Wi-Fi Security: How WPA3 Improves the Wi-Fi Security of Educational Institutions to Prevent New Phishing and Malware Attacks

Securing Wi-Fi connections is indeed a critical step in protecting an organization’s network from malicious actors. By using WPA3, educational institutions can better protect their networks and the data transmitted over them. WPA3 provides enhanced encryption and authentication mechanisms, making it more difficult for threat actors to intercept and decrypt Wi-Fi traffic

With cloud-managed wireless architecture and the increasing use of IoT devices, many educational institutions today have various online functions. While it has its benefits, it also brings risks and challenges. Hence, wireless security has become highly significant. While passwords win you half the battle by ensuring authorized access, it does not secure the entire wireless network. Therefore, data encryption becomes crucial to determine the wireless network’s security. Besides, malicious actors are forever on the prowl to detect vulnerabilities in an institution’s wireless networks. Therefore, institutions need to implement robust wireless security controls, including but not limited to effective policies, standards, and protocols that can safeguard their valuable and sensitive information assets.

Know About Different Types of Wireless Security Protocols

Wireless security concerns data traffic over the air between wireless devices. It includes communications between wireless access points (APs) and the controller device and between the access points and the various endpoint devices connected to the Wi-Fi network. Generally, four encryption standards are prevalent in the industry.

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP): WEP was the first encryption algorithm developed by Wi-Fi Alliance for the 802.11 standards. The primary objective was to prevent malicious actors from snooping on information assets transmitted between the APs and the clients. However, no one uses WEP protocols as they have become outdated.

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA): WPA, an improvement on WEP, was more of an interim standard before developing a long-time replacement for WEP. While it uses the same RC4 encryption technology, it also uses Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) to improve WLAN functions.

WPA2: The successor to WPA, WPA2 is also known as 802.11i and offers better encryption and security by using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Besides, it provides an advanced authentication mechanism, Counter Mode with Cipher-Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol (CCMP). However, this standard also supports TKIP for devices that do not support CCMP.

WPA3: Wi-Fi Alliance introduced WPA3, an advanced version of WPA2, in 2018 as the most recent and secure security standard. It uses the latest security protocols, AES-128 and CCMP-128, and standardizes the 128-bit cryptographic suite to disallow obsolete security protocols.

How Does WPA3 Work?

WPA3 is a more advanced security protocol than WPA2 because it mandates the adoption of Protected Management Frames (PMF) to guard against eavesdropping and forging. In addition, while WPA2 uses AES-128 and CCMP-128. CCMP ensures better data confidentiality and message integrity by preventing unauthorized network users from accessing data. The WPA3 Enterprise mode offers optional 192-bit security encryption and advanced 48-bit IV protection for corporate, governmental, and financial information.

How is WPA3 Better than WPA2?

Though WPA2 is highly secure, it has a significant security flaw known as the key installation attack (KRACK) vulnerability. KRACK exploits the reinstallation of wireless encryption keys. Compared to WPA2 Personal, the Enterprise mode has a more robust authentication feature. However, the KRACK vulnerability affects all WPA2 implementations. WPA3 offers a more secure cryptographic handshake by replacing the PSK 4-way handshake with the more modern Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE). It is because SAE requires a new code with every interaction, replacing the reuse of encryption keys. In addition, SAE is an advanced mechanism because it allows the client or the AP to initiate contact as a one-off message instead of a multipart conversation. Since there is no open-ended communication between the client and the AP, WPA3 eliminates eavesdropping and forging. Such attacks usually occur on college campuses because of open Wi-Fi. WPA3 security eliminates these threats.

In addition, SAE flags users who exceed a specific number of password guesses. Therefore, it is more effective and makes the Wi-Fi network resistant to offline dictionary attacks. Since each connection requires a new encryption passphrase, it enables forward secrecy to prevent malicious actors from reusing a captured passcode to decrypt data. Thus, WPA3 safeguards the university’s data from threat actors. WPA3 works alongside Wi-Fi Easy Connect to simplify the onboarding process for IoT devices, especially those that do not have the QR code scan mechanism. In addition, the Wi-Fi Enhanced Open feature improves Wi-Fi network safety by using a new unique key to encrypt information between the AP and each client automatically.

Does WPA3 Have Any Vulnerabilities?

Research has shown that WPA3 has specific vulnerabilities, like the Dragonblood vulnerability. It is a downgrade attack where the malicious actor forces the device down to WPA2, exposing the network to offline dictionary attacks. However, software upgrades can mitigate these vulnerabilities, making WPA3 the most secure wireless protocol today.

The Dragonblood vulnerability is one drawback that can affect educational institutions more because of the higher number of floating network users. Malicious users can tweak the network and set the same Wi-Fi name for their smartphone internet connectivity.

Any unsecured device sharing the internet with such users can get deceived into thinking that it is connecting to the official Wi-Fi network of the university. This attack is an Evil Twin attack and can compromise vulnerable devices to make them unintentionally share confidential information with malicious actors. It happens because of the backward compatibility offered by WPA3. However, educational institutions can secure their systems by ensuring the use of robust passwords, securing admin accounts, and updating their network systems regularly.

How Can WPA3 Improve Wi-Fi Security?

