CDNIS is a highly respected, independent international school with more than 1,800 students representing 40 nationalities. With 300 faculty and staff, it caters to children and young people from ages 3 to 18, all on a single campus, offering high-quality education and a rich extracurricular program.
The school has partnered with Palo Alto Networks for almost a decade to deploy Next-Generation Firewalls to protect more than 80 servers at the heart of the campus. However, as technology has become increasingly integral to the learning experience, CDNIS wanted to upgrade its antivirus capabilities.
“Technology enables student engagement and motivation, improves teaching, and opens up limitless online resources. However, we have to ensure students and teachers are safe,” explains David Chan, IT manager at CDNIS. “The devices they use must be safeguarded 24/7; whatever happens, we don’t want them getting infected. The issue was that our legacy antivirus software was processor-intensive and resource-hungry, which slowed devices down and frustrated the users.”
CDNIS also felt its existing antivirus platform was illequipped to handle new threats and zero-day attacks. Therefore, it evaluated a range of alternative antivirus vendors, focusing on cost, functionality, and lightweight performance. A proof of concept exercise showed that Palo Alto Networks Cortex XDR was the most cost-effective and feature-rich, as well as easiest to deploy.
“Cortex XDR provides superior antivirus protection: it takes up limited system resources, so we don’t even realize it is running, while being able to catch all threats new and old,” adds Chan. “We can also use the intuitive dashboard to manage our mobile devices.”
It took CDNIS and Palo Alto Networks just two weeks to deploy the Cortex XDR software, covering more than 2,000 endpoints. In combination with Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewalls, which provide granular control over user applications, the deployment is easy to operate and upgrade, and Cortex XDR enables robust response to threats of all kinds.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of a bulletproof approach to endpoint protection and firewalls. With the entire campus and faculty suddenly working from home, immediate vulnerabilities in the network and on endpoints became apparent. Having thousands of devices logging in from thousands of home networks could have left CDNIS prone to hacking and cyberattacks. However, the Palo Alto Networks security ecosystem was more than equipped to handle the new challenges with minimal intervention.
“COVID-19 made the role of technology particularly important as all education migrated online. However, we were well placed to manage the move with confidence,” says Chan. “The Palo Alto Networks products integrate seamlessly to give better protection, whether at home or on campus.”
With the campus set to continue to grow, CDNIS expects it will need more firewalls in the near future. What is certain is that Palo Alto Networks will continue to play a key role in their provisioning and support.
“Palo Alto Networks has a wide range of products which we can draw from to increase our resilience,” concludes Chan. “This protection gives us the confidence and strength to avoid modern cyberthreats, combined with responsive and effective support.”