Protecting sensitive data is critical for any organization hoping to stay in business. With recent breaches at Harvard and other universities, higher-education organizations are learning just how important data security is.

It makes sense – when you consider student information, financial records and research – that almost all of a college or university’s data is sensitive to some degree. Combine that with the number and different types of people that need to access the network – students, professors, administrators – and potentially become access points for attacks, and you have a network that is very difficult to secure.

Palm Beach Atlantic University realized this fact. The school of 4,000 students and almost 900 staff had an IT department of fewer than 20 people maintaining its numerous applications and infrastructure needs, including data center operations and all telecommunications functions. When the university needed to upgrade its legacy storage infrastructure, it decided it was time to upgrade its security and compliance approach, as well. The university chose a Nimble storage array with DataGravity for Virtualization software. The school’s process and results are the subject of a recent case study we produced to show just how important security can be.

One of the main reasons the university chose this approach was that it offered visibility into virtualized file shares to help staffers discover where sensitive information was, and where it was exposed. Learning this information allowed the IT team to better defend against security threats like ransomware.

Little did PBAU know that its new installation would be tested almost as soon as it came online. The incident and response is detailed in the case study, but to say the school was happy it picked the time it did to upgrade would be an understatement.

“The timeframe needed to detect threats and get assistance is a drastic change from our previous environment,” Silva said. “I’ve worked in other companies where a ransomware attack brought the business o­ffline for multiple days. We’ve already proven our ability to get back up and running in a few hours.”

For institutions of higher education, a data breach is especially dangerous. Add in the sheer number and types of access points, and you have a breach waiting to happen. With the right security infrastructure it’s possible to discover a breach in real time and recover quickly. Just ask PBAU.

Download the PBAU case study to read the full story – and results.