Customer Story | How Azusa Unified School District Increases Visibility & Control in Google & Microsoft 365

Azusa’s technology team reduces phishing and other cyber risks in the cloud with ManagedMethods’ Cloud Monitor

Background

Like many school districts, state-of-the-art technology is at the forefront of Azusa Unified’s educational mission. And, as Director of Technology, it’s Manuel Sanchez’s job to make the district’s tech stack the best (and safest) it can be.

However, that’s not a walk in the park, especially with over 6,700 K-12 students—not to mention an additional 1,300 staff members.

Challenge

“We have a team of technicians on site supporting minor issues,” Sanchez said. “But at the district level, there’s only three of us managing cybersecurity among other duties.”

Indeed, Azusa has two analysts. One handles the school’s network, the other tackles infrastructure, and Sanchez oversees everything else. However, as he explained, three pairs of hands aren’t always enough.

“Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 security tools will show you some analytics, but you really don’t have the ability to take action on it quickly. Cloud Monitor allows me to see every aspect of what is going on in my cloud domains, then it lets me take action.”
— Manuel Sanchez, Director of Technology, Azusa Unified School District

“We do what we can to mitigate issues and prevent things from coming up,” he said. “Realistically, my network guy is strong on his side, and my systems guy is strong on his, but none of us are specifically trained for cybersecurity. So, we often struggle to try and find ways to discover potential threats in our environment.”

This challenge is even more daunting when it comes to cloud security. Azusa USD migrated to Google Workspace several years before Sanchez’s tenure. He was working at another district, but at the time, he said, schools began diving headfirst into the cloud, not fully knowing what security risks there could be.

“You’re jumping into something someone else controls, and the security landscape is constantly changing,” he explained. “To a degree, you’re at the mercy of Google or Microsoft. They give you some tools to monitor traffic and security, but there’s no training. So, you have to read up whenever you can to figure out how best to protect information.”

Fortunately for Sanchez, his past experiences have taught him the value of a multi-layered cybersecurity strategy, which he’s carried over to Azusa. As he explained, his philosophy is all about making a hacker’s job as difficult as possible.

“The more complicated it is for someone to compromise us, the better it’s going to be,” he said. “So, after coming to Azusa and realizing we needed more protection, I decided to find something that would allow me to mitigate cloud threats in one application.”

Solution

Ultimately, Sanchez simply wanted visibility. In other words, he needed insight into all content within Azusa’s Google and Microsoft 365 environments, what people have access to, and how they’re using it. More importantly, he wanted oversight of all platforms through a single centralized dashboard.

“Using Cloud Monitor, we quickly started seeing fewer phishing emails as it became easier for us to properly track who was sending out that email. More importantly, it allowed our staff and students to know that illegitimate emails weren’t getting through.”
— Manuel Sanchez, Director of Technology, Azusa Unified School District

That’s around when he found ManagedMethods. Once he did, it didn’t take long for him to request a free trial. In fact, just 10 minutes after discovering what Cloud Monitor can do, he asked for a quote.

In short, the platform scans your cloud domain and alerts you to potential risks whenever it finds one. This can include anything from malicious emails and unsanctioned apps to signs of violence or student self-harm.

“When my rep started explaining what it was, I realized it’s everything I had at my previous district rolled into one,” he explained. “The visibility it would give me into Google Workspace was amazing, so I immediately said, ‘I love it. Let’s do what we have to do to get this kicked off.'”

Results

“You don’t know what you don’t know. Unless you have the budget to hire somebody to monitor your environment 24/7, you need a solution like Cloud Monitor by ManagedMethods to help you do it.”
— Manuel Sanchez, Director of Technology, Azusa Unified School District

According to Sanchez, Cloud Monitor is a marked improvement over the built-in tools available in Google Workspace or Microsoft 365.

“They’ll show you some analytics, but you really don’t have the ability to take action on it quickly,” he added. “Cloud Monitor allows me to see every aspect of what is going on in my cloud domains, then it lets me take action.”

Cloud Monitor has also helped Sanchez mitigate phishing attacks. As he explained, some users have received suspicious emails from Azusa staff members asking for credit card data and other information. So, he and his team created a policy that would alert them to these types of risks.

“We quickly started seeing fewer phishing emails as it became easier for us to properly track who was sending out that email,” he said. “More importantly, it allowed our staff and students to know that illegitimate emails weren’t getting through.”

In the end, Manuel Sanchez has advice for his fellow K-12 IT directors.

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” he said. “Unless you have the budget to hire somebody to monitor your environment 24/7, you need a solution like Cloud Monitor to help you do it.”

Schedule a free 30-day audit today to learn more about how Cloud Monitor can help you protect your school district.

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