January 25, 2024
Outsourcing for School Districts that Hate Outsourcing
Even the most self-sufficient school districts often turn to cybersecurity partners.
When there’s a problem with the network or a piece of hardware, most IT leaders in K–12 education want their own staffers to be able to fix the issue and get everything up and running as soon as possible. And they want to do so without having to rely on outside help.
Yet even the most ardent DIYers typically turn to outsourcing for one key capability: cybersecurity monitoring.
Cybersecurity has long been a key concern for K–12 organizations, but schools and districts have ramped up their focus on the issue over the past several years in response to escalating threats — particularly ransomware. Attacks on K–12 have grown in volume and sophistication. At the same time, the number of different technology systems that districts must monitor has ballooned. Simply put, there’s no way for K-12 IT staffs to keep up, no matter how hard they work.
External cybersecurity services go beyond replicating the work of internal staffers. They essentially create a 24/7 security operations center for a district. This is what IT staff at Eden Prairie Schools in Minnesota discovered when CDW helped the district secure managed detection and response, managed risk, managed security awareness, and incident response services from Arctic Wolf.
A SOC acts as the nerve center for all security-related activities, using a combination of the latest technology, threat intelligence and experienced professionals to detect, prevent and respond to cybersecurity threats in real time. By outsourcing alert monitoring, Eden Prairie now has access to a dedicated team of cybersecurity experts who work around the clock to protect their students, staff and data. District staffers knew that they simply did not have the manpower or budget to employ multiple shifts of cybersecurity professionals. Even if they did, school leaders would much prefer to dedicate these resources directly to teaching and learning.
In some districts, IT and educational leaders are understandably reluctant to outsource due to a fear of losing control over their environments. However, when it comes to cybersecurity monitoring, outsourcing actually provides more control, not less.
By partnering with CDW’s trusted cybersecurity provider, Eden Prairie set the parameters for the type of monitoring they wanted, ensuring that their unique needs and concerns are addressed. Moreover, regular communication and reporting from the provider keeps the team informed and engaged, so it always knows the status of the district’s security posture.
The team says that before outsourcing, it once took an hour or more to chase down the source of a single cybersecurity alert, which would often prove to be a false alarm.
Time to Focus on Mission-Critical Tasks
Outsourcing cybersecurity monitoring now gives Eden Prairie time to focus on other critical tasks and initiatives that directly impact the educational experience for students and faculty.
This is time that could be better spent supporting technologies that students use to access learning materials and create their own projects. Employees at Eden Prairie report feeling more fulfilled when they’re helping to carry out the school’s mission rather than hunting down an endless stream of potential cyberthreats.
It is crucial to choose the right cybersecurity partner. IT leaders who have been managing these tasks in-house for years often don’t know where to start when it comes to outsourcing. That’s where CDW comes in. We’ve seen what has worked best for countless school districts. After carefully listening to educational and IT leaders about what their districts need, we can help choose the best options and provide ongoing support during implementation. Then, they can get back to doing what they do best: providing solutions that help kids get the education they deserve.
Story by Dave Donarski, Zac Huntley and Oleg Krylov