The business challenges
Data breaches in higher education can be devastating because the
implications are enormous. Every aspect of a college or university
is impacted — its reputation, operations and financial situation.
According to the Ponemon Institute’s Cost of Data Breach Report, data
breaches in higher education cost an average of $3.9 million in 2020.
The good news is that higher education is no longer one of the hardest
hit industries. In 2015, it was the second hardest hit after healthcare, but
by 2020, it dropped to the eighth hardest hit.
Why the drop? College and university campuses are centers of innovation
in so many areas including IT. Wenatchee Valley College is a prime example.
When a nearby college fell victim to a massive ransomware attack, Steve
Garcia, Information Security Officer at Wenatchee Valley College, took a hard
look his college’s disaster recovery (DR) strategy.
“We compared our DR strategy to theirs and considered it a learning
opportunity,” he said. “We discovered their strategy wasn’t air gapped,
so we made changes to our strategy and instituted best practices.”
Wenatchee Valley College had been using Backup Exec and Dell storage. Garcia
said the solutions met the college’s needs at the time of deployment, but they
weren’t future proof and wouldn’t support an eventual move to the cloud.
“Backup Exec became a huge source of stress and anxiety —
we couldn’t go a month without opening a support case,” Garcia said.
“Backup was slow, and recovery from Dell storage was unreliable, putting
data in threz of our most critical systems at risk.”
The systems support student registration, staff records, payroll, finance,
a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint
“These systems keep the college running, so we can’t risk data loss,”
Garcia said. “In addition to impacting students and faculty, data loss would
jeopardize our compliance with regulatory requirements including the
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Payment Card
Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS).”
The Veeam solution
Wenatchee Valley College replaced the legacy solutions with Veeam®
Backup & Replication™ and ExaGrid. They’ve become the cornerstone of the
college’s DR strategy by protecting against ransomware, recovering data
300% faster, supporting compliance with FERPA and PCI-DSS, and setting
the course for cloud data management.
“I can say with 100% confidence that we have a reliable data protection
system in place,” Garcia said. “If we’re attacked by ransomware, we’ll be able
to recover all of our data and resume normal operations.”
Veeam backs up 24 TB across 125 virtual machines (VMs) to ExaGrid onpremises
and off-premises. Veeam encrypts backups and ExaGrid’s Retention
Time-Lock prevents hackers from deleting them.
“I worked with engineers at Veeam and ExaGrid to make sure our process is air
gapped,” Garcia said. “The integration between the two solutions is amazing—
not only for ransomware protection but also for daily data protection and
management. Veeam SureBackup® verifies the recoverability of backups
on the ExaGrid Landing Zone and Instant VM Recovery® recovers 300%
faster. Veeam and ExaGrid support our compliance with FERPA and PCI-DSS.”
Veeam and ExaGrid also support the college’s move to the cloud. Before
migrating to Microsoft Office 365, Wenatchee Valley College deployed
Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 to protect historical data.
“Microsoft makes it clear it doesn’t provide comprehensive backup, but
Veeam does,” Garcia said. “Backup is always reliable, and recovery is always
fast. You can’t beat Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and
OneDrive for granular recovery.”
Cloud support doesn’t stop there. Soon Veeam will send backup copies
of production VMs to whatever cloud the college chooses, enabling the
IT team to follow the 3-2-1 Rule for the first time. In the meantime, the
college is focusing on getting through COVID-19.
“Ransomware attacks in higher education have escalated during the pandemic,
so we’re grateful Veeam and ExaGrid are the cornerstone of our DR strategy,”
Garcia said. “They protect our VDI, enabling students and faculty to access
their information so they can work remotely. Now that I’ve used Veeam
and ExaGrid for a while I recommend them to everyone in higher education
because they deliver solid, reliable protection you can count on.”
- Protects against ransomware and becomes the cornerstone of the DR strategy
“Veeam and ExaGrid are airtight and future proof,” Garcia said. “They help
us avoid data loss from a ransomware attack and give us peace of mind
like we’ve never had before.”
- Recovers email and academic resources for students and faculty 300% faster
“It would be a horrible scenario if we couldn’t recover data for students
and faculty,” Garcia said. “Veeam’s item-level recovery capabilities are
exceptionally valuable to us. We love the Veeam Explorers.”
- Supports regulatory compliance and sets the course for cloud data
“Meeting regulatory requirements is easier with Veeam and ExaGrid,”
Garcia said. “Following the 3-2-1 Rule will also be easy when we send
backup copies to a public cloud.”