So far, we have discussed how WPA3 overcomes the shortcomings of WPA2 and addresses concerns like the imperfect 4-way and the pre-shared key that expose enterprise networks to compromise. In addition, WPA3 provides excellent protection by making it more challenging to guess passwords. Here are some ways WPA3 can improve Wi-Fi security and prevent the latest AI-based phishing attacks on educational institutions and compromising student data.

Protects network devices: WPA3 keeps your devices secure while connecting to a wireless AP because it replaces WPA2 pre-shared key technology with SAE. It averts key reinstallation attacks and defends against offline dictionary attacks.

Protects passwords better: WPA3 enhances password strength by lengthening the encryption from 128-bits to 192-bits. Therefore, it becomes more challenging for malicious actors to crack passwords by guessing.

Secures connections in public areas: WPA3 provides PMF to prevent eavesdropping and forging attacks in public places. Though malicious actors can get the traffic encryption keys, it is challenging to calculate traffic usage. In addition, since WPA3 offers the advantage of forward secrecy, it provides more data security over open networks, usually observed on university campuses.

The Way Forward – What Cybersecurity Teams Should Know about WPA3

WPA3 has proved to be the most secure internet connection protocol today. Following are the critical aspects that all CSOs should know about WPA3.

  • Mandatory: According to Wi-Fi Alliance, since July 01, 2020, all new Wi-Fi-certified devices must use WPA3. As a result, all the latest gadgets are WPA3 compliant, and it is no longer an option for enterprise networks to use other standards for new devices today.
  • Interoperable: Though all new devices must be WPA3 compliant, the technology is backward compatible. It is interoperable with WPA2-complaint devices.
  • Latest security protocols: Since all new devices must mandatorily support WPA3, the latest gadgets will be available with the most advanced security protocols.
  • No password reuse: WPA3 forces all user devices to save and encrypt their passwords on the AP and client side. Therefore, reusing passwords is out of the question.

As educational institutions rely more on technology for various aspects, securing wireless networks has become more critical. Weak Wi-Fi connections can leave educational institutions vulnerable to phishing attacks, malware infections, and other types of cyber threats, and malicious actors are constantly looking for new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in Wi-Fi networks to gain unauthorized access and steal sensitive data.

Fortunately, the latest Wi-Fi security standard, WPA3, can help educational institutions strengthen their Wi-Fi networks and enhance their cybersecurity posture. WPA3 is designed to address the weaknesses of the previous versions of Wi-Fi security protocols and provides more robust encryption and authentication mechanisms. With the introduction of WPA3, educational institutions can better protect their networks and data against brute-force attacks or dictionary attacks.

Jason Claybrook

Strategic Consultant and Certified Wireless Design Professional (CWDP), Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP), Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)

About Columbia Advisory Group

Founded in Dallas in 2012, Columbia Advisory Group LLC (CAG) is an established IT consulting firm renowned for delivering cost-effective, meaningful, and practical IT solutions that solve complex business problems. Our seasoned teams offer comprehensive insight across diverse regulatory and economic environments, providing unbiased, straightforward analysis and recommendations. We pride ourselves on our deep understanding of IT while remaining software and hardware-agnostic. Regardless of your organization’s growth trajectory or economic landscape, we at CAG are adept at adapting to your unique needs and complexity, offering tailored solutions to drive your success.

Contact us at info@columbiaadvisory.com.

Why Salesforce Education Cloud is a Game-Changer for Higher Education Institutions

The rapidly evolving landscape of higher education demands innovative and efficient solutions to effectively manage student recruitment and alumni donations. Salesforce Education Cloud offers an ideal choice for institutions looking to streamline their processes and make data-driven decisions. In this blog post, we’ll explore the key features of Salesforce Education Cloud that make it a game-changer for higher education institutions.

Customizable Platform Tailored to Your Institution’s Needs

Salesforce Education Cloud is a highly customizable platform designed to cater to the specific needs of educational institutions. The platform can be tailored to fit the unique requirements of different institutions, enabling a more streamlined and efficient process for managing student recruitment and alumni donations (Salesforce, n.d.).

Centralized Database for Enhanced Data Management

One of the main advantages of Salesforce Education Cloud is its centralized database, which stores all information related to students, alumni, and prospective students in one place. This centralized approach simplifies data tracking and analysis, allowing institutions to make informed decisions about student recruitment and alumni donations (Salesforce, n.d.).

Seamless Integration with Other Systems

Salesforce Education Cloud integrates smoothly with a wide range of systems and applications, such as CRM and marketing automation tools (EDUCAUSE, 2021). This seamless integration makes it easier for institutions to manage the entire student lifecycle, from recruitment to alumni engagement, without the need for multiple disjointed systems. 

Automated Workflows for Increased Efficiency

The platform includes automated workflows that help higher education institutions manage student recruitment and alumni donations more efficiently. For instance, Salesforce Education Cloud can automate tasks like sending follow-up emails, tracking donations, and generating reports. This automation not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of errors and inconsistencies (Salesforce, n.d.).

Powerful Data Analytics for Data-Driven Decision Making

Salesforce Education Cloud offers robust data analytics tools that enable institutions to track the effectiveness of their student recruitment and alumni donation campaigns (Salesforce, n.d.). By leveraging these tools, higher education institutions can make data-driven decisions and identify areas for improvement, ultimately optimizing their processes and strategies.

