Murray City School District (MCSD) in Utah takes pride in successfully using technology to close the homework gap, creating a more equal playing field for students to engage online for their education. The district was one of the few in the United States to provide free high-speed internet access to its students when the COVID-19 pandemic began, an achievement that earned this 6,000-student district coverage on NBC’s “Today” show and several other news outlets.
When the pandemic hit, MCSD sent each student home with a Google Chromebook for remote learning via the district’s LTE network. While this decision was necessary to support students through remote learning, it also put the school at risk for cyberattacks. The extension of internet access to thousands of endpoints for K to 12 students meant that the school district needed a robust security solution and partner to protect the endpoints and networks from ransomware and other emerging cyber threats. According to a recent report, cyberattacks on school districts grew 18% in 2020.1
“Having computers and free internet in all students’ hands can be a security risk. Kids naturally want to explore, so we knew we needed top-notch security protection and automation to guard against ransomware campaigns and other cyber threats,” says Jason Eyre, technology coordinator for the Murray City School District.
Eyre felt that the district’s previous security solution was not robust enough for their evolving needs. Their previous vendor’s support level was also inadequate to provide support for their relatively small IT security team. It also didn’t support newer Mac computers, leaving teachers at higher risk for malware infection.
1 - Alyson Klein, “Cyberattacks on Schools Soared During the Pandemic,” Education Week, March 10, 2021
Why Trend Micro?
MCSD turned to its integration partner, Teknologia, to find a solution that raised the bar in terms of Mac support, cost, and above all, customer service. Teknologia Enterprise Solution Architect Ira Ulibarri noticed that Trend Micro kept appearing in his research, and he remembered the excellent customer support he received when previously using Trend Micro solutions.
“The support experience is critical. You don’t want to be on the phone for an hour, which is what happened with other solution providers,” says Ulibarri.
Eyre says he was impressed by Trend Micro’s early detection. “I was immediately impressed by the company, the demo, and their position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Trend Micro is a leader when it comes to early detection and protection against new threats—and the speed at which it goes from finding a new threat to rolling out new protections was a differentiator,” says Eyre.
The responsiveness and support Eyre’s team sought was evident from the start.
"When we reached out to Trend Micro, they were immediately engaged and responded quickly and appropriately."
Murray City School
The district implemented Trend Micro Apex One™ as a Service in December 2020. Eyre says customization and easy configuration made the process smooth.
“The deployment was simple and didn’t impact the teacher’s work. Trend Micro went the extra mile to ensure that we never have to do this ourselves again. It has been one of the best sales engagements I’ve ever experienced,” says Eyre.
The district’s security team also likes that Trend Micro Apex One as a Service includes endpoint encryption and Trend Micro Vision One™ with XDR capabilities.
“Workload Security brings quick and consistent responses for any issue, not only meeting PCI DSS standards, but also meeting the team’s need for greater consolidation of information, delivered by a single dashboard within the cloud environment,” says Panella.
“XDR helps us with the root cause analysis to understand what’s happening in our environment,” says Eyre.
Trend Micro also brought in XentIT, a partner to help the district build an uninstaller for the old product.
“The uninstaller worked on 95% of everything we had so we could roll out the new Trend Micro solution very quickly,” says Eyre.
"XDR helps us with the root cause analysis to understand what’s happening in our environment."
Murray City School District
The district has now deployed Trend Micro Apex One as a Service on its desktops and it is protecting more than 900 endpoints.
“Trend Micro Apex One alerts us immediately about potential security incidents. This is one of the features we find most beneficial. It helps us understand when threats are happening. We are also pleased with the user experience. There’s no latency or frustration. We have one place to look for suspicious activity, so we always feel like we’re informed,” says Eyre.
He adds that Trend Micro Vison One combined with Trend Micro Apex One is nimble and can respond to anything his small staff encounters. “The way the products work together is great. I’ve looked at other solutions where you must buy lots of other products you may or may not use. The bundling and the way Trend Micro products are packaged make them easy to understand, navigate, and buy,” says Eyre.
The district’s no-cost internet program has been a success story that other districts are hoping to emulate. It also has recommended Trend Micro solutions to neighboring districts.
“We need to lead and help our peers in education so they can bring to their students and parents the best educational experience they can have,” says Eyre.