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Network Security a Challenge for Colleges and Universities

Network Security a Challenge for Colleges and Universities

Millions of students--approximately 16 million--call colleges or universities their home for at least a portion of the calendar year. They are educated by another 1.5 million or so faculty, staff, and other employees. Most of these institutions of higher education understand the challenges presented by maintaining networks, particularly the ones that students connect countless devices to. With all this in mind, can a college campus’ network truly be secure, or is it a fool’s errand?

Birth of the Internet
The first Internet was created by intellectuals for the purposes of academia, far removed from the issues that plague the current state of affairs. The concept grew in popularity and eventually took to commerce, pushing development of the Internet beyond its creators’ wildest dreams. Eventually, by 1984, the first catalogue was launched on the Internet, followed by the first e-store (books.com) in 1992 and the first software sold online (IPSwitch IMail Server), in 1994. Amazon and eBay followed soon after, and… well, you know the rest.

Academia uses the Internet for countless purposes, most of all for online learning and providing access to the near-limitless resources of the known world. You’d be hard-pressed to find any school or university that doesn’t offer online access in its classrooms and buildings.

Cybersecurity Needs in Higher Education
Campuses are almost completely connected, but more often than not, in order to access a network, you’ll need security clearance, including a login username and a password. This creates a major pain point, as countless devices will constantly need access to an Internet connection at any given point. The same problems that cause trouble for businesses plague those in charge of handling IT at colleges; in fact, one could claim they have even more issues to deal with, what with uninformed students making all the mistakes you’d expect them to.

According to a 2018 report, none of the top 10 computer science degrees in the United States require a cybersecurity course to graduate; of the top 50 computer science programs listed by Business Insider, only three require a cybersecurity course. Furthermore, out of the 122 schools reviewed, only one school required three or more cybersecurity courses: the University of Alabama. It’s clear that cybersecurity--even for schools with programs in computer science--is far from a priority.

Are These Cybersecurity Issues Specific to Universities?
Issues related to cybersecurity are rarely specific to any industry, as many of the security shortcomings are often related to the end-user. Furthermore, the skill gap between cybersecurity professionals and hackers has been largely marginalized in recent years; as one grows stronger, so does the other. This is nothing but a stark reminder that it doesn’t matter what you do for a living; cybersecurity permeates all walks of life, and it is important to keep your personal information (and personal computing) safe from threats.

Some institutions have relied on companies like Cyber Degrees to educate their workforce and ensure the college’s network stays secure. While it might seem like this increase in hacking and cybercrime has no benefits, it has caused a considerable increase in the demand for cybersecurity. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that there were more than 200,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the United States. Considering how much this industry has changed since then, imagine how many unfilled cybersecurity jobs there are today. Thus, cybersecurity training is more important than ever.

Network Solutions Unlimited wants to help your business keep its network safe and secure. To learn more, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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