Simon Wood, CEO at Ubisecure

#IAM Top 3 - Online learning and identity best practice @Ubisecure 

With students worldwide now studying from home, educational institutions are under pressure to offer remote facilities in place of face-to-face interactions. As a result, the urgent need for digital-first business strategies is higher than ever.

A fundamental step for any digitalisation initiative is to decide how users will verify who they are when accessing your application and which areas they have the right to access, with identity as the new perimeter of online services.

This is especially true at the moment for the education sector, as online learning becomes commonplace and staff and students alike are accessing services remotely. As digital interactions rise, so too does the risk of data breach as hackers take advantage of the increased opportunity for manipulation.

While we don't know how long current social distancing measures will last, and when society will return to 'normality', it’s clear that any operational efficiencies and security benefits enabled by digitalisation now will also serve to safeguard business processes beyond today's challenges.

Becoming digital-first with identity best practice 

To succeed in becoming digital-first, the higher education sector must look towards Identity and Access Management (IAM) best practices to underpin digital services.

Notably, here are a few key IAM use cases that educational institutions can aim to adopt:

1. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) 

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adds a layer of security on top of any standard username/password combination and authenticates users with more than one identity verification method. MFA could include alternatives to traditional passwords such as one-time-passwords and support for existing identities from 3rd party identity providers.

Building in MFA will be key for educational institutions looking to secure the identities of both staff and students when deploying online learning. 

2. Embed Single Sign-On (SSO)

Through SSO, universities can offer users one identity for simplified login to all online learning services and applications. As a result, they won’t need several identities to log in to connected applications, leading to greater user satisfaction and much less time spent by IT support teams maintaining IDs and passwords.

3. Seamless Identity Management

By simplifying management of identity data at scale through self-service account management, organisations can avoid the time wasted on data silos and IT administrators won’t have to repetitively solve simple login issues.

Being digital first is now the difference between success and disaster

Being digital first has always been a competitive advantage – however, as of 2020, it is the difference between success and disaster. While we don't know how long current social distancing measures will last, and when society will return to 'normality', any operational efficiencies enabled by digitalisation now will also serve to safeguard business processes beyond today's challenges.

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The importance of such efficiency has been highlighted by the pandemic, not least due to economic uncertainty being a very real scenario for many, but intolerance for inefficiency will remain beyond it.

Digital identity is now understood as the perimeter of the Internet, and therefore ensuring Identity and Access Management (IAM) is executed effectively is a necessity to ensure business resilience. If this is overlooked then the threat of data breach, and in turn financial and reputational loss, rises significantly, while putting both students and staff at risk.

Ultimately, getting digital identity right today will not only ensure business continuity for education institutions during the global pandemic, but also make these organisations stronger going forward.

As the cybersecurity landscape becomes more sophisticated and hackers more malicious, putting every tool and precaution in place to ensure that security functions are reliable and abiding by the principle of privacy by design is of the upmost importance.

Simon Wood, CEO at Ubisecure

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