Salesforce Education Cloud is an all-encompassing solution for higher education institutions seeking to streamline their student recruitment and alumni donation processes. With its customizable platform, centralized database, seamless integration with other systems, automated workflows, and powerful data analytics tools, Salesforce Education Cloud is truly a game-changer for higher education institutions.

References: Salesforce. (n.d.). Education Cloud for Higher Ed. Salesforce.com. Retrieved from https://www.salesforce.com/solutions/industries/education/higher-ed/

EDUCAUSE. (2021). CRM in Higher Education: A Review of Constituent Relationship Management and Its Role in Higher Education. EDUCAUSE. Retrieved from https://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/books/2021/crm-in-higher-education-a-review-of-constituent-relationship-management-and-its-role-in-higher-education

Sameer Vitvekar

Practice Leader

About Columbia Advisory Group

Founded in Dallas in 2012, Columbia Advisory Group LLC (CAG) is an established IT consulting firm renowned for delivering cost-effective, meaningful, and practical IT solutions that solve complex business problems. Our seasoned teams offer comprehensive insight across diverse regulatory and economic environments, providing unbiased, straightforward analysis and recommendations. We pride ourselves on our deep understanding of IT while remaining software and hardware-agnostic. Regardless of your organization’s growth trajectory or economic landscape, we at CAG are adept at adapting to your unique needs and complexity, offering tailored solutions to drive your success.

Contact us at info@columbiaadvisory.com.

Columbia Advisory Group Selected to Continue Providing Texas A&M University System Best-in-Class Technology Services

"We selected CAG for this Agreement because of our previous experience with the company. They are fully committed to TAMUS success. We can always count on them to respond quickly when we need them."

DALLAS, TEXAS, UNITED STATES, April 18, 2023/EINPresswire.com/ — Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) has been selected by Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) to significantly lower the operating cost of delivering Student Information Services while providing enhanced support of audit and compliance functions.

“We selected CAG for this Agreement because of our previous experience with the company and its consultants. They are fully committed to TAMUS success. We can always count on them to respond quickly when we need them, do an outstanding job with some of the toughest issues, and help keep costs under control,” said Mark Stone, Chief Information Officer, Texas A&M University System. “We look forward to continuing to work with CAG across many technology challenges.”

“Our substantial experience with student information and related systems at several TAMUS campuses and many other higher education clients, and our ability to operate systems across many platforms efficiently and securely, has helped us again win the opportunity to provide these and other expanded services to all members,” said David McLaughlin, President and CEO of CAG. “Our team excels technically but also cares about the outcomes for our clients and students. Our trusted consultants have led us to become the first call to address key issues that arise.”

CAG will continue to provide Ellucian Banner support to Texas A&M University System and its members under this agreement, helping to integrate, update, patch, and maintain this critical business system. As Banner and other systems migrate to cloud environments, CAG can provide support to advise and manage those migrations. In addition, TAMUS has selected CAG to provide ancillary IT support for cybersecurity, infrastructure, application support, and IT project management as needs arise across the state.

About Columbia Advisory Group
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a dynamic Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. An established and proven company with 100+ years of combined technology experience and business acumen, CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments. By focusing on simple, meaningful, and practical solutions combined with straight­ forward analysis and recommendations, CAG’s team has experience in many regulatory and economic environments with companies and organizations of all sizes. The industries representative of their clients includes higher education, healthcare and pharmacy, private equity and venture capital, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, media and publishing. CAG offers a deep understanding of IT, and its solutions are software and hardware agnostic. Whether a client is a high growth or economically challenged, CAG can adapt to the complexities and nuances of that organization. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.columbiaadvisory.com.

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $7.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 152,000 students and makes more than 24 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.

Haley Rose, CMO
Columbia Advisory Group

How Educational Institutions Can Choose the Most Effective Wi-Fi Security Solutions to Protect their Critical Information Assets

Educational institutions have large amounts of critical data at risk like any other organization. Hence, Wi-Fi security and the right solutions are vital for such organizations. This article will examine the importance of Wi-Fi security solutions for educational institutions and explore effective strategies to safeguard their critical data from today’s cyber threats.

Wi-Fi networks have become an integral component of the day-to-day operations of educational institutions, highlighting the critical need for robust security measures to mitigate potential cyber threats. This extensive reliance on technology brings a new set of challenges for IT administrators, as the security of these networks is constantly at risk. Hence, educational institutions must choose the most robust Wi-Fi security solutions to protect their critical information assets.

This article discusses the key considerations when choosing the best Wi-Fi security solutions for educational institutions and the importance of staying ahead regarding security threats.

Critical Information Assets That are at Risk in Higher Education

Educational institutions have a wide range of critical information assets at risk of being compromised in today’s world, which is increasingly digitized. These assets may include student and faculty records, intellectual property, financial data, and other confidential and sensitive information. 

The risks associated with such assets can range from data breaches and identity theft to ransomware and malware attacks. Therefore, educational institutions must proactively protect their critical information assets. That includes implementing robust security measures such as data encryption, secured Wi-Fi connection, firewall protection, and regular security audits.

