Imagine receiving a notification that your eight-year-old child has been declined on a car loan, or that your ten-year-old was turned down on a credit card application. Those nightmare scenarios were experienced by the parents of many elementary-age children after a massive data breach of the Toledo, Ohio public school system. With K-12 school systems now a target by cybercriminals, it’s become a common scenario, one that Cody Lee has been working feverishly to avoid.
As the executive director of technology for Weatherford Independent School District (ISD) in the city of Weatherford, Texas, Lee and his staff of 10 are tasked with protecting 8,000 students, 1,200 staff members, and a large, enterprise-class network.
“The challenges we face at Weatherford ISD are similar to other school districts everywhere. For example, kids will be kids, and 8,000 students represent 8,000 potential questionable actors,” says Lee. “Our staff has kept busy by issues stemming from students taking down the network during testing season and internal users unintentionally yielding sensitive data to spearfishing attacks,” he adds.
“Credential harvesting is the single largest threat his system faced. It’s so much easier for cybercriminals to trick an end user into trusting them than it is to get through all the tried-and-true security measures in place,” says Lee.
Why Trend Micro
With Trend Micro as a security partner, Lee and his staff are not working quite as feverishly as they once were. “When it comes to cybersecurity, everyone needs some help,” says Lee.
“I wanted a single-pane-of-glass view that we could use to tie together different applications, providing a single platform for recognising and responding to threats,” he says. Trend Micro recommended the Trend Micro Vision One solution for security operations teams. “After doing some research, I realised that no other platform offered the equivalent capability of Trend Micro Vision One in pulling so many different applications into a single unified view, which was crucial in helping our organisation defend against my worst threats,” says Lee.
"Trend Micro Vision One covers us on all aspects, from endpoint to cloud app security, to perimeter, as well as east-west traffic inside our network."
Executive Director of Technology,
Weatherford ISD worked with technology solutions provider CDW, who first recommended Trend Micro to Lee and facilitated the purchase of Trend Micro products. Trend Micro responded to Weatherford ISD’s needs by providing a proof of concept (POC) that involved a full Trend Micro Vision One deployment, including endpoint protection, server protection, Cloud App Security, Deep Discovery Inspector, and Tipping Point. “It was the end-to-end coverage of Trend Micro Vision One that was the differentiator,” says Lee.
“Trend Micro Vision One covers us on all aspects, from endpoint to cloud app security, to perimeter, as well as east-west traffic inside our network. The ability to see all that and pull it all together in a single pane of glass has reduced both time demands and headaches for me and my staff. Nobody else is doing what Trend Micro is in pulling those different applications together,” he says.
“One of the big benefits we’ve seen is knowing exactly what end users are doing. By giving us a single place to monitor to see if any issues are occurring—or to just confirm that everything is fine—Trend Micro’s solutions have worked out extremely well. They’ve allowed me to relax and get better sleep because I feel we’re better protected than we’ve ever been,” says Lee.
“We’ve used a third-party security operations centre for some time. They’ve been great, but we’ve already seen Trend Micro products catch a few problems that the security operations centre missed. That’s just an added layer of relief for me. It gives me a little room to breathe, knowing we’re doing the right thing for the kids in this district,” says Lee.
Lee looks forward to leveraging the help of Trend Micro in achieving zero trust security. “If something were to get by the solutions we have in place, the zero-trust framework will target, encapsulate, and isolate the issue, giving us time to respond. That’s going to be the next big thing, and I’m very excited about it,” he says.
Zero trust wasn’t even in his plans until Trend Micro provided a roadmap for integration. Lee is also planning to further bolster security by strengthening the use of multi-factor authentication. “I know it will layer well with our Trend Micro solutions,” he says.
With a secure network, the personal data of teachers and students is protected. Teachers are far less likely to be negatively impacted by technology issues and Lee and his staff are enjoying reduced stress levels.