Cyberattacks dominated the news in 2014, shaking the corporate world with announcements from some well-known companies that suffered millions of dollars in financial damages, not to mention wounded reputations and brand images. Between JPMorgan Chase, Target and Home Depot, the list is a veritable “who’s who” of respected businesses.
Stanford University, consistently ranked as one of the top universities by U.S. News and World Report, is making a smart move to keep itself off the growing list of organizations affected by data breaches. In the past year, the school has redesigned its IBM BigFix (previously IBM Endpoint Manager) infrastructure to better defend against cyberthreats.
“Our new design delivers enhanced security, while still giving us consistently high performance,” said Stacy Lee, a security operations specialist for the university. “We also use BigFix for incident response analysis to take corrective action wherever we detect vulnerabilities. This allows us to protect high-value university assets and intellectual property.”
Stacy Lee and Brian Katyl of Stanford University’s Security Operations Team at IBM InterConnect on Feb. 24, 2015
“Stanford is well-known for research and academics,” said Brian Katyl, a Stanford security operations specialist who made up the other half of the team presenting Tuesday. “When you’re one of the world’s leading think tanks in research — such as cancer breakthroughs that can potentially save lives and might be worth millions on the open market — it’s easy to understand why we’re not only a frequent target, but also why it’s imperative we have robust security measures in place.”
According to Lee and Katyl, it is important to focus on the basics, such as the following:
- Building on trusted systems
- Building from trusted media
- Patching OS and databases and keeping them current
- Installing antivirus software
- Using host-based firewalls
- Establishing dedicated administrative accounts
Speaking of basics, one thing Lee and Katyl said they see most people overlook is the importance of passwords.
“Your employees and their own passwords are the first line of defense,” they said. “At Stanford, we have a unique password policy that’s actually set up to help employees help us stay secure by allowing them a lot of flexibility in creating passwords while at the same time, keeping us safe.”
Coca-Cola Employs BigFix
Coca-Cola, the world’s largest supplier of nonalcoholic beverages, has more than 3,500 products with 500 brands in over 200 countries. Managing security in an already complex environment required a smart move on the company’s part.
“We didn’t have a way to understand what security patches were needed at any given time across our different systems,” said David Sloan of Coca-Cola. “On top of that, we had to manually build, distribute and download all patches as well as build in determining code. It took a full day to rebuild each month, and then it required even more additional testing. Our maintenance periods were a stressful nightmare.”
BigFix was just the move the company needed. Rather than employing multiple people to manage the more than 800 original systems, Coca-Cola uses BigFix to manage more than 2,000 systems with just a single staff member. Instead of manually gathering and deploying patches and then manually tracking their success, Coca-Cola can now gather patches automatically with near-live visibility into their success. Those patches can be delivered in a matter of hours by an individual.
“With BigFix, we’re able to do more with less — literally,” Sloan said. “We can find and fix problems in minutes instead of hours and days across any of our systems, independent of operating system or location. On top of that, we get up-to-the-minute reporting on the status of our systems. The peace of mind BigFix gives our security department makes us confident that our systems and our data are protected and secure.”
If you are ready to make your own smart move to ensure your systems are safe, learn more about BigFix.
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