Wi-Fi Security: Significance for Schools, Colleges, and Universities 

The importance of Wi-Fi security in educational settings should not be underestimated. Wi-Fi has become an essential part of the digital learning environment, and its security is vitally important for the safety of educational institutions like schools, colleges, and universities. These institutions must have strong Wi-Fi security measures to prevent malicious attacks on their networks that could potentially lead to a data breach. 

That is particularly true for universities, which often store sensitive research data on their networks. By implementing robust Wi-Fi security measures, such as authentication, encryption, password policies, and other security policies and procedures, universities can protect their research data and ensure their networks remain safe from malicious activity.

Choosing the Most Effective Wi-Fi Security Solutions: Key Considerations

You will come across many options when selecting the most effective Wi-Fi security solutions. Understanding the following key considerations in the selection process is critical to ensure the most efficient and secure outcome.

Choosing an AI-Driven Solution

One of the more recent options available for Wi-Fi security is using an AI-driven solution. Such a solution can provide many benefits, including improved network performance and enhanced security. AI-driven solutions are specifically designed to detect and prevent malicious activity on a Wi-Fi network. Using machine learning algorithms, these solutions can quickly detect and block malicious activity and provide real-time reporting and alerting of potential threats. 

AI-driven security solutions can integrate automated and intelligent threat detection, analysis, and response capabilities into the security infrastructure. That provides a higher level of protection for Wi-Fi networks by allowing faster and more accurate detection of malicious activity and the ability to respond to potential threats in real time. Furthermore, AI-driven security solutions can continuously learn and adapt to changing network environments, allowing organizations to stay ahead of the latest threats.

Wireless Network Security Protocol

When it comes to wireless network security, choosing an effective and reliable solution is paramount. Different security solutions offer various levels of protection and come with multiple features and capabilities.

The three main types of Wi-Fi security protocols include Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), and Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2). Each option offers different levels of protection and has advantages and disadvantages.

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)

Wired Equivalent Privacy, commonly known as WEP, is a security protocol used on a Wi-Fi network to provide an encrypted connection between a wireless access point and a client. WEP was first introduced in 1999 but has since been replaced by more secure protocols, such as WPA and WPA2. However, WEP is still commonly used in older Wi-Fi networks or networks with a limited budget.

The encryption protocol used by WEP is based on the RC4 stream cipher. As a result, it is vulnerable to several attacks, such as replay attacks, weak IVs (initialization vectors), and key cracking. These vulnerabilities are amplified when the WEP key is short or weak.

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)

Wi-Fi Protected Access, often called WPA, is a security protocol to protect wireless networks from unauthorized access. WPA advances the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol, the original security standard for wireless networks. WPA was created to address the vulnerabilities of WEP and provide a more secure and robust protocol for wireless communications.

WPA uses encryption and authentication to protect communications over a wireless network. The encryption is implemented through TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol), designed to dynamically generate a new encryption key for each data packet transmitted.

Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2)

WPA2 is an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11i protocol released in 2004 as an advanced security protocol for wireless networks, replacing the older one. WPA2 provides more security than WPA by employing the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to encrypt data and authentication.

WPA2 also increases the strength of a wireless network by using a longer and more complex key that requires authentication from both the wireless access point and the client.

Selection of a Trusted Solution Provider

Another critical consideration when looking for the most effective Wi-Fi security solutions is to choose a trusted solution provider. It is of paramount importance as the security of the Wi-Fi network will depend on the quality of the solutions provided.

It is vital to ensure that the solutions being used comply with applicable security regulations while providing the necessary levels of protection. Additionally, they should be designed to minimize the risk of malicious attacks and protect data and confidential information. The provider should also have a comprehensive support system to assist in the event of an issue or problem.

Migrating from WPA2 to WPA3, and Why Does it Matter?

WPA3 offers a more secure and reliable Wi-Fi network than the older WPA2 protocol. WPA2 and WPA3 are two widely used security protocols in Wi-Fi network systems. Migrating from WPA2 to WPA3 is increasingly becoming necessary for many organizations.

WPA2 was first introduced in 2004 and is still used by many organizations despite its known vulnerabilities. WPA3, on the other hand, was designed to address these vulnerabilities, as it is based on a more advanced security protocol called Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE). This protocol uses more robust encryption algorithms and provides more secure authentication methods than WPA2. WPA3 includes an “Individualized Data Encryption” feature, which provides a unique encryption key for each user, making it even more secure.

Best Practices for Wi-Fi Security in Educational Institutions

The following are the best practices all educational institutions must adopt to ensure the security of their Wi-Fi network and critical data assets.

  • Implement strong password policies and best practices for secure Wi-Fi network usage.
  • Use advanced encryption protocols like WPA2 or WPA3 to secure the institution’s Wi-Fi network.
  • Utilize firewalls and WAF (Web Access Firewall) to protect an institution’s on-premise and cloud infrastructure and create a secure barrier for adversaries.
  • Regularly patch and update existing networks, devices, and operating systems.
  • Use anti-phishing, antivirus, and antimalware software solutions that leverage AI (Artificial Intelligence).
  • Limit access to certain services and sites by leveraging whitelisting and blacklisting to control the ingress and egress traffic.
  • Implement a guest and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) remote access policies, start implementing a zero-trust approach, and limit access to the network from non-school devices.

