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Security Higher Education 6 min read

How to protect your university & students with intelligent threat detection & response

How to protect your university & students with intelligent threat detection & response

Higher Education institutions face a constant and growing number of sophisticated cyberattacks and with more universities moving to online learning as a result of the pandemic, the challenge is now even greater.

Universities are under more pressure than ever before to ensure the safety and privacy of students and staff from wherever they’re learning and working, whether that’s on-campus or at home. This has compounded the complexity of security and privacy management for university IT teams. Now, more than ever, universities must keep everyone secure as they’re working and learning from a range of different locations. Since many are on personal devices and distributed networks that have varying levels of protection and security, these endpoints and devices are becoming new targets for malicious attacks.

The education sector accounted for 63% of malicious attacks tracked by Microsoft intelligence making it the most affected industry by 600%. The reason the sector is so fiercely targeted is due to universities acting as a treasure trove of high value targets for cybercriminals, with everything from students personally identifiable information (PII), to extremely valuable intellectual property. Remote and hybrid learning compounds these challenges by increasing the risk of attacks.

However, using the right software can provide a wealth of helpful information to keep sensitive data secure. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software can provide higher education institutions with the tools they need for compliance and to keep systems safe from threats.

As many universities move towards cloud infrastructure and off-site SaaS, new SIEM tools are adapting to the cloud era and enabling universities to develop effective ways to collect, monitor and analyse cloud-based security data. As a result, you now have the option of implementing SIEM as an on-premises, cloud-based or fully in the cloud (cloud-native SaaS SIEM) solution.


What are the advantages of cloud-native SIEM?

Cloud-based SIEMs offer all the benefits of an on-premises SIEM, combined with convenience, adaptability and enhanced usability. The top benefits include:


  • Faster deployment – On-premises SIEM systems collect large amounts of data from everywhere in your network and require in-house configurations on company appliances. Consequently, it can take many weeks and even months before they can be deployed as a fully operational security measure. According to a SIEM research conducted by Gartner, around 40% of SIEM deployments took more than 3 months to complete, with most of that time spent on shipping, fulfilment and initial setup.


  • Scalability – On-premises SIEM solutions may match an organisation’s requirement at the time of implementation, but as the enterprise grows and its data needs expand, these older, SQL-based security systems often lack the technologies to grow with it. Cloud-based or cloud-native SIEMs, on the other hand, can be scaled as required, and capacity can be easily increased to cover additional data sources and new applications.


  • Reduce capital expenses and cut costs – the cost of implementing a SIEM system is another major consideration. With on-premises SIEM systems, the upfront costs are greater, placing organisations in larger technical debt from the outset. On-premises SIEMs also require a number of ongoing costs, such as maintenance, staffing and hardware upgrades. In contrast, cloud-based SIEM solutions can cost up to 48% less, with reduced overhead and infrastructure maintenance costs. That’s because cloud-based SIEMs are generally set up on a subscription basis, allowing organisations to pay only for the resources they actively use.


  • Simpler and easier to use – traditional SIEM solutions vary in complexity, but many older systems deliver a sloe and frustrating user experience. And when these traditional tolls are maxed on EPS, they become even slower to query and correlate data. On the other hand, cloud-based solutions, are designed for simplicity and are also much more accessible and reliable than on-site alternatives, often coming with service level agreements that ensure data is stored in multiple locations to avoid a single point of failure.


Why is Microsoft Azure Sentinel fast becoming the SIEM solution of choice for higher education?

Azure Sentinel is a scalable, cloud-native, security information event management (SIEM) and security orchestration automated response (SOAR) solution. It delivers intelligent security analytics and threat intelligence across the enterprise, providing a single solution for alert detection, threat visibility, proactive hunting, and threat response.

There are two main reasons Azure Sentinel stands out, not only from traditional on-premises SIEM systems but also from other cloud-based systems.

  1. Sentinel provides data capabilities that other threat analytics platforms just can’t touch – with extensive visibility into an organisation’s infrastructure, it can access vast amounts of data across even the largest environments.
  2. Sentinel continuously monitors this data using advanced, built-in machine learning tools – using advanced AI and ML algorithms, Sentinel will automatically detect multistage attacks at various stages of the kill-chain. This means Sentinel can identify potential threats that other SIEM systems would find very difficult to catch, offering organisations unparalleled protection in one simple, scalable, and cost-effective security solution. Sentinel will also automatically respond to these threats when they occur instead of waiting for a person to respond to the alert.

As a cloud-native SIEM solution, Sentinel will also enable you to scale in response to demand and only pay for the resources you need. You’ll also find there are significant cost savings too with Microsoft stating Sentinel is 48% cheaper and 67% faster to deploy than legacy on-premises SIEMs.


How to get started with Azure Sentinel

Azure Sentinel Accelerator – If you’re keen to experience the value before you commit, why not try a PoC? Our Azure Sentinel Accelerator can provide you with a fully functioning Azure Sentinel platform ready for data to be ingested and served in as little as 2-6 weeks. Find out more here.

Azure Sentinel Managed Service – once you’re up and running with Sentinel, we can remove the burden of managing the platform yourself. With our Sentinel Managed Service we will take care of the management and integration of the platform while also providing security advice, incident remediation and real-time monitoring. Discover more here.