For decades, bad actors have exploited computer systems by finding vulnerabilities in the systems themselves, but now, in a vast world of connected devices, users have become the soft underbelly of each organization, especially in educational communities.

The dichotomy of maintaining network security while also preserving communication and the free exchange of information — a keystone of educational philosophy — has presented IT leaders with a unique obstacle.

Meanwhile, challenges such as IT talent shortages and insufficient funding for cybersecurity projects have educational institutions searching for solutions to secure their environments in the face of new risks.

“It has become much more evident that [cybersecurity] is something that they have to move forward on,” said Amelia Vance, director of education privacy for the Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank based in Washington D.C.

Education IT leaders and administrators are responding. According to two leading industry associations, Educause and the Consortium for School Networking, IT leaders in education named security as their top priority last year.

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