The urgent need for Identity & Access Management at Universities and Educational Institutions

Cyber threats can affect any educational setting, from elementary schools to universities, whether online or brick-and-mortar. Limited resources, budget constraints, outdated software, and inadequate security systems, cause some of the biggest risks. 

Education ranks as the fifth most targeted industry for security breaches in the United States, with more than 1600 publicly disclosed cyberattacks on schools between 2016 and 2022. Just last year, a security lapse in India’s Education Ministry app, Diksha, exposed millions of students’ and teachers’ personally identifying information due to an unprotected cloud server storing the data.

With the increasing adoption of technology in education, and even more so after the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for Identity & Access Management (IAM) systems is now vital for security and productivity at educational institutions.

But first, what are the unique challenges in IAM for educational institutions?

Diverse user base

Educational institutions cater to a diverse range of users including students, faculty, staff, administrators, and sometimes even external collaborators. Managing identities and access rights for such a diverse user base can be complex.

Outdated IT systems

Limited IT budgets result in legacy systems that are challenging to maintain, costly to fix, and may lack effective customer service. They also pose security risks due to outdated infrastructure. Users with multiple roles face challenges as each role is treated as a separate ID, leading to multiple credentials and fragmented access.

Remote learning

The rise of remote learning and the prevalence of BYOD or Bring Your Own Device policies have introduced additional difficulties in managing identities and securing access to resources. Educational institutions must ensure secure access to resources from any location and on any device while maintaining data privacy and security.

Data breach risks

Educational institutions handle large amounts of personal and sensitive information, including academic records, personal information, and research data making them prime targets for data breaches. Maintaining data security is essential for building trust and preventing breaches or leaks.

Changing user roles

Colleges and universities frequently onboard and offboard thousands of new users or new students each semester, each of whom require access to university resources before arriving on campus. Also, access for graduating students needs to be disabled promptly. Also, colleges handle transient users on a massive scale, including students taking semesters off and contingent faculty.

Manual provisioning and de-provisioning

Manual provisioning and de-provisioning of user access leads to high costs, security threats, and help desk overload. Manual authorization workflows for user access are prone to delays, mistakes, and compliance/security concerns. IT staff are responsible for frequently authorizing access requests, leading to inefficiencies. Also, there is a lack of auditing.

No integration with cloud-based platforms

Educational institutions face challenges integrating IAM systems with cloud-based platforms. The absence of dedicated IT help desk teams results in an increased workload for IT staff to resolve password and account unlock requests.

How can IAM address these challenges?

Centralized management and access

IAM solutions provide a centralized platform for managing user identities, authentication, and authorization. This helps to streamline user provisioning, de-provisioning, and access management across the institution, reducing administrative overhead. 

For users too, with a single sign-on provided by an IAM platform, all applications are brought onto a single platform. This eliminates the hassle of multiple passwords and logins and makes the login process fast and effortless.

Automated provisioning and de-provisioning

A comprehensive IAM solution like Akku automates the process of provisioning and de-provisioning user accounts based on predefined rules and policies. 

This ensures users have timely access to resources they need and access is revoked promptly upon role changes or departure from an institution, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. Also, IAM solutions implement role-based access. This granular control ensures users have access only to resources necessary for their job functions.

Learn-from-anywhere security

IAM solutions often go beyond user permissions to access applications. For example, Akku offers extensive access management features that let you permit access to your institution’s resources only from specific whitelisted network IP addresses, or only from whitelisted devices.

Suspicious login attempts can also be identified and flagged when a user attempts to log in from an unfamiliar location or at an unexpected time.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Many IAM solutions offer MFA capabilities, adding an extra layer of security beyond passwords. By requiring users to authenticate using multiple factors such as passwords, biometrics, or one-time codes, MFA helps prevent unauthorized access even if credentials are compromised.

Akku makes implementation of MFA effortless and cost-effective with a range of authentication factors to choose from, including passwordless authentication.

Integration with LMS and other education-specific platforms

IAM solutions integrate with LMS platforms and other applications used in educational settings, which allows for single sign-on (SSO) capabilities, enabling users to access multiple resources with a single set of credentials, thereby enhancing user experience and productivity.

With Akku, the process of integration is effortless with plug-and-play connectors to over 500 popular applications.

Auditing and compliance reporting

An end-to-end IAM solution like Akku provides robust auditing and reporting capabilities, allowing institutions to monitor user activity, track access privileges, and generate compliance reports. Akku’s Smart Analytics dashboard provides clear visibility across the institution’s users as well as intelligent insights on unused application licenses, provisioned user access, and more.


IAM solutions can help educational institutions improve security, streamline administrative processes, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, enabling a safer learning environment for students and staff. Akku’s IAM solutions are tailored to meet these unique challenges, so reach out to us today so we can help you stay secure.