to get ahead of potential threats and vulnerabilities. While identity governance and its automation touches on the proactive, it’s equally focused on preventative measures (also important). As ransomware attacks continue to increase exponentially, colleges and universities can’t afford to wait and hope for the best. Schools need a cybersecurity solution with predictive capabilities (like Hitachi ID Bravura Discover) to spot weaknesses and allow time for mitigation before they become a real problem. Strong identity governance simply isn’t enough.

Reliable Integrations

No matter how happy you are with your IGA solution, it does not exist in a vacuum. In order to be effective it needs to communicate securely with other environments and systems, and may even need to reach across departments or even schools. Integrations make that possible, and if they’re not part of your cybersecurity strategy, you’re opening up a world of potential vulnerabilities. Every connection, while useful, also represents a gap in your system and potential entry point for hackers. Make sure to monitor and fortify these points with a solution and strategy that prioritizes secure, yet seamless integrations.

Streamlined Privileged Access Management

As more and more schools set their sites on Zero Trust (an architecture that relies on trusting nothing in the system by default) it’s become increasingly important for all systems to be on the same page. Identity governance can address this in part, but it can fall short in some areas. 

The most common of these is privileged access management (PAM). This critical aspect of cybersecurity strategy ensures users have the appropriate amount of access (no more and no less than they need) and only on a temporary basis. Maintaining consistent access and permissions across systems is essential. A management system that can streamline these privileged accounts to ensure consistent access needs to be a part of all higher cybersecurity strategy discussions.

Better Together

As with any major organizational or technological change, the first step is always the hardest. Governance is a great way to get things moving, but don’t let it stall there. By implementing solutions like Hitachi Bravura Security Fabric that offer complete identity protection, schools can ensure that cybersecurity strategies keep moving forward for a more secure environment all around.

Learn more about finding the right identity governance, IAM, and PAM solution for your team in this complimentary eBook: “Choosing an Identity Governance and Administration Solution.”

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