Manage 10,000+ identities within different stakeholder groups and the security of a complex architecture across multiple campuses with a small IT team.
Recent times have drastically changed the whiteboards and textbooks school image. Technology was already growing in importance, with the introduction of integrated smart boards and sophisticated identity management to enable student access to school networks. However, when COVID-19 struck, this trajectory was accelerated rapidly to accommodate remote learning.
Brett Seivers, IT Manager for St Mary MacKillop College, explains: “It wasn’t just a shift for our staff and students; today, parents no longer wait for report cards, they have real-time interaction with teachers and access to their children’s progress. We connect students, teachers, and parents across different cloud services and internal domains linking our two campuses. We had to quickly figure out how we allow access to sensitive student information for external stakeholders, such as parents. With students operating multiple devices to access learning materials, we found ourselves supporting over 10,000 user touch points.”
The NetIQ suite of solutions is critical to our success. Without it, we would face major integration issues between our Google applications, Microsoft Azure, and Office 365. We have automated our identity provisioning, which is vital in a high turn-over environment like our college.
OpenText™ ZENworks Suite helps manage, secure and protect endpoint devices and has proven significantly beneficial for the college, as Seivers comments: “ZENworks automatically deploys any applications to multiple devices in a targeted way, either by user or device. There are only two of us in IT operations, so cutting the manual effort of application installation, configuration, and registration is a massive timesaver with simple device management through one central interface. This model was particularly helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic as remote control and management for remote users ensured everyone had access to up-to-date applications.”
NetIQ Identity Manager by OpenText and NetIQ Access Manager by OpenText have been in use by the college for many years to manage the identities of thousands of students, staff, and parents. NetIQ is instrumental in providing restricted access to resources, including classrooms, laboratories, theatre, and workshops, as well as managing over 1,500 groups, all of which are seamlessly supported by a very small IT team. The model is unique as it not only supports a common business architecture framework across multiple campuses, providing cloud and remote services, but it also operates as a telecommunications provider for internal and external network services.
“The NetIQ suite of solutions is critical to our success,” comments Seivers. “Without it, we would face major integration issues between our Google applications, Microsoft Azure, and Office 365. We have automated our identity provisioning, which is vital in a high turn-over environment like our college. This improves our overall security as users are automatically deleted when they leave. The role-based access model works well for students, staff, and parents, and enables our IT team to concentrate on more value-add tasks.”
More recently, ArcSight by OpenText was integrated into the college’s cyber security program. As Seivers says: “We wanted a solution that wasn’t complex but could perform complex tasks. We needed peace of mind and effective insight to give us confidence in our devices, our network, and our users.” The initial use case was to address a challenge around security log management. Although the team maintained a central syslog server, this was not easy to search, and it didn’t contain clear log retention rules. Effective search is particularly important as this can quickly highlight common events like failed student logins so that the team can proactively address these to ensure learning is not impacted.
Without central logging, it was also very difficult to identify issues that affect multiple devices. Enter the ArcSight suite of products. ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager (ESM) by OpenText was introduced first, to detect and escalate threats in real time through advanced event correlation. ArcSight Recon by OpenText, designed to simplify log management while accelerating forensic investigation powered by big data analytics, enables the team to schedule log searches through a user-friendly interface, delivering full visualization and reporting. Fully flexible, the solution is structured so that when hardware is changed, the rules don’t need to be updated, as it is all categorized in consolidated log searches.
We are a small team and cannot have eyes on our environment 24/7. This is where ArcSight SOAR really helps. This accelerates effective incident response with intelligent automation, giving us visibility and insight before the fact, in real time.
Seivers saw the value in being able to recognize potential security events and receive alerts, but the alerts still required follow-up, as he explains: “We are a small team and cannot have eyes on our environment 24/7. This is where ArcSight SOAR [now by OpenText] really helps. This accelerates effective incident response with intelligent automation, giving us visibility and insight before the fact, in real time. Through full integration with [ArcSight] ESM and [ArcSight] SOAR, we automated time-consuming and mundane tasks, driving down exposure by reducing response time to security threats.”
He concludes: “The full CyberRes (now OpenText™ Cybersecurity) suite of solutions gives us confidence in our security posture, though we of course will continue to measure our preparedness. The partnership with Micro Focus (now OpenText) is great. Rather than being sales-driven, this was always about wanting to do the right thing and making sure we at St Mary MacKillop College would succeed. It’s been a pleasure, and we look forward to continuing our journey.”
St Mary MacKillop College is a Catholic coeducational school for students in years 7 to 12 of the Australian school system (from approximately 12 to 18 years of age). Split into junior and senior campuses five kilometers apart, the college is the largest in Canberra, with more than 1,950 students and 190 staff. It provides access to over 1,500 parents with up-to-date information on their children and all activities across the college, while also connecting educators with families to collaborate and communicate through multiple technologies.