Marquette University

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“CounterACT provides a mechanism to identify and monitor every device without having to staff up and offers a host of automated functions to keep our operations secure with little to no IT overhead.”

– Justin Webb, Security Analyst, Marquette University

Challenge:
  • Marquette University, the largest private university in the state of Wisconsin, has over 11,000 enrolled students and 2,000 employees. U.S. News and World Report ranks Marquette 82nd among the nation’s top 100 universities.
  • Detect and monitor upwards of 14,000 devices accessing the wired and wireless student networks.
  • Protect against viruses, malware, Trojan horses, denial of service attacks and other security issues arising from the increasing use of smart phones, other network devices and gaming consoles, while providing intentionally loose control over network use by Marquette’s students.
  • Enforce customized rules and policies, and provide a simple method to mitigate and remediate threats.
  • Work within the existing infrastructure to provide autonomous operation with little to no intervention and IT overhead.

Solution:

  • Marquette chose CounterACT because it was the only offering that met the criteria. “Choosing CounterACT was simple. The company has a strong reputation and we believed at the time (and still do) that ForeScout will be there for the long haul.”
  • Marquette determined that ForeScout would centralize, and be able to enforce, its access security policies without requiring additional security staff or upgrading the network. CounterACT monitors all network access, offers autonomous operation with little intervention and provides a simple method to mitigate or remediate threats.
  • CounterACT’s monitoring and integration into the network neither impairs performance nor blocks legitimate traffic.

“CounterACT was quickly implemented; in fact, the initial deployment was relatively easy since it supports all the major network and security infrastructure brands. Since our initial installation of the CounterACT appliance, we’ve increased the number of appliances managing our access and endpoint security to 10 devices – all centrally administered through a CounterACT Enterprise Manager. Even though there may be as many as 14,000 connected devices – including mobile phones, personal devices, and gaming consoles – we are still able to manage the entire infrastructure using just one CounterACT management console.”

Results:
  • Complete network visibility

ForeScout makes it easier for Marquette to gain complete visibility and handle threat prevention. “The ability to readily see all hosts, know their threat levels and whether they are compliant or malicious is invaluable.”

  • Time and cost savings

“We save a lot of time and effort, since we only need to track down host or event exceptions. Automation in CounterACT saves resources because it keeps a history of each client, such as who is connected to where, when and what they are doing. Without CounterACT, gathering this information would involve the use of other tools, other networks and other services. There has certainly been a cost savings, in that the University has not had to hire additional security professionals, has had fewer security incidents and has been able to fortify security controls.”

  • Automated threat prevention

CounterACT is capable of monitoring device activity and generating a set of responses. “CounterACT’s built-in policies, policy customization and mitigation options have allowed us to thwart network-based threats on the student network, which has reduced manual remediation efforts as well as the number of notifications we receive from outside entities about our network being a threat to others.”

  • Flexibility enables other uses

When Marquette is notified of a stolen or lost computer, CounterACT is set to add an alert to notify if the ‘lost’ computer shows up on the student network. Also, Marquette must comply with the Higher Education Opportunity Act in terms of enforcing copyrights. “When we receive copyright infringement notifications, we use ForeScout to track the IP address that was used for the violation, and can tell what MAC address registered that IP. We can then find that computer, whether or not it is still plugged in to the same port.”

  • Simple to manage and detailed reporting

CounterACT fully integrates within the existing infrastructure to manage the student network security without much administrator intervention. Management of the entire group of CounterACT devices is performed by a single ForeScout CounterACT Enterprise Manager appliance. Webb notes that CounterACT makes it simple to get detailed reports, saving time for his and other departments. “Instead of going to multiple sources, you can pull the information you need from one central place – such as a usage, security or asset configuration report.”

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