When hackers recently infiltrated a popular file-sharing tool called MoveIT, it resulted in a massive spree of data breaches, including more than 900 at colleges and universities. Higher education has rapidly become both a greater target for hackers and, unfortunately, a frequent victim, with the average breach costing a school $3.7 million according to IBM.

Stopping attacks and securing data must be top priorities for the industry. Unfortunately, numerous obstacles stand in the way that could make breaches on higher education more common, expensive, and difficult to stop.

The Tech Problem in Higher Ed

The cybersecurity problem in higher ed is one symptom of a more significant problem: legacy systems.

Today’s campuses, in many cases, run on different tech stacks in every department, and many of those tools are old, basic, unsupported, and full of customizations and fixes accumulated over the years. Legacy systems like these are Swiss cheese in terms of security, full of holes that are impossible to fix.

Hackers know that colleges and universities are full of vulnerable technology. They also know there are vast stores of personal, financial, medical, and proprietary information they can exploit for profit. As a result, schools have a target on their back.

Legacy systems compromise cybersecurity, but that’s just the beginning. Siloed technologies that cannot share data with each other keep students, researchers, and administrators in different departments from communicating and collaborating effectively. Reliance on legacy technology diminishes the ability to implement emerging tech like artificial intelligence. It even affects recruiting efforts because when schools don’t offer the leading tech of today and tomorrow they will struggle to attract students and faculty.

More than just an IT hassle, legacy technology is one of the biggest inhibitors to success in higher education. Every school, regardless of enrollment or endowment, will need to confront this issue head on. The situation will only worsen for those delaying tech updates and upgrades. For those who act early, however, there are opportunities to stabilize, grow, and thrive in an industry undergoing deep change and disruption.

The Tech Solution in Higher Ed

Make no mistake: it will be a difficult undertaking to modernize legacy systems, integrate and automate workflows, and secure all data. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, either.

Each school will need to individually determine which legacy systems are causing the biggest setbacks, where replacements could and should make the biggest impact, and how to proceed based on the school’s resources and strategy. There will be tech to evaluate, vendors to select, plans to formalize, and implementation projects to complete, with high risk at each stage of making incorrect choices that undermine the whole effort.

Getting this right couldn’t be more important or more difficult, which is why colleges and universities rely on Dean Dorton for technology and cybersecurity. With expertise spanning digital transformation, change management, and higher education, no team is better equipped to help schools move from past to future.

Let us help you pave the path to a more secure future. Contact us today!