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Securing your SIS data in the Cloud: Can you afford to do nothing?

The many Student Experience benefits of moving your student information system (SIS) to the cloud have been the focus of our recent blogs. However today, we look at the risk management benefits that are now making migrating your SIS the most cost-effective way to source the IT security you need to reduce the likelihood of crippling service disruption or data breach.  

In a recent Gartner report, 95% of universities say that cybersecurity is a high priority for their governors and/or senior management. Hardly a surprise when you consider that, if successful, the average cost of a cyber-attack on a university is around £2.9 million in financial, legal, and reputational damages. Valuable research, a wealth of personal student information, and costly service disruption are just three of the reasons that hackers are increasingly targeting education institutions. Worryingly, recent data from the Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 shows that 74% of FE colleges have been negatively impacted by breaches in the last 12 months, and the spate of high profile attacks is considered a direct response to the unprecedented demand for remote access as a result of the pandemic.   

Some universities had to transition rapidly from physical to hybrid models, and their student information systems are now regularly and consistently accessed remotely, exposing weaknesses and vulnerabilities that a more robust approach to digital transformation may have engineered out. Unfortunately, attacks tend to be more successful with on-premise than they do with cloud systems; which is one of six key reasons why, according to Gartner, virtually every new deployment of a student information system now goes straight to the cloud. (Alongside security, the other five key benefits of SIS in the cloud are elasticity, availability, accountability, agility and strategy – read more here >).

Of course, institutions that have an on-premise student information system have the option to repurchase a cloud solution, but this is often considered a prohibitively expensive and operationally disruptive approach. Hence, the emerging choice for education institutions that want all the benefits of their existing student information system, coupled with all the benefits of a managed cloud service, is to re-platform (lift and re-shape their solution) with an experienced SIS provider. 

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If experienced in the cloud and able to offer managed services, then partnering with your SIS provider could serve to de-risk both your technology and your operations when you have moved to the cloud, with the added bonus of freeing your internal IT team to focus on more strategic technology programmes. The SaaS model of cloud delivery also gives your IT teams the opportunity to redesign your institution’s security approach for critical systems and make use of the sophisticated protections offered by vendors, making the system, and the university, less vulnerable to cyber-attack. 

As our CTO, Mike Cope explains: 

Tribal takes a re-platform approach to migrating our student information systems – reshaping our solutions to an optimised cloud architecture. As the designers, creators, and developers of student information systems, we know better than anyone else how to optimise these to run in a cloud environment and ensure they remain secure, agile, resilient, and aligned to your digital transformation journey. 

If you can’t outsource risk, you can outsource security… 

So, whilst you cannot outsource your risk associated with data in your value chain – and regulators have clearly and consistently insisted this is the case for many years – you can outsource systems and services to specialist providers, like Tribal, that will help you manage your risk by adhering to cybersecurity best practices. 

We make it our business to employ specialist security teams to design all our systems and migration strategies, so they are not only compliant with complex industry and sector security standards, but can also withstand the constant attack they are under. Trusting us to keep your critical SIS optimised in the cloud as a managed service, means you no longer have to worry about the mundane cyber hygiene activities like software updates that are so critical to maintaining a secure and functioning service for your students and staff. 

And to help you prepare for your successful SIS migration that puts best practice cybersecurity and operational resilience at the heart of the design, Tribal has now developed a Cloud Discovery Service, specifically for higher and further education providers. However, if you’re not yet ready to migrate your SIS to the cloud, we can begin to move you towards efficient leading practice approaches that help improve your system security (which can be refined and developed over time). You can migrate your SIS at your own pace whilst starting to recognise real improvements in your cyber risk management, business processes, and user experience.