U. of Wisconsin Upgrades WiFi Security, Protects 70K Daily Users

When 70,000 users toggling between three and five mobile devices daily access a single wireless network, an unprecedented amount of potential threats waits at every endpoint.

Such is the case at the University of Wisconsin’s Madison campus, where students, faculty, administrators and visitors alike are all connecting to a 10-year-old WiFi infrastructure around the clock.

The school recently updated its ATP, or advanced threat protection package, to monitor and better secure the network as its use continues to grow.

“We wanted to block out the silliness,” said University of Wisconsin Chief Information Security Officer Bob Turner. “There was bad acting traffic across particular ranges; we have WiFi in the residence halls, and there was a lot of (bad traffic) there. It’s a steady stream of potential compromise.”

Of course the security isn’t just needed in the residence halls. The University of Wisconsin is also a research facility, where students and professionals are conducting data heavy projects across a variety of verticals, including healthcare, financial services, and life sciences.

“(University of Wisconsin) isn’t just a school, this is a 2.5 billion dollar per year business,” Turner said. “This campus is more complex as a university than most corporations.”

Turner and his team began the procurement process to upgrade the threat protection materials in April of 2016. The deployment began in July of that year, and Turner said his staff has been able to see more threats and where they’re originating – and landing – across the network as protection of endpoints has been ramped up. The university and solution provider are working hand in hand to iron out the remaining kinks and bugs.

“It’s essential to have a better understanding of what’s coming. This is already a robust network of access points and will only grow,” Turner said. “Blocking of bad traffic has increased, and we need to have a robust enough system to be able to track those issues. Who’s accessing what data and where?”

The university’s cyber security strategy is public and details a four year plan from 2015 to 2019, which lays out the direction for the school’s members and stakeholders. An alumni group devoted to the school’s cyber security and IT initiatives donated enough funds to pay for the upgraded security measures, Turner said.

Mobile security will take center stage at Enterprise Mobility Exchange’s Security West event to be held April 24 and 25 in Phoenix, Arizona. The strategy meeting will see 40 IT executives across all numerous verticals, such as government, healthcare, and financial services network in a peer-to-peer benchmarking format to go along with two days of speaking engagements on mobile security topics.

To find out more about the event, go here and request an invitation