As educational institutions become increasingly connected and digitalized, they must ensure they have the most secure Wi-Fi and network through efficient security solutions. By selecting the correct security protocols, restrictions, and authentication mechanisms, educational institutions can ensure that critical information and students’ data remain fully protected. Also, risk assessments are vital to ensuring that all possible vulnerabilities are identified and rectified, allowing for a securely connected environment.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at info@columbiaadvisory.com.


  1. Efforts Solutions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven Smart Wi-Fi. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from Efforts Solutions IT website: https://effortz.com/ai-driven-smart-wifi/
  2. Irei, A. & Scarpati, J. (2022, December). Wireless security: WEP, WPA, WPA2 and WPA3 differences. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from Networking website: https://www.techtarget.com/searchnetworking/feature/Wireless-encryption-basics-Understanding-WEP-WPA-and-WPA2
  3. Kerravala, Z. (2019, March 6). Why Wi-Fi needs artificial intelligence. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from Network World website: https://www.networkworld.com/article/3355237/why-wi-fi-needs-artificial-intelligence.html
  4. Leininger, L. (2022, August 1). 2022 Public Wi-Fi Statistics: How do we use it and is it safe? Retrieved February 16, 2023, from Highspeedinternet.com website: https://www.highspeedinternet.com/resources/public-wi-fi-statistics
  5. Metzler, S. WPA3: The ultimate guide. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from SecureW2 website: https://www.securew2.com/blog/wpa3-the-ultimate-guide
  6. Security Uncorked. Wi-Fi security: WPA2 vs. WPA3 – security uncorked. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2023, from Securityuncorked.com website: https://securityuncorked.com/2022/08/wifi-security-wpa2-vs-wpa3/
  7. Mordor Intelligence. Wireless Network Security Market. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2023, from Mordorintelligence.com website: https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/wireless-network-security-market
  8. The Best Practices for School Network Security in 2020. Smile Business Products. https://www.smilebpi.com/the-best-practices-for-school-network-security-in-2020/
  9. Hommel, W., Metzger, S., & Steinke, M. (n.d.). Information Security Risk Management in Higher Education Institutions: From Processes to Operationalization. Retrieved February 17, 2023, from Eunis.org website: https://www.eunis.org/download/2015/papers/EUNIS2015_submission_48.pdf

Jason Claybrook

Strategic Consultant and Certified Wireless Design Professional (CWDP), Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP), Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)

What is Salesforce Education Cloud and Why Should Higher Education Consider It?

Salesforce Education Cloud is a cloud-based platform designed specifically for the education industry. It provides tools and resources that can help educators, administrators, and students manage, track, and analyze academic data, as well as communicate and collaborate more effectively. Some specific use cases for Salesforce Education Cloud include:

  1. Student and academic data management: Education Cloud can be used to store and manage student records, including demographics, grades, transcripts, and other relevant information. This can help educators and administrators keep track of student progress and identify areas for improvement.
  2. Course and program management: Education Cloud can be used to create and manage courses and programs, including schedules, curricula, and assessments. This can help educators and administrators track student progress and ensure that students are meeting academic goals.
  3. Collaboration and communication: Education Cloud provides platform for collaboration and communication, such as group chat and file sharing, which can be used by educators, students, and administrators to work together more effectively.
  4. Analytics and reporting: Education Cloud includes a range of analytics and reporting tools that can be used to track student progress and identify areas for improvement. This can help educators and administrators make data-driven decisions about how to best support student success. 

There are several reasons why higher education institutions should consider implementing Salesforce Education Cloud:

  1. Improved student engagement: Salesforce Education Cloud provides tools and resources to help higher education institutions better engage with their students. By using the platform, institutions can track student interactions, provide personalized support, and keep students informed about important updates and events. This can help to improve student satisfaction and retention rates.
  2. Increased efficiency: Salesforce Education Cloud can help higher education institutions streamline their operations and increase efficiency. By using the platform, institutions can automate many administrative tasks, such as scheduling, course registration, and student record-keeping. This can free up time and resources that can be better utilized in other areas of the business.
  3. Enhanced collaboration: Salesforce Education Cloud also provides tools and resources to help higher education institutions improve collaboration and communication between faculty, staff, and students. By using the platform, institutions can easily share documents, collaborate on projects, and communicate with students in real-time.
  4. Better data management: Salesforce Education Cloud can also help higher education institutions improve their data management processes. By using the platform, institutions can easily store and access student data, such as transcripts, enrollment records, and course schedules. This can help to improve decision-making and better track student progress.
  5. Configuration: Salesforce Education Cloud is highly configurable, which means that higher education institutions can tailor the platform to meet their specific needs. Institutions can choose which features and modules to use and can integrate the platform with other systems and tools.

In conclusion, Salesforce Education Cloud can provide numerous benefits to higher education institutions, including improved student engagement, increased efficiency, enhanced collaboration, better data management, and customization. By implementing Salesforce Education Cloud, higher education institutions can streamline their operations and better serve their students.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at .

Sameer Vitvekar

MS in Business Analytics, Accounting, and Economics

Understanding the Difference Between SOC 2 Type 1 And SOC 2 Type 2 Reports

Protecting customers’ data is crucial for any business in today’s cyber-risky digital world. Hence, organizations must ensure compliance with System and Organization Controls (SOC 2) and demonstrate that they follow the best data security practices. Understanding the difference between SOC 2 Type 1 and Type 2 reports and implementing them can help businesses maintain peace of mind while ensuring adequate data protection.

