Richland County School District One

  • Industry: School District
  • Location: Columbia, South Carolina
  • Student Enrollment: 23,800
  • Number of Employees: 2,800
  • Tyler Client Since: 2006
  • Tyler Products Used: Tyler Detect, Munis, Versatrans
  • Contacts: Mark Leslie, Coordinator of Network Operations, and Ken Dixon, Network Security Manager
  • Website: www.richlandone.org

Challenge

Cyberattacks against public school districts continue to make headlines. The stakes were raised when the FBI issued a security alert warning K12 schools of the increased threat of ransomware attacks against them. According to Ken Dixon, Network Security Manager for Richland County School District One, “K12 institutions are primary targets for cybercriminals since they are viewed as having minimal security and low staffing levels.”

As the one-man security team for the school district, Dixon understands firsthand the cybersecurity risks and challenges they face. There is not enough time for one security person to stay on top of everything in a district their size, especially with the added burden of the COVID-19 pandemic and the quick shift to e-learning they experienced in 2020.

With limited time and resources, Dixon was in a reactive mode most of the time, responding to incidents instead of preventing them. Because he did not have an overall view of their network activity, he was not able to get the necessary insight to determine where threats were originating.

Solution

Since there is no solution that is 100% effective against cybercriminals, the district takes a layered approach to keep their environment as safe as possible. Following the FBI warning, they decided it was time to add another layer of defense to their existing arsenal of cybersecurity controls.

When Mark Leslie, Coordinator of Network Operations at the Richland County School District One, learned about Tyler Technologies’ managed threat detection service, Tyler Detect, he knew it would be a great fit.

Other security products they use would give them insight into security events, but not in real time. This forced their network security manager to review the security events and determine the risk, which is extremely time consuming. With Tyler Detect, they have a third-party security analyst reviewing logs and systems for irregularities 24/7.

“Tyler Detect sends us emails throughout the day with information on events we should be aware of, what’s involved with the event, and other details so we can mitigate it while it’s still containable,” commented Dixon. “The level of service, the affordable cost, and the peace of mind the service provides were major selling points for us.”

Results

Since deploying the Tyler Detect service, the school district has made significant improvement in their operational responsiveness to suspicious activity. According to Dixon, one of the most helpful features of the service for him is the Microsoft365 integration because it allows him to easily find and tighten up security issues.

Tyler Detect has done an excellent job in helping us to be proactive and to find out about possible threats and other issues before they become widespread or even a full-blown incident.

Mark Leslie

Coordinator of Network Operations

Tyler Detect security analysts recently identified a potentially malicious activity of one of the District’s endpoints that was related to a keylogger Trojan. This dangerous malware can track every keystroke entered on the infected device’s keyboard, including passwords and usernames. Hackers can use the information they gather to perpetrate a larger, more devastating attack. With detection and alerting in real time, the district was able to quickly respond and mitigate the risk.

“Tyler Detect goes a long way in making sure our District is not in the newspaper for the wrong reasons,” said Leslie.

In addition to keeping their data and systems safe, the District must meet state and federal mandates for student data privacy. Tyler Detect helps them stay in compliance.,/p>

“Managed threat detection is a great tool for school districts, especially smaller ones that don’t have dedicated security staff. Having a partner monitoring security events and threats 24/7 can help districts stay in front of the problems before they become incidents,” added Leslie. “I have talked to several of my colleagues about Tyler Detect, and have highly recommended it.”

Case Study Highlights

  • School district adds another layer of defense following FBI warning that schools are high priority targets for cybercriminals
  • Managed threat detection service monitors network 24/7 for suspicious activity and alerts them to threats in real-time
  • Security team can now quickly respond and proactively mitigate risks

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