Case Study

Enabling an SDG campus with timely threat prevention for National Dong Hwa University

Palo Alto Networks Cortex XDR with Next-Generation Firewalls create a secure learning environment for teachers and students.

In brief


National Dong Hwa University

Product and Services

Bachelor’s degree programs, master’s degree programs and doctoral programs



Organization Size

10,000+ faculty and students





Faced with ever-changing attack methods and increasing information security threats year by year, the information center must maintain the security of the school information system and ensure the safety of students when using the network. A viable information security solution was needed to achieve the goal of balancing information security and network efficiency.

    • Monitor the status of all networks in real time.
    • Alert relevant personnel immediately when threats and risks occur.
    • Gain security visibility of the deep network.

National Dong Hwa University chose to use Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) and Cortex XDR to prevent and block advanced threats. Collectively, the solutions help to reduce risk and strengthen the overall security posture.

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National Dong Hwa University was formally established on July 1, 1994. It is known as the academic palace in the East Rift Valley. In addition to cultivating higher education talents for Taiwan, it also shoulders the responsibility of developing the east coast of Taiwan. The university offers bachelor’s degree programs, master’s degree programs, and doctoral programs, with over 10,000 students. There are also special programs, such as on-the-job special masters’ classes and on-the-job master’s degree classes for teachers.

The United Nations has formulated the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.” National Dong Hwa University has signed the SDG to promote the core value of sustainable education and to be aligned to the higher education development plan promoted by the Ministry of Education. The university has developed the Five to Gether model with the five core values of “Companionship, Learning, Co-creation, Co-benefit, and Co-prosperity” to develop the National Dong Hwa University SDGs Smart Campus.


Legacy security tools stood in the way of the Smart SDG Campus

With the developments in innovative technologies in recent years, NDHU’s SDG Smart Campus Project is underpinned by technology. The university aims to improve the operational efficiency and teaching quality through the use of digital tools and solutions, to enable effective and better quality education.

The NDHU Smart Campus plan covers the following areas: teaching management system, student performance management system, campus security monitoring system, school affairs management system, educational affairs management system, and such. It was implemented with the hope to help both teachers and students utilize time and resources effectively and improve overall teaching quality. However, the traditional firewall devices and endpoint devices originally used at the gateway end use antivirus software, which lacks the ability to deeply analyze network packets, making it difficult to deal with new types of attack methods.

One of the key points of the Smart SDG Campus is to improve overall campus security through various security mechanisms. These include the video surveillance systems on campus, data analysis, and emergency response to improve the safety, well-being, and physical security of students and teachers alike. The security team hopes to establish a more comprehensive security environment, which includes visibility and control, intrusion detection, and threat remediation.

The traditional firewalls and endpoint detection tools previously relied on by NDHU are still relying on legacy technologies and are not able to deeply analyze network packets. In addition, with an expanded attack surface from the new systems and with the introduction of internet of things (IoT) devices, the legacy tools are not able to address novel threats.


To resolve the aforementioned challenges, NDHU had the following requirements:

  • Monitor the status of all networks in real time.
  • Alert relevant personnel immediately when threats and risks occur.
  • Have security visibility of the deep network. The information security team has the network level, the host level, etc., and higher visibility and control.


The core of the SDG Smart Campus aims to prevent malicious threat intrusions in the first place, protect the security of the overall school information system, as well as the research results of teachers. Naturally, a complete information security protection framework is required. It allows us to respond to various cyberthreats in an automated manner, and implement the vision of a smart campus with sustainable development and safety first.

—Dr. Zhao Hanjie, President, National Dong Hwa University


Improve network visibility and detect unknown threats

To meet the research needs of teachers and the needs of students, the global education industry adopts an open attitude toward the use of the internet. However, without the assistance of appropriate information security tools, it may become a hotbed for hackers to spread malicious programs. Therefore, NDHU has always attached great importance to information security.

When Palo Alto Networks launched the world’s first Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) that can deeply inspect Layer 7 network packets, NDHU’s information security team was interested to find out more.

As the threat landscape and attack methods continuously evolve, NDHU felt that its original firewall solution was no longer able to meet the university’s security needs and support its plans for a 5G Smart Campus. On the advice of their partner, MCSI, NDHU decided to deploy Palo Alto Networks NGFWs, which were widely adopted by numerous colleges and universities. In addition, they also elected to deploy Cortex XDR for endpoint protection of the virtualization hosts.


Uncovering hidden malicious threats

Palo Alto Networks NGFW has an in-built deep learning function, which can analyze data and find malicious threats hidden in network packets.

Next-Generation Firewall with Cortex XDR disrupts malicious threat operations

Cortex XDR automatically stitches together endpoint, network, cloud, and identity data to accurately detect attacks and simplify investigations. XDR analyzes large amounts of data through machine learning to automatically detect various threats with high accuracy, such as malware, targeted attacks, and insider threats, and help security teams defend against various attacks through predefined detection rules. Combining Palo Alto Networks NGFW and XDR, provides a 360-degree view of users and the network, increasing the security team’s prevention, detection, and response capabilities without negatively impacting network efficiency.

User-friendly and quickened threat investigation and response times

In addition, Cortex XDR also provides an easy-to-operate interface. Security analysts only need to click the menu once to understand the cause and timetable of each security alert event, which helps to simplify complex analysis, reduce alert fatigue, and speed up investigations.


Nowadays, there are too many threats on the internet and the changes are too fast, which has already surpassed the protection capabilities of traditional antivirus software. Cortex XDR has excellent solid defense capabilities, allowing us to be able to deal with increasingly complex attack methods. With the help of Cortex XDR, the information security team found that there were many malicious attacks or network behaviors that had not been found before, and they were successfully blocked at the first time, and the performance of the virtual host was not affected at all. We think that the initial purchase was a very correct decision.

—Dr. Zhao Hanjie, President, National Donghua University


With the global shortage of information security talents, NDHU also faces a similar challenge. Typically, information security teams are inundated with security alerts and a huge workload.

Zhang Chengliang, Chairman of MCSI, said that in recent years: “Information security incidents have shown explosive growth, posing a great threat to various industries in Taiwan, and academic education units are naturally no exception, which has brought a huge workload to the information security team. Seeing that the Huadong area is facing difficulties in obtaining information technology services, we set up a service base in Hualien, which can provide instant and high-quality technical support services for Dong Hwa University. With the powerful Palo Alto Networks information security solution, we can help NDHU prevent cybercrime incidents in the first place and realize the vision of the SDGs Smart Campus project.”

The solutions from Palo Alto Networks are an important piece of the puzzle to enable the Smart 5G Campus plans of NDHU. With Palo Alto Networks NGFW and Cortex XDR, which have excellent in-depth detection and response capabilities, NDHU can be assured that their information security remains a top priority. NDHU hopes to expand its footprint with Palo Alto Networks in the near future.


Founded in 2002, MCSI is one of the well-known system integrators in Taiwan, mainly providing system integration services such as network foundation, system storage, and information security. We are committed to assisting enterprises in developing digitalization. While improving product performance and humanized services, we can also focus on security issues and provide complete solutions. MCSI will adhere to its consistent business philosophy in the future, continue to provide customers with high-quality services, and hopes to grow with customers in the wave of global informatization.