“It's really important to our customers, our students, their parents, the researchers we work with, everyone at the university — that we're very careful with their information, that we’re committed to protecting their privacy,” said a cybersecurity leader at the university.
A City’s Worth of Data to Protect
The school’s infosec team manages a wide range of cybersecurity responsibilities, including identity and access management (IAM), information security, and all security product services. These are critical functions for any organization, but for a university, there are hundreds of nuanced information-sharing use cases that cybersecurity leaders need to plan for.
“A university is kind of like a small city in that we have our own police department, fire department, medical center, finance operations, etc.” they said. “So, for a number of regulatory use cases like HIPAA, it's really required to be able to securely communicate via an email platform. And then you have Google Drive, file sharing, financial data, health records, confidential communications — information that could be damaging if it’s not shared securely.”
The university leverages Virtru to protect that sensitive information — whether it’s intellectual property, a health record, or students’ financial details.
“We utilize Virtru in a number of different functions,” the cybersecurity leader said. The university uses Virtru for Gmail, the Virtru Data Protection Gateway for a wide range of sensitive data workflows, and Virtru Secure Share for transferring large files both internally and externally.
“It's a moral obligation, you know? We have students starting their careers. Their personal information is critically important. We have researchers doing groundbreaking research — sometimes their life's work — that needs to be protected. There are regulatory requirements. So, protecting that information is essential.”
Why the Research University Chose Virtru
The university’s infosec team needed an email encryption tool for a HIPAA compliance use case, so they evaluated a number of products with their needs in mind. “Virtru stood out in a number of ways,” they said. “First of all, it’s a trusted Google partner. That meant something to us.”
“The ease of use, the user design and simplicity and workflows within the tool really stood out for ease of use for our users. We have a diverse user population with different levels of technical ability. So, the user interface was super helpful. Usability was a really important criterion for our team.”
Ensuring complete data control, and shielding confidential data from third parties, were also top priorities. “Virtru’s architecture ensures that encrypted content is being protected, even from Virtru, and that was really important. The vendor relationship — being able to work with the organization, being responsive, having a lot of self-service content available — those were all factors as well as our use cases.”
Changing the Game with Secure File Sharing
That initial HIPAA use case led to a broader rollout of Virtru to the university. “Our organization began with a very small use case: Ensuring HIPAA compliance for email transfer. With the changes that came along with COVID, we moved to more remote work. We had COVID testing support across campus and a number of use cases that not only extended the footprint, but also the need of securing additional communications that weren't going to take place on campus.”
Virtru was a versatile tool that could enhance the school’s data security as more faculty, staff, and students engaged with the university from a distance. “We transformed, and we worked with Virtru to find a model of being able to offer and extend the service throughout our entire community,” they said.
“Virtru Secure Share also became a candidate to replace our file sharing service, which was becoming a security issue in itself,” they added. “Secure Share has been a game changer for us. We used Google Drive before, but being able to transfer large files and work seamlessly with external customers was a real benefit. One of our use cases is financial transactions with students and their parents There are also some legal use cases across campus. Virtru has provided a great toolkit to secure the communication of that data.”
“This is a product that really delivers.”
For this leading research university, Virtru has provided a product and a partnership that delivers continual value.
“This product is one that really delivers,” they said. “It’s the user interface — the research that's been done to make Virtru what it is. The thought that's been put in to make this easy for users is amazing, because with security, you know that if you make something easy, people use it. If it's more complex, they don't use it. And that can be a security issue in itself.”
“The architecture that the technology is built on is exactly what you want to look for from a vendor risk standpoint. And so I would just say to folks, this is a really solid product.”