Kingston University is a thriving higher education institution spread out over four campuses in southwest London. With more than 17,000 students, 2,000 staff, 6,500 devices — including Macs, PCs, and short-loan laptops — and a sizeable cloud environment to protect, there’s plenty to keep Chief Information Officer Simon Harrison busy.
Universities are increasingly in the crosshairs of online attackers who believe porous networks and underinvestment in cybersecurity by some make them an easy target. Data breaches at UK universities have doubled over the past two years, according to FOI data, as state-sponsored hackers and financially motivated gangs look to steal highly valuable research data. Additionally, phishing attempts targeting students have rocketed in recent months, while ransomware is an ever-present danger.
“Many of our students use our devices to support their learning and for social activities, which exposes them to attacks. We are looking to protect endpoints and servers from ransomware, malware, spyware and so on,” says Harrison. “If we’re not well protected, people can introduce infected files onto our cloud servers and on-site storage via their own devices or flash drives.”
"When we started this journey, we were primarily interested in protecting the devices we owned. But through conversations with Trend Micro, the partner relationship has grown where we are now able to provide Trend Micro Antivirus to our students and staff as well."
Chief Information Officer, Kingston University
Like many organisations, Kingston University is currently undergoing a digital transformation journey designed to improve learning, teaching, and research outcomes, as well as IT resilience and service delivery. As part of this ongoing, multi-year initiative, security has always been front-of-mind, according to Harrison. Apart from the risk of data loss and ransomware-based service outages — which would have a huge impact on staff and students — there’s a reputational risk if university services are seen to be sending out malware, he explains.
To provide assurance to the Board and Audit and Risk Committee, Harrison devised several key requirements:
- IT security infrastructure must address the growing diversity of the threat landscape
- Proactive threat protection with a high degree of management and granular analytics
- Protection across endpoints and hybrid cloud servers
- Connected, layered defence to complement existing next-gen firewalls
“Having recognised that what we had wouldn’t be good enough for the future, it became a story of how to find a vendor to meet our requirements for endpoint, server and cloud technologies,” explains Harrison.
Why Trend Micro
After evaluating recommendations from Gartner and Forrester and speaking with a number of contacts in universities and other organisations, Harrison and his team began appraising several vendors. They ran proof of concept tests to see if marketing claims matched the reality of protecting the Kingston University IT environment. In the end, they settled on Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Complete to protect physical endpoints and the university cloud services, including Microsoft® Office 365® and Box, which contain around half of the university’s core process-enabling applications.
"We’re offering the students and staff the ability to protect themselves. Our students and staff see this as a benefit, and from our point of view, these devices that connect to our network are more likely to be virus free. It improves the digital health of the entire ecosystem to everyone’s mutual benefit."
Chief Information Officer, Kingston University
Procurement and implementation was straightforward, and thanks to channel partner Longwall Security, the Trend Micro solution was quickly set up and configured to maximise protection for Kingston University’s specific IT environment and needs.
Powered by XGen™ for cross-generational, multi-layered security, Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Complete protects endpoints, mobile devices, email and cloud apps, and web activity from a single interface. It allowed the organisation to:
- Regain control of end-user IT by centralising threat and data protection across multiple layers
- Stop ransomware from encrypting endpoints
- Block zero-day malware with signature-less techniques
- Enable users to securely work from the platforms they find most productive
- Protect data with no increase in management or client footprint
- Minimise risks with any mix of real-time, proactive cloud-based security
- Reduce management complexity and overall costs
The Trend Micro solution blocked a staggering 82 million ransomware threats in the first half of 2017 alone.
Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Complete has enabled the IT team at Kingston University to proactively manage any malware outbreaks and other cybersecurity and data protection challenges in a highly effective manner. That means the institution has mitigated the threat of data loss and service outages, which can cause huge disruptions for staff and students, minimised reputational and financial risk, and helped fulfil its GDPR compliance obligations. But the partnership with Trend Micro has evolved into something even more beneficial, which Harrison hopes will stretch far into the future.
“When we started this journey, we were primarily interested in protecting the devices we owned. But through conversations with Trend Micro, the partner relationship has grown where we are now able to provide Trend Micro Antivirus to our students and staff as well,” he concludes.
“We’re offering the students and staff the ability to protect themselves. Our students and staff see this as a benefit, and from our point of view, these devices that connect to our network are more likely to be virus free. It improves the digital health of the entire ecosystem to everyone’s mutual benefit.“