Customer Story | Kettle Moraine School District Secures Google Workspace & Microsoft 365 With ManagedMethods

February 10, 2021

Wisconsin School District Secures Sensitive Data & Monitors Student Safety Signals In Cloud Applications

Kettle Moraine School District is a district of approximately 3,500 students and 475 staff located in Wales, Wisconsin. The district uses Google Workspace Enterprise for Education, with some departments using Microsoft Office 365. Students and teachers also use popular education cloud applications like Canvas, Clever, and Seesaw.

Kettle Moraine is a 1:1 district. Elementary students are assigned Chromebooks, while middle and high school students are also 1:1 with optional purchase programs.

The IT team consists of seven people. Vaughn De Fouw is the Infrastructure Engineer at Kettle Moraine. Among wearing many hats, he is in charge of server management, cybersecurity, