Higher Education Industry

The higher education sector is now a prime target for cyber threats, with ransomware attacks on the rise. Alarmingly, only a third of these institutions have a team dedicated to cybersecurity. With as many as 5,400 phishing attacks aimed at schools and colleges every week, the stakes are high. A single data breach can cost an institution an average of $3.9 million.

As educational systems become more interconnected, they are at greater risk of cyberattacks. These concerning statistics highlight the serious consequences of such threats. A significant financial loss from a cyberattack can tarnish an institution's reputation, hinder its research and development activities, and drain resources that could otherwise support the education and growth of students.

IT Security and Compliance for Higher Education

Colleges and universities maintain sensitive information from students, faculty, and donors. Whether you are a community college, technical institute, ivy league school, or liberal arts college, you would not be able to operate without collecting, maintaining, and transmitting sensitive data.

Higher education institutions are attractive targets for cyber attackers as they often possess data including social security numbers, payment card information, student loan details, and protected health information (PHI). On top of the information higher education institutions hold on their students, another significant risk is the intellectual property surrounding research they may be conducting. In recent years, higher education institutes have been targeted by foreign nations looking to steal research data for economic and military advantages. When you combine all this with the fact that many colleges and universities operate in a decentralized environment, the risk of data theft and loss is tremendous.

The higher education sector faces many challenges related to information security, including:

  • Decentralized environments
  • Numerous federal, state, and industry regulations
  • Limited budgets
  • Speed of technology deployment

Brian Kelly Circle

Brian Kelly, our AVP of Virtual CISO, boasts extensive expertise in higher education. Since 2007, Brian has held noteworthy positions such as the Cybersecurity Program Director at EDUCAUSE and the CISO at Quinnipiac University. He actively collaborates with higher education cybersecurity groups, including URMIA and NERCOMP, and has been a sought-after speaker at national higher education events. In addition to his role at Compass IT Compliance, he has dedicated two decades to educating students in cybersecurity as an adjunct instructor in the CIS Department at Naugatuck Valley Community College.

Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Tool (HECVAT) Support

Compass IT Compliance supports organizations in navigating the Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Tool (HECVAT) process. The HECVAT is a questionnaire framework specifically designed for higher education to measure vendor risk. Before contracting with a third-party solution, higher eds often ask the solution provider to complete a HECVAT to confirm that information, data, and cybersecurity controls are in place to protect their sensitive institutional information and stakeholder's personal identifiable information (PII). The assessment can be used by multiple institutions to streamline procurement processes for vendors.

Higher Education Cybersecurity Solutions

Compass IT Compliance serves as a trusted thought leader within the higher education cybersecurity realm. We are affiliate members of the University Risk Management and Insurance Association (URMIA), are community supporters of the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE), and have previously been invited to present for the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). We have developed a robust catalog of services focused on mitigating the information security and compliance risks of higher education institutions, including:

Ready to Get Started?

Contact Compass IT Compliance Today

The highly certified experts at Compass IT Compliance have spent the past decade working with private and public colleges and universities of varying size and organizational structure. We are familiar with the Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Toolkit (HECVAT) questionnaire framework and can assist both schools and vendors. Get in touch with us online today to discuss your unique challenges!