SOC 2 compliance refers to a set of privacy and security standards for service providers designated by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). Although complying with SOC 2 is not mandatory, customers often demand it from organizations they interact with, especially cloud-based services, to ensure that their data is protected. Organizations looking to meet compliance standards must ensure specific service controls and procedures regarding their information systems’ confidentiality, security, availability, and processing integrity. The systems include the organization’s people, processes, technology, physical infrastructure, and servers.

What is a SOC 2 Report?

To get a SOC 2 report, an organization providing services must undergo a third-party audit. The SOC 2 auditor will be either an American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) certified firm or a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). They will evaluate your security posture and determine if your controls, policies, and processes comply with the SOC 2 requirements.

The audit reports assess if the service providers undergoing the review have drafted and implemented effective procedures meeting the SOC 2 objectives. Enterprises that successfully pass the SOC 2 audit use the compliance designation to demonstrate that they are committed to the security and privacy of their customers and stakeholders.

SOC 2 is one of the three types of SOC reports. The other two are SOC 1 and SOC 3. A brief description of all three follows:

  • SOC 1 Reports: AICPA mainly developed the SOC 1 framework targeting third-party service providers, which assures your clients that you are handling their financial information safely and securely. SOC1 reports giving your clients an objective evaluation regarding controls addressing compliance, operations, and internal controls over financial reporting.
  • SOC 2 Reports: The SOC 2 framework helps businesses demonstrate their compliance to security controls. After organizations started measuring the effectiveness of their security controls through the SAS 70 audit standard, AICPA developed SOC 2 with an emphasis on security. It is rooted in the Trust Services Criteria or TCS (discussed later). It provides assurance about the internal controls related to TSC and comprehensive information on auditor’s testing in an organization.
  • SOC 3 Reports: The AICPA says that an organization prepares a SOC 3 report to meet the requirements of clients who want assurance regarding the controls related to processing integrity, security, availability, privacy, or confidentiality of a service provider but do not know how to use a SOC 2 report effectively. Thus, SOC 3 contains the same information as SOC 2 but is drafted for a general audience.

Understanding SOC 2 Reports:

  • SOC 2 Type 1: This report focuses on the ‘design’ of an enterprise’s security controls at a specific moment. It describes the existing controls and procedures, reviewing the documents around these controls. Furthermore, it validates the adequacy of all administrative, logical, and technical controls.
  • SOC 2 Type 2: It focuses on the ‘design’ and ‘operating effectiveness’ of controls and takes longer to assess the controls, typically between 3-12 months, and includes the auditor running penetration tests to monitor how the organization handles data security risks over a period. The independent review confirms that the enterprise strictly complies with the requirements outlined by AICPA. The SOC 2 Type 2 audit process includes:
    • Reviewing the audit scope
    • Creating a project plan
    • Testing controls for design and operational effectiveness
    • Authenticating the results
    • Delivering the organization’s report.

Organizations new to compliance can easily confuse SOC 2 Type 1 and Type 2 reports. SOC 2 Type 1 differs from Type 2 in that it assesses the security setup and process design at a specific time. On the other hand, the Type 2 report (also written as “Type II”) estimates how adequate the controls are over a more extended period by observing operations for usually six to 12 months.

Why Would You Need to Comply with SOC 2?

Following are the six reasons why organizations must obtain a SOC 2 compliance report:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Some businesses might think that audit costs are high. However, a SOC 2 audit helps avoid security breaches that are far costlier. For instance, in 2021, a data breach cost more than $4.2 million on average – a figure rising yearly.
  • Competitive advantage: A SOC 2 report will give you an edge over competitors who cannot demonstrate compliance.
  • Peace of mind: Passing the stringent SOC 2 audit assures improved security posture for your networks and information systems.
  • Regulatory compliance: SOC 2’s requirements sync with other frameworks, like the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 27001 and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Thus, the certification can boost your organization’s overall compliance efforts.
  • Insights: A SOC 2 report gives valuable insights into your business’s risk and security posture, internal controls governance, vendor management, regulatory oversight, and more.

What is Required for SOC 2 Compliance?

You can attract more business with security covered. However, those operating in the finance or banking sector or an industry where confidentiality and privacy are paramount must achieve a higher compliance standard. AICPA defines SOC 2 based on the Trust Services Criteria, which have the following principles:

  • Security: It focuses on operational/governance controls to protect your data and demonstrate that systems at a service organization are protected against unauthorized access and other risks that could impact the service organization’s ability to provide the services promised to clients. All SOC 2 requirements are optional except those that fall under Security. Selecting additional SOC 2 principles may vary based on the type of data you store or process,
  • Availability: It focuses on the accessibility of the system and how you maintain and monitor your infrastructure, data, and software to ensure you have the system components and processing capacity to meet your business objectives.

SOC 2 compliance requirements in the ‘Availability’ category include:

  1. Measuring current usage: Establishing a capacity management baseline to evaluate the risk of availability caused by capacity constraints.
  2. Identifying environmental threats: Assessing ecological threats that can impact system availability, like adverse weather, power cuts, fire, or failure of environmental control systems.
  • Processing integrity: It focuses on delivering the correct data at the right time and place. Furthermore, data processing must be accurate, valid, and authorized.

