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Case study – Kiwi and Fiji security consortium extends services ‘bubble’ to Fiji

Fiji National University

14 June 2021 – As the world battles the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Fiji National University has taken steps to secure its provision of online learning, teaching and service delivery.

The tertiary education provider has recently deployed a new cybersecurity system to protect its 10,000-plus user IT network, as students and staff turn to home computers and mobile devices to access the university’s online learning and teaching.

Looking to harden its network endpoints and overall security posture in the COVID era, FNU opted for a blended security model to do the job. Following a competitive tender process completed late last year, Kiwi security specialist Advantage and cybersecurity distributor Chillisoft were charged with delivering the solution.

Palmerston North-based Advantage provides SOC (security operations centre) services, including 24/7 monitoring, alerting and support. FNU’s local ICT partner VT Solutions installed the physical components of the new solution.

The technology solution rides on some of the big names in Chillisoft’s cybersecurity technology stack, including vendors LogRhythm, ESET, Radware, Cofense, Tripwire, and Forcepoint.

The development is a significant departure from the university’s more traditional perimeter firewalls and ‘trust but verify’ security model, effectively establishing a ‘zero trust’ IT environment off the back of a SOC-aaS model that puts a single window on the university’s security threats, incidents, and how they are triaged.

Tiko Domonakibau, Director of ICT at FNU, said the industry arms race that organisation were forced to enter was a competition they were unlikely to win using a traditional approach to security.

“Traditional perimeter security is no longer adequate. We had to step up our game, though without the complex chore of wrestling security systems and monitoring ourselves,” he said.

Alex Teh, CEO of Chillisoft, said that while manual updates and patching attached to the university’s former security model presented risks to FNU’s cyber defences, the bigger ambition was to establish a more cohesive approach to security management.

“The idea behind cohesion is for security systems to provide deeper insight into looming threats and compromises,” he said. “Armed with a deeper understanding, security analysts are better able to connect the dots between different layers of security and gauge the impact of individual attacks on the broader IT network. SOC-aaS was the only viable alternative.”

He said security services also prevented security from becoming unwieldly, with tracking, detection, and diagnosis remaining behind the “curtain”, which left FNU to act on vetted information to direct its small team to make the correct fixes.

“Advantage simply finds the issues that FNU should focus on and does that 24/7/365. It’s less noise for FNU and plays into the hands of a specialist provider with the horsepower to provide this type of vigilance at scale,” Teh said.

“The key theme for the university is visibility”, Domonakibau said. “Now we can see alerts, identify vulnerabilities, and act before damage is done. Not knowing is a grave risk – so to operate with the insight we have now is a major step forward.”

For more information, check out this Case Study.

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