EdTech and the security challenges of migrating to the cloud

Schools, colleges and universities may have finally got back into rhythm following numerous lockdowns, but in embracing new technology, there are elements of the shift to remote learning that will surely continue long after the pandemic is over.

One of these is the migration of educational institutions to the cloud. The operational, collaborative and cost-saving benefits of them embracing the cloud speak for themselves. On top of this, schools and colleges are under ongoing pressure to become more inclusive, and a cloud-based system helps remove barriers to education, providing a more accessible form of education for those individuals not always physically able to get to class. 

However, while moving to the cloud is an efficient and effective way for students, teachers, and parents to access and share information regardless of their location, this is precisely what brings with it some complex security challenges. Multiple people accessing files and software from different locations, networks and devices makes it incredibly difficult for IT teams to maintain visibility.

How is cloud technology and software asset management related to cybersecurity?

Software asset management (SAM) is what gives you this vital visibility of your entire IT estate. When a company or organisation shifts to cloud-based software, having a robust SAM strategy in place is what’s needed to oversee every aspect of your team’s software use, from deployment to documentation.

This allows your IT department to check that all products are up to date and that all patches have been installed, as well as ensuring any vulnerabilities are tackled immediately.

SAM tools can also go one step further and show IT teams exactly where, when, and how, students and staff members are using popular cloud tools, to a really detailed level of insight, so that they can identify risks and protect against them accordingly.

Using this insight to create a more secure environment

Improving cybersecurity in any organisation is a collaborative effort that requires everyone to play their part, but in a school, college or university that becomes even more complicated, where those who can potentially leave a system open to breaches range from teachers and staff, to children and their parents. Therefore, educating people on what the risks are and how to protect against them is crucial.

Raising awareness of a few of the most common security threats can be beneficial.

Using outdated software

This is one of the single biggest risks to your institution, making you a target for cyber criminals. Similarly, not updating to the latest version of software can also leave you vulnerable. One of the most important reasons for performing software updates is for security; fixing security flaws or patching vulnerabilities is their most crucial function.

Adding software indiscriminately

This could be anything from illegal digital downloads, to an online purchase from an unknown vendor. Staying on top of software asset management allows you to monitor and stay on top of any unmanaged or unregulated IT resources, but making people aware of what these look like should be your first step.

Sharing removable media

Another common threat is through the sharing of inappropriate software from machine to machine, but this can compromise assets and leave you open to breaches.

As cloud technology continues to play an increasingly integral role in the future of learning, educational institutions need to ensure they are also considering a robust security strategy to protect themselves and their pupils online, and a solid software asset management plan needs to be a fundamental part of this approach.