SOC 2 compliance requirements in the ‘Processing integrity’ category include:

  1. Creating and maintaining records for system inputs: Compiling accurate records of all the system input activities.
  2. Defining processing activities: This ensures that the products or services meet specifications.
  • Confidentiality: It restricts disclosure of and access to private data so that only specific, authorized organizations or people can view it. Confidential data can include business plans, sensitive financial information, customer data, or intellectual property.

SOC 2 compliance requirements in the ‘Confidentiality’ category include:

  1. Identifying confidential information: Implementing procedures to identify personal and sensitive information when you create or receive it and determine how long you must retain it.
  2. Destroying confidential information: Implementing procedures to erase sensitive information identified and marked for destruction.
  • Privacy: It focuses on the organization’s adherence to the client’s privacy safeguards and AICPA’s generally accepted privacy principles (GAPP). The SOC category considers methods for collecting, using, and retaining personal information and the process for the disposal and disclosure of data.

SOC 2 compliance requirements in the ‘Privacy’ category include:

  1. Using clear and conspicuous language: The organization’s privacy notice must be clear and coherent, leaving no chance for misinterpretation.
  2. Collecting information from reliable sources: The organization confirms third-party data sources are trustworthy and operates its data collection process legally and fairly.

Additional SOC 2 Compliance Checklist

SOC 2 compliance bases itself on the five Trust Services Categories: availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, privacy, and security. Security forms the SOC 2 compliance baseline and includes broad criteria familiar to all trust service categories.

The security principle focuses on the service’s asset and data protection against unauthorized access or use. Organizations can implement access controls to prevent unauthorized data removal, malicious attacks, misuse of the organization’s software, or unsanctioned disclosure of organizational information.

The essential SOC 2 compliance checklist (that will satisfy the auditor) should address these controls:

  • Physical and logical access controls: How the organization restricts and manages physical and logical access to prevent unauthorized access.
  • System operations: How the organization manages its system operations to detect and prevent deviations from set procedures.
  • Change management: How the organization implements a controlled change management process and mitigates unauthorized changes.
  • Risk management: How the organization identifies and develops risk mitigation activities while navigating business disruptions and using vendor services.

Does Law Require SOC 2 Certification?

Generally, you do not need SOC 2 compliance certification legally. However, most Software-as-a-system (SaaS) and business-to-business (B2B) vendors should consider getting certified if they haven’t already because SOC 2 is a crucial requirement in vendor contracts.

Can You Use Software to Speed Up SOC 2 Compliance?

As mentioned, SOC 2 primarily revolves around policies and processes and is concerned little about technical tasks. Hence, there is no dedicated, automated tool that will quickly make your business SOC 2 compliant.

Furthermore, the SOC 2 requirements are not prescriptive; hence you must define your processes and controls for SOC 2 compliance and then use automated tools to make their implementation easy. Thus, a system will monitor and alert you whenever a technical control failure occurs. For example, suppose one of the limits of your control offers access to your systems to specific administrators. You can deploy a tool that tracks and retrieves the status of permissions in real time.

For every implemented control, think of the evidence you will present to the auditor. You must remember that defining a rule is merely a part of the SOC 2 compliance requirements; you must demonstrate that it works effectively. 

SOC 2 Vs. SOC 1: How To Determine if the SOC 2 Audit is for You?

CPAs may choose to go for either a SOC 1 or SOC 2 compliance audit. You must comply with SOC 2 Type 2 if you store customer data. To determine if you require a SOC 2 audit, you must start by knowing how SOC 2 differs from SOC 1.

  • SOC 1: SOC 1 compliance considers controls relevant to an organization’s internal control over financial reporting. The reports can be either Type 1 or Type 2. The Type 1 report signifies that the enterprise suitably defines and implements the rules in operation. The Type 2 report would offer these assurances, including an opinion if the controls were adequate throughout an extended period.
  • SOC 2: SOC 2 compliance is voluntary for service organizations who wish to demonstrate their commitment to information security. Same as above, SOC 2 reports are also of two types.

Your organization must pursue SOC 1 if your services affect your clients’ financial reporting. For example, if your enterprise creates software processing your clients’ collections and billing data, you are impacting their financial reporting, and hence a SOC 1 is appropriate. Another reason enterprises prefer SOC 1 is that their clients demand a “right to audit.” Without SOC 1, it can be a time-intensive and costly process for both parties, especially if a few of your clients ask to submit a similar request. Additionally, you must comply with SOC 1 as a compliance requirement.

On the other hand, no compliance framework like HIPAA or PCI-DSS requires you to be SOC 2 compliant. In other words, if your business does not process financial data but only hosts or processes other data types, you require the SOC 2 report. With today’s business environment becoming extraordinarily aware and sensitive regarding data breaches, your clients will want proof that you are taking adequate precautions to protect their data and prevent any leaks.

Thus, the choice to pursue either SOC 1 or SOC 2 certification depends on your organization’s operational profile. A critical determining factor when choosing between SOC 1 and SOC 2 is your organization’s controls affecting your client’s control over financial reporting. You can engage an audit firm to determine whether SOC 1 or SOC 2 certification (or both) is the right fit for your enterprise.

