Secure campus should not spoil student experience

Morten Illum, VP EMEA, HPE Aruba explains that a secure campus does not have to come at the expense of student experience

For all the benefits of mobile connectivity, cloud and IoT, these technologies give hackers many more opportunities to find gaps in cyber defences and make their way inside our networks. For educational institutions that have a vast campus and user base, a variety of devices trying to connect to their network and a huge amount of data passing through their systems, this presents a real risk.

However, as Universities battle each other in a bid to attract new students and provide the best possible experience on campus, rather than take a conservative approach to IT, they need to strike the right balance between productivity and security. Otherwise, they risk impeding student productivity in favour of security. It’s all about getting the right mix, so that we avoid being prohibitive.

So, what does this balance look like in practice? First off, managing the way the network is run and understood by users and those administering it. Then there’s the cultural aspect of managing expectations and meeting user demand.

Initially, you’ve got to have a network that is granular enough to show you the individual people and devices connecting to it. Because, the devices we choose, the locations we work in and the people we send data to can change without warning. When patterns of network usage can change at any time and thousands of devices are connecting each day – we need networks that can keep up and adapt policies in real-time. Using behavioural analytics, we can analyse the entire network collectively, using machine learning to find the very small changes in activity that will alert us to the likelihood of a breach, and avoid exploits that result in loss of personal information.

Next it’s about remembering that while reminding users of the security risks, processes and tools that are in place to protect them is critical, it doesn’t have to mean IT should be seen as a barrier. Security teams are the enablers of the experiences users are beginning to demand and can support the way the world is moving. They don’t need to be seen as the gatekeepers denying access to the tools that are needed to work in a new, immersive environment we live in.

After all, students have expectations to be online at all times, and we need to be catering to these expectations in order to prepare them for the future of work. Quite simply, students will not be as productive without a seamless, connected experience as they move across the campus and IT and security teams have a real opportunity to take charge of this movement, without becoming the department of ‘no.’