De Montfort University is amongst the 200 best young universities in the world and 97.3 percent of its graduates from summer 2017 entered the workforce or went on to further study. The university also achieved the highest rating—gold—in the government’s 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework, judged to have “outstanding” teaching, learning, and outcomes for students. More recently, it has completed a £136 million transformation of its campus.
Unified Communications Manager, Jon O’Grady, works in the university’s IT and media services, managing its 25,000 students and 3,000 staff who use Microsoft® Office 365® for instant access to productivity apps.
Like many universities, De Montfort is an attractive target for financially motivated cybercrime groups as well as state-sponsored attackers. This is due to the large numbers of users and the personal and financial data, not to mention the sensitive IP the institution holds in the form of ground-breaking research from its students and faculty.
Chinese state hackers have attacked US, Canadian and Australian universities in the past, while Iranian spies have been blamed for attacks on their UK counterparts. Meanwhile, a report from 2017 claimed that nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of UK universities have been victim of phishing attacks; even those running GCHQ-certified information security courses. Phishing isn’t just targeted at staff and students to elicit personal and financial information, it can also be the first stage in a more sophisticated attempt to breach security systems, exploit server vulnerabilities, and steal large data stores.
Balancing open access for large numbers of mobile users while keeping threats at bay can be a challenge for university IT security teams, and while crucial teaching and learning resources can now be found online, such networks also act as an entry point for ransomware attacks.
Why Trend Micro
Aware of the rising threats facing his organization, Jon O’Grady knew he needed to improve cybersecurity. The university’s IT team undertook a gap analysis, using the National Cyber Security Centre’s popular 10 Steps to Cybersecurity guidance document. Among other things, it calls for anti-malware defences to be established across organizations and recommends a patch update mechanism for all systems to maximise baseline security.
After running a tendering process via its reseller, Software Box, De Montfort University chose Trend Micro in June 2018 to provide malware protection and traffic monitoring for its servers with the award-winning Trend Micro Deep Security platform. Trend Micro was also chosen to replace the existing desktop AV solution with the Smart Protection Complete Suite; providing security via Office Scan for desktops, Hosted Email Security; a cloud hosted Email Gateway, and Cloud App Security for Office 365.
"Our account manager is always there for queries. The relationship is one of the best we have with the major vendors."
United Communications Manager of De Montfort University
Smart Protection Complete Suite integrates security across multiple layers of an organization’s IT infrastructure—endpoint, mobile, email, and web—with centralised management and flexible deployment for on-premises and cloud environments. The Trend Micro XGen™ security solution combines layers of cross-generational threat protection techniques, applying the right tool at the right time for cross-layer detection and response without false positives. It includes high-fidelity machine learning, behavioural analysis, web and file reputation, app control and more. It’s all joined up with connected threat defence, which means each layer shares intelligence on suspicious network activity with the next.
Cloud App Security enhances in-built Office 365 security with data loss prevention (DLP), advanced sandbox analysis, and more to stop threats—including phishing, business email compromise (BEC), and ransomware.
Hosted Email Security is a zero maintenance offering that stops email-based malware in the cloud before it even has a chance to hit the corporate network. Protects Microsoft® Exchange®, Office 365, and other hosted email solutions.
Deep Security has kept Trend Micro as the number one server security vendor every year since 2009, according to IDC1. It features the same industry-leading XGen approach, for powerful protection with minimal impact on performance across physical, virtual, and hybrid cloud environments. Centralised management, automated, hostbased protection and proactive defense via intrusion prevention and virtual patching helps accelerate compliance, stop attacks, and minimise disruption.
"We used basic Office 365 protection for years but had been affected by multiple phishing attacks on our students, so we made the decision to enhance our security in this area."
United Communications Manager of De Montfort University
Jon O’Grady and his team have been enormously impressed with the capabilities offered by Trend Micro at the server and email security layer. He says Trend Micro Hosted Email Security has delivered a “massive improvement” over the previous solution, blocking four million suspicious emails each month. Its success led to the university’s further investment in Trend Micro Cloud App Security to offer additional protection to its student population.
“We used basic Office 365 protection for years but had been affected by multiple phishing attacks on our students, so we made the decision to enhance our security in this area,” says Jon O’Grady. On the server side, Jon O’Grady is pleased with Deep Security’s ease of deployment, high protection rate, usability, and optimised performance. “The intrusion prevention system (IPS) on the server estate has managed to prevent threats on our legacy servers, which is a great benefit as we couldn’t patch these due to their age. IPS allowed us to mitigate risk until we decommissioned them,” he says.
De Montfort’s IT team purchased through its reseller but it maintains a fantastic direct relationship with Trend Micro. “Our account manager is always there for queries—he comes on site, checks everything is fine, and offers technical assistance where necessary,” Jon O’Grady concludes. “The relationship is one of the best we have with the major vendors.”
1 Securing the Server Compute Evolution: Hybrid Cloud Has Transformed the Datacenter