Cybersecurity: What are the 5 Strategies That College Leaders Should Know?

College leaders need cybersecurity


Cybersecurity at the college level is a topic of concern for many leaders. Student and institution data must remain safe from breaches. Cyberattacks are increasing in both volume and level of sophistication. As a result, colleges need to be proactive in keeping systems up to date and protected from vulnerabilities. College leaders, such as chief information officers (CIOs), can employ these 5 ways to meet cybersecurity challenges at their colleges. 


1.) College CIOs Should Perform Routine Audits for Cybersecurity

First, mitigate security breaches by being proactive in identifying possible risks. To accomplish this measure, college leaders will perform an audit every year or every few years if resources are limited. Therefore, they will rotate types of audits, such as penetration tests, data security, social engineering, web application, and network architecture. Moreover, they will complete a risk analysis to identify the highest risks and address them. Because of these responsibilities, a CIO must keep their skills current by regularly seeking out security certifications.


2.) Purchase or Support the College Infrastructure With Insurance 

Most importantly, purchase insurance. Insurance is essential for preparing for security breaches. A CIO should join with their CFO in discussions about cybersecurity insurance. As they fill out an insurance application, decisions will need to be made related to insurance cost vs. the cost and risk of security incidents. Insurance products are available for a variety of support features. Besides that, these issues include coverage for data destruction, cyber extortion, network business interruption, breach notification, and incident response.


3.) Complete a HECVAT Questionnaire for Cybersecurity 

Thus, before purchasing third-party security solutions, CIOs can perform a HECVAT assessment. HECVAT is the Higher Education Community Vendor Assessment Toolkit developed by the Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC). Therefore, the questionnaire allows the CIO to measure vendor risk, thereby saving time and money. It will help assess if the college’s cybersecurity, data, and information policies are robust to protect the institution’s information. 


4.) Understand the C-Level of Risk in Cybersecurity

Besides that, a CIO manages a high level of responsibility for security risks. That includes educating the other leaders of the institution about risk. And they must communicate the language other C-suite leaders can understand. Additionally, they understand that collaborating with CIOs of other colleges and universities will help CIOs find dynamic solutions for their colleges. Most importantly, they can form or join working groups around compliance, governance risk, or other cybersecurity topics. This benefit will allow CIOs to learn from the experiences of others to solve their institution’s security risk needs.


5.) Consider Creating a CISO Position

Finally, college leaders could add a CISO position at the college to manage the cybersecurity-related responsibilities the CIO now has. A CISO’s (chief information security officer) responsibilities are focused on security. As a skilled manager and leader for security and information technology, a CISO has the education and certification needed to conduct risk management and auditing. Therefore, they will also perform many other specialized tasks to mitigate and respond to security risks at the college.


In sum, a CIO is responsible for helping a college manage cybersecurity. They can do perform routine audits, obtain insurance, and complete an HECVAT. Most importantly, they need to understand their C-level risk responsibilities. Creating a CISO position further improves cybersecurity for higher-ed, digital infrastructures.    

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