A thorough understanding of the difference between SOC 2 Type 1 and SOC 2 Type 2 reports will help service providers handle their customers’ data with appropriate security. They must consider investing in the technical audit necessary for a SOC 2 report to protect their clients’ non-financial yet confidential and sensitive data. Many clients today expect SOC 2 compliance from their service providers, and if you are SOC 2 compliant, it demonstrates your dedication to cybersecurity.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a leading Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments, including many higher education institutions, state agencies, and Fortune 50 customers. Practice specialty areas include Infrastructure, IT Service Management, Cybersecurity, and A/V Services. CAG improves business outcomes with IT insights and expert technical support. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. Contact us at .


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  3. Johnson, B. (2022, September 30). The Differences Between SOC 1 vs SOC 2. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from Strongdm.com website: https://www.strongdm.com/blog/soc-1-vs-soc-2
  4. Picotte, A. (2020, May 5). SOC 2 compliance requirements: Essential knowledge for security audits. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from Uptycs.com website: https://www.uptycs.com/blog/soc-2-compliance-requirements
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Reciprocity. (2022, November 9). 6 Reasons Why You Need SOC 2 Compliance. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from Reciprocity.com website: https://reciprocity.com/blog/6-reasons-why-you-need-soc-2-compliance/

Lori Demello

Director, Compliance and Risk Management

Texas A&M University – Commerce faculty worked with CAG to provide human connection to assisted living residents.

CAG is proud of the work that our own Dr. Chris Jones is doing with the faculty at Texas A&M University – Commerce to help assisted-living residents stay in touch with relatives using robotic technology. It is just one more way we encourage our on-site staff like Dr. Jones at our University IT managed service sites to seamlessly work with faculty to support tech innovation.

As social distancing requirements surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have shifted the way we interact with the world around us, researchers at Texas A&M University-Commerce are seizing the opportunity to further their research into the connection between humans and robots.

Dr. Rebecca Judd, associate professor and department head for the School of Social Work, and Dr. Chris Jones, lead web application developer in the Center for IT Excellence, have placed a service robot at Legacy Assisted-Living & Memory Care in Denison, Texas. They hope the robot, named Temi, will help isolated residents communicate with loved ones outside of the facility.

“Assistive robots offer a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable populations,” says Judd. Many long-term care patients are unable to utilize smart phone technology due to physical or cognitive disabilities.

Standing just over 3 feet tall, Temi is a robot on wheels with a ten-inch touchscreen display used to interact with humans. The robot can identify, understand and respond to voice commands. It can navigate through hallways, remember room locations and maneuver effortlessly around obstacles in its path. It can check the weather, play music or even tell a joke.

Residents can use voice or touch commands to video conference with their family members through Temi’s digital display, which is visually similar to a tablet computer. When a call is received, Temi can steer its way to the resident’s location while the caller looks on through the built-in camera. Callers can spend time with their loved ones, almost as if they were actually in the room. Temi can follow the resident during the call, and return home to its power base afterward to recharge.

“Social work is based on human relationships; we can learn to deploy the robots in ways to improve the overall human condition,” Judd continued. “Whether it’s helping a family member make meaningful contact with a loved one during the current pandemic, or placing robots in schools to help children with special needs overcome daily challenges.”

Temi has the ability to do much more during its time at the assisted-living facility. Temi can assist the staff as they monitor and care for the residents. It can roam hallways autonomously, check in on patients and get help if needed. The unit can also be steered by staff members through an app. Soon, Temi will be able to record a patient’s vitals and update their records by connecting to peripheral devices such as thermometers, weight scales and blood-pressure cuffs.

Jones says the possibilities are endless. He collaborates with the company in California that produces Temi, and estimates there are roughly fifteen-thousand Temi units worldwide. They’re all connected to a cloud-based neural network, so they learn from each other as each unit experiences and overcomes new challenges. A Software Development Kit (SDK) is available so that developers like himself can program Temi for other functions.

“It’s an autonomous computer on wheels and it’s a blank slate,” said Jones. “That’s perfect for developers because we can make them do anything we want them to do. The sky is the limit.”

He says the robots can be used for a wide range of purposes in homes, businesses, stores and restaurants, universities, libraries and museums, and the hospitality industry.

Jones hopes to see more Temi robots around campus. He believes, as universities and schools begin to embrace artificial intelligence robots like Temi, people will find it easier to interact freely with technology.

“This is where we’re moving to,” Jones says. “We’re integrating technology with people, and this is how easy it is to interface with these technologies.”

Columbia Advisory Group Endows Scholarship to University

Texas A&M University-Commerce would like to thank Columbia Advisory Group for committing to provide a $30,000 scholarship endowment for deserving students.

“We’ve become very impressed over the last few years with Texas A&M University-Commerce and wanted to help support the school however we could,” said David McLaughlin, president of Columbia Advisory Group.

Columbia Advisory Group is an information technology consulting firm that handles IT support for the university and assists A&M-Commerce Chief Information Officer Tim Murphy with decisions regarding processes and strategic planning.

“Columbia Advisory Group was most gracious when we approached them about establishing a scholarship endowment at A&M-Commerce,” said Vice President of Advancement Randy VanDeven. “Their generous commitment demonstrates their passion to support higher education and what better way to make an impact than by helping students with the costs of acquiring an education.”

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