Colleges Focus on Cloud Security
The following is an excerpt from the article Colleges Focus on Cloud Security, written by Karen D. Schwartz for Ed Tech Magazine, and offers important insight into the significance of cloud computing in today’s technologically-driven world. Although this article refers to campus infrastructure as whole, MBS offers cloud computing solutions specialized for the college store. Just like the providers described below, our main priority is your security, so we take serious measures to ensure the integrity of your data is never compromised. In fact, we’ve partnered with Paymetric for tokenization security in the cloud, too.
If you’re considering cloud computing, learn how other college stores have made the transition here, and contact your MBS Representative for more information.
Many colleges are taking their time signing on with public-cloud services. As a general rule, universities tend to adapt slowly to changing technologies, and the security of any cloud service is a big concern.
That’s why Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago started with security. One of the university’s first steps into the cloud was to migrate away from on-premises virus and spam filtering to cloud-based e-mail security. The university recently discontinued its use of Symantec’s on-premises Brightmail system in favor of Symantec.cloud, a public cloud e-mail security service.
“We are always hesitant when it comes to the cloud, but we felt comfortable moving our e-mail security to the cloud with Symantec because security is what they do,” says Kim Tracy, executive director of University Technology Services at Northeastern Illinois.
Symantec’s expertise in security has already come in handy. The university has experienced a series of targeted phishing attacks, and the software provider, through its cloud service, has been helpful in reducing the attacks.
“I’m thankful we have Symantec to work on it,” Tracy says. “They have a much better chance of fixing this problem than we could internally. We would just end up filtering out too much, including a lot of legitimate e-mail.”
The move to Symantec’s cloud service offers solid security and also gives Tracy’s department the flexibility to easily add or delete users as their needs change. That’s important, because the next step will be moving students to Gmail while keeping faculty and staff on the Symantec e-mail security system.
For any organization with software, infrastructure or platforms in the public cloud, it’s critical to identify threats and vulnerabilities in real time so they can be acted on and resolved quickly, says Renell Dixon, a managing director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a global consultancy firm.
“When you’re talking about the cloud, the window of opportunity between the time a threat is located and the time you are fully protected is very small,” she says. “It’s important to put something in place that manages that process in real time by continuously monitoring and fixing problems as they occur.”
Why So Cautious?
James Leoni, deputy CIO for University of Maryland’s campus in Baltimore, is as cautious as Tracy when it comes to moving to the cloud. His campus is home to seven professional and graduate schools, including medicine and law. That means there’s a lot of personal legal and healthcare information that must be protected.
Recognizing they need to secure both internal applications and external public-cloud services, campus IT staff set up a system in which all incoming and outgoing e-mail or documents pass through a Cisco Systems IronPort security appliance. The IronPort gear encrypts sensitive information using rules that match the unique policies of the professional schools.
“The reality is that some of these cloud services are more secure than some of the servers people are running locally,” he says. “We have one or two people running our student e-mail system, for example, but at Google, they have an entire security team. Hundreds of system administrators can offer more resources than one or two.”
If you are still using an in-store server, what are your concerns with converting to cloud computing? If you use a hosted model, what are the major benefits? Share your experiences in the comments section!
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