Apr 18 2014

Schools Move to the Cloud for Security

Cloud protection services enable districts to keep up with security threats while reducing overhead.

For a small Oklahoma school district with just one IT person, a cloud-based security system saves valuable time, says Joey Smith, network manager for Atoka Public Schools.

Panda Cloud Office Protection performs all anti-virus and firewall software updates in the cloud, so Smith doesn’t have to spend time or money maintaining updates or replacing servers. He can also use the Panda management console to view the district’s 600 desktops and notebooks, and the system alerts him when a machine becomes corrupted.

“The other great thing about Panda’s cloud based service is that all the scanning takes place in the cloud, so the system doesn’t put as much of a footprint on the client machines,” Smith says. “That makes response times much faster for the users.”

Panda updates consume about 150 megabytes on a client, while a conventional anti-virus product takes closer to 300MB. “I use Panda on my home machine, and it’s loaded up for gaming, and I can’t even tell I have anti-virus software on the computer,” he adds.

Frank Dickson, an industry principal for Frost & Sullivan who covers network security, says cloud-based security services appeal to organizations because IT budgets have not kept pace with the threat landscape. “With the exponential growth of new threats and attacks, organizations see cloud-based security as an efficient way to provide security,” he explains. “They can buy Security as a Service and don’t have to maintain the hardware and software and upgrade the equipment every three to five years.”


The percentage of IT managers surveyed who say cloud computing and SaaS solutions providers can offer better security than their own IT security team can provide

SOURCE: “2013 U.S. Cloud Security Survey” (IDC, September 2013))

The Root of the Issue

John Vehmeier, network administrator for Franklin County Public Schools in Virginia, says the cloud-based Webroot SecureAnywhere Business-Endpoint Protection product delivers significantly improved security and makes overall management much simpler and more effective.

“Webroot SecureAnywhere solved several problems we had, including maintaining another application and physical server and protecting older workstations that did not have the processing power to run a traditional anti-virus solution,” says Vehmeier.

With other security systems, the district’s IT team would spend hours and days on individual infected stations recovering lesson plans and crucial data. “Now that we’ve transferred exclusively to Webroot, we just don’t have those types of issues and have been able to focus our resources on taking care of nonvirus issues and testing new systems,” Vehmeier says, adding that the time savings have made it possible for the district to pilot a bring-your-own-device program.

Three Reasons to Choose Cloud-Based Security

Service provider Webroot offers three important reasons IT departments should consider moving security gateways to the cloud:

  • Better defense against zero-day threats and spam servers. Hackers rely on speed to propagate threats across networks, aiming to infiltrate new zero-day attacks before threat signatures can be developed and deployed. In contrast, cloud-based web gateways start using malware signatures and blocked URL lists in a much more timely fashion, which reduces hacking incidents.
  • More comprehensive signature and URL databases. Most IT departments have a limited amount of processing and storage capacity. Security manufacturers are typically forced to limit the size of signature and URL databases locally. Cloud-based secure web gateways maintain databases of millions of threat signatures and hundreds of millions of URLs, making threat prevention more comprehensive.
  • Support for remote employees. Sure, the network may be secure, but what happens when an educator visits another school? In cloud-based systems, remote and roaming workers are protected the second they connect to the Internet without having to use a virtual private network.

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