Let's Put (Zero) Trust In Our Educational Future

Let’s Put (Zero) Trust In Our Educational Future

technology By Dec 27, 2023 No Comments

Let’s Put (Zero) Trust In Our Educational Future

As the CTO and cofounder of Hillstone Networks, Timothy Liu witnessed the devastating impact of the $6 million hack on the New Haven school district in August 2023. This event shed light on the vulnerabilities of educational institutions, exposing the urgent need for modern security principles. The shift to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated these challenges, making the education sector a prime target for cybercriminals.

The Vulnerability of Educational Institutions

Many schools continue to rely on outdated legacy systems and infrastructure that were not designed with modern security principles in mind. This overreliance on flawed technology has created a fertile ground for cyberattacks. The wide adoption of remote learning strategies has brought to light the disparities in access to technology and digital literacy among students and teachers, further amplifying cybersecurity concerns.

Before transitioning to zero trust network access (ZTNA), educational institutions need to assess their resources and applications to determine the level of access required for each user. The first step is to prioritize critical resources and gradually expand the ZTNA implementation to cover additional assets. A comprehensive inventory will provide a clear roadmap for the adoption of a ZTNA strategy.

Developing a ZTNA Policy

Creating a robust ZTNA policy is essential for restricting access based on the principle of least privilege. Limiting access to only essential resources for each user or system is crucial in preventing unauthorized entry. Continuous reassessment of policies is necessary to align with the evolving network landscape. Centralized policy management can simplify the setup and deployment of ZTNA, relieving the burden on SecOps teams.

Upgrading Legacy Security Solutions

Educational institutions should collaborate closely with their existing security vendors to leverage their current solutions as part of the ZTNA strategy. This collaborative effort aims to minimize costs and accelerate the transition to ZTNA. The upgrade of next-gen firewalls into ZTNA gateways and the enhancement of VPN clients into ZTNA agents are viable strategies for enhancing security measures.

Monitoring and Managing the ZTNA Solution

Ongoing monitoring and management of the ZTNA solution are imperative to ensure the enforcement of access controls and the correct functioning of the system. ZTNA implementation should be treated as an iterative process, with continuous feedback gathering, policy refinement, and enhanced visibility to adapt to changes in the network environment. Educational institutions must remain adaptive and strategic in their approach to overcome the challenges associated with implementing ZTNA.


Transitioning to a ZTNA strategy presents a significant opportunity for educational institutions to enhance their security posture and better protect sensitive data and resources. By following the recommended steps, educational institutions can embark on a journey toward securing their future through a ZTNA approach. It is imperative to regularly reassess and update security measures based on evolving information and feedback, paving the way for a more secure educational landscape that safeguards the future of our children.

Let’s put our trust in zero trust network access to ensure the security and resilience of our educational institutions, thus securing the future of generations to come.

Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives.

Source: forbes

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