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From Police Cases to Patient Records: Virtru Helps Research University Manage Massive Risk Footprint

American Research University
"It’s not often that security teams get to say, hey, I'm gonna make something you do even easier."

IT Leader

Can a tiny 10-person IT security team realistically lock down hoards of sensitive emails across a 12,000 student, full-service university? With confidential research, donor data, and police department information at stake, this small but mighty IT crew needed to find an advanced ally up for the challenge. Ultimately, they chose Virtru as a multi-faceted data-centric security solution - and here’s why.

Securing a City-Within-A-City

This large university has over 6,000 faculty and staff members along with 12,000 students. As an independent city within a city, the university houses everything from a police department to donor and scholarship information to healthcare data. With incredibly diverse data protection needs, the university's cybersecurity posture varies—advanced in some areas like cloud adoption but lagging in others. Currently, the 10-person information security team tracks 35 different compliance regulations.

"We have everything from a police department to an ecommerce business from health care to, to FERPA data. And so, because we're a ‘city’ with every vertical, our cybersecurity posture is all over the place. And some places were very much ahead of the curve. We were a leader in cloud adoption in higher ed. Our data center is in AWS. In other places, we're very far behind, and that's what they pay me to worry about."

The team worried about properly securing the myriad types of sensitive information flowing through the university's systems. From student health records to donor data to groundbreaking research, protecting confidential data was paramount for trust, reputation, and regulatory compliance.

Widely Embraced Adoption with Hopes for Expansion

After an extensive evaluation of email security solutions in 2017, the information security team selected Virtru's products as the best fit for the university's wide-ranging data protection needs across multiple departments.

"We reviewed probably 35 different ones, and there were a handful that really stuck out. So in December of 2017, I had my first meeting with Virtru."

They deployed Virtru's email encryption to bolster existing defenses, consolidate tools, and deliver more user-friendly protection across email and cloud storage. These capabilities provide robust data security controls while prioritizing usability and adoption across the large, decentralized university environment.

The Virtru rollout exceeded expectations, as users actively welcomed the improved email protection.

"When we started doing the change management, it was the easiest sell ever. People were delighted to start using the new system, because the user interface is so much better than your standard gateway-oriented products."

Use cases span researchers transmitting sensitive data, the health center securing patient records, the police department protecting case data, and the fundraising team communicating with donors. The intuitive security empowers employees from any department, on campus or off, while letting the InfoSec team focus more resources on advancing security efforts.

Future Plans in Expanding the Data-Centric Security Suite

Buoyed by Virtru's home run securing university emails, the IT team now aims to go for extra bases. They plan to become power users of Virtru's full suite of products like Drive, Secure Share, and Gateway. Right now niche tools with costly licenses tackle tasks that Virtru could consolidate for budget's sake. Most exciting of all, Virtu offers a chance to play offense—proactively closing security gaps through wider deployment.

"Using the drive controls really is an opportunity for us… It’s not often that security teams get to say, hey, I'm gonna make something you do even easier."

By making encryption seamlessly easy across overloaded researchers, cautious donors, and health data systems, Virtru bridged security and usability in an exemplary partnership. Together, Virtru and the university now protect national treasures from the past and pioneers shaping the future under a unified digital shield tailored for the task.