Automated Identity and Access Management (IAM) is key to securely and promptly providing employees and students with the proper access rights to accomplish their daily tasks.
While you might not initially think you need an automated IAM solution in your school or college, however, you really do. Right now, most education organizations rely on tedious, manual processes to assign and manage user roles for students and employees based on factors like the person’s title or graduation date in the case of students.
Generally speaking, an IT team who manually provisions user accounts spend a lot of time creating, updating, and deleting user accounts across multiple systems. In addition, this manual process can easily create security issues by introducing human error and communication issues between departments. Deprovisioning becomes a concern when employees or students leave, but their accounts stay active until the IT team is notified to manually deprovision them.
Let’s look at the complexities of this in practice.
Jane is a student at University. She recently graduated and is now attending graduate school at the same University. This means she’ll need new and different access rights to some of the school’s systems and applications.
However, because Jane graduated, the University automatically plans to delete her account within 12 months of graduation. To prevent this and give Jane the access she needs, an IT staff member will need to spend hours – and we mean hours – editing Jane’s access rights to get to everything she needs.
All this time, of course, adds up to swelling costs. 57% of IT leaders say automation could save their departments between 10 and 50% on costs associated with manual processing.
So, how do you automate this process? With an automated identity and access management solution. Suppose the University had a solution like this. They could’ve easily changed Jane’s status in the Student Information System (SIS). The IAM Software solution would analyze Jane’s attributes and create, update or delete any of Jane’s accounts based on the IAM role model. This process would have seamlessly granted Jane access to the new systems she needed with no downtime, risks, or wasted manpower.
A Deeper Look at the Benefits of Automated IAM
At a high-level, automated IAM sounds great – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some more benefits you can unleash by moving to an automated IAM solution like HelloID (suitable for small to midsize institutions) or NIM (for schools and colleges with a large footprint) – both of which we offer!
Seamless Student Account Management
The end of every school year might be a time for teachers and students to relax, but things are just getting started for your IT team. Most IT professionals in the education sector will be familiar with the stressful process of running custom scripts and manually disabling or deleting graduate accounts at the end of the term.
Then, they must consider incoming students, new hires, and any changes as classes move up a school year. The process can quickly become messy and error-prone if they have multiple systems to work through.
Automated IAM is undoubtedly the best way to overcome this problem. There are two main methods used:
1. Provide a query or view from a database, typically a student information system. With this method, your IAM software will immediately begin creating and purging accounts at the end of the school year within any systems it is connected to.
2. Provide a flat file for the software to pick up. With this method, you will need to provide a list of accounts to be created and purged. While this process takes slightly longer, it still saves a significant amount of time compared to manual management.
A less stressed IT team!
People moves (i.e., school locations, job roles, grade levels, etc.) are common in education; students, teachers, and other faculty members come and go. As this happens, their accounts need to be updated and decommissioned quickly for security and accuracy.
Without an automated IAM solution, your IT team has to spend countless hours updating accounts, and their stress levels skyrocket. Did you know that one study found that two out of five IT employees want to quit due to excessive stress and exhaustion?
Stress isn’t just bad for your team’s health; it’s bad for business too. Employees suffering from stress are more likely to lose motivation, disengage with work, become error-prone, or even quit.
The good news is that it’s easy to reduce the load on your IT staff with an automated IAM solution. For example, the IT staff at Moshannon Valley School District, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania was drowning in manual account management tickets. Most often, these tickets called for repetitive student account provisioning. The process was problematic and time-consuming for the IT department to handle.
With our help, Moshannon Valley has gone from manually managing student accounts to a fully automated IAM solution, freeing up the IT department to work on other projects for the district.
A better end-user experience
We’ve all felt the frustration of trying to remember endless numbers of unique passwords for our different online accounts. In fact, many of us have probably forgotten a password at some point or another and had to either reset it or request IT support because we’ve been locked out.
Well, with HelloID, one of our IAM solutions with single sign-on (SSO) functionality, this isn’t an issue! With SSO, your students, teachers, and employees only need to remember one master password, which is amazing for improving the user experience and productivity. The SSO system stores all their passwords in a database, automatically logging them onto these systems when they start their session.
Moreover, IAM-based SSO is intelligent and contextual in its approach. It won’t just let any old user login; it ensures they’re legitimately who they say they are, which brings us to our next point.
With the amount of personal identifiable information they hold, schools and colleges are a hot target for malicious hackers. US schools have suffered over 1,851 data breaches since 2005.
Another great benefit of automated IAM solutions with SSO is that they enhance your organization’s security standing. This is because usernames and passwords are often how hackers break into your network. Whenever a user creates a new account with a password, that’s another potential attack surface for hackers to exploit.
SSO directly tackles this problem because it only requires users to log in once each day using one password.
The best-in-breed of these solutions also uses contextual factors to verify the authenticity of your users during login. For example, if students log in from their usual IP address, location and device, our solution enables them to log on seamlessly as they are considered low-risk.
However, if a ‘student’ logs on in the middle of the night from a random country using an unknown IP address, this suggests that a hacker might have stolen their credentials. In this instance, our solution will either automatically block the request or mandate multifactor authentication.
Education organizations must meet compliance mandates like FERPA and NCES 97-859 or risk financial penalties.
FERPA, for example, requires the use of “reasonable methods” to authenticate data access, along with a commitment to improving: “the transparency and availability of education data” alongside enhancing “the effectiveness of access controls.”
Undoubtedly, automated IAM is one of the best ways to meet the requirements of FERPA and other regulations.
How Tools4ever Unleashes the Power of IAM in Your Institution
Tools4ever is here to help make your students and their educators successful. We have you covered with two enterprise-level IAM solutions, HelloID (cloud) and NIM (on-premise). In addition to IAM, HelloID offers SSO to simplify the end-user password management dilemma.