Driving security transformation at James Cook University
How does a complex, multi-site organisation embrace digital transformation without sacrificing security? Universities everywhere are facing this and other challenges shared by all large distributed enterprises looking to update or extend capabilities, whether that be for competitive advantage, cost-reduction or the flexibility that is increasingly demanded by customers, using all sorts of devices in all sorts of places.
In this context, a security refresh is rarely a simple matter. When Australia’s James Cook University needed to consider its perimeter security, it began with a thorough review of its own systems and requirements across multiple campus locations.
With 22,000 students, JCU is a large institution with teaching and research capabilities spanning three main campus locations - Cairns, Townsville and Singapore. The university also has campuses in Mt Isa, Mackay, Brisbane, Thursday Island, and several research facilities as well, all needing to meet the same stringent security requirements and be managed effectively.
The university quickly realised it needed a strategic solution that addressed end-to-end requirements across these sites and one that would also handle the organisation’s increasingly complex cyber–security posture.
“Universities are interesting places. We have a requirement to be secure but we also have a requirement to be open for students and for the research community,” Kevin Lane, Senior Infrastructure Engineer at James Cook University, explains. “Perimeter security is absolutely vital for our corporate functions, finance, HR and so on, but we’re very open to research communities around the world for collaborating.”
As part of its comprehensive roadtrip around Australia, the FortiExpress hosted representatives from James Cook University, Townsville campus, to find out more about the university’s process and experience.
JCU has a philosophy of encouraging exploration, discovery and growth through research which no doubt came in handy in the early phases of reviewing technology options. However, initial reviews identified that multiple security solutions generated additional workload for the university and would reduce staff availability for other tasks. There had to be a better way.
Lane explains that JCU made a strategic direction to align with a single partner across firewall, server and desktop. The uni expanded its approach to an open tender for the provision of a suitable end-to-end security solution.
“We needed not just a firewall outcome but a broader view of security and cybersecurity and protection for the organisation and one that really answered our end-to-end requirements,” Lane says.
JCU chose Fortinet based on the breadth of functionality, end-to-end capabilities and integrated security fabric. With Fortinet, the uni achieved much more than firewall refresh but also an end point solution as well.
Of particular benefit, Fortinet provided the uni with the ability to consolidate management through a consistent interface. “FortiAnalyser is a great toolset that enables us to sort out the end to end issues,” Lane says.
Like many organisations, the university deals with an evolving threat landscape with ever-increasing attack activity from hackers, malware and the like. Additional complexity comes from the influx of BYOD and mobile devices in both the student and staff environments.
“The Fortinet solution provides capacity to protect our student population from certain security risks and obviously the corporate data is protected and what we see is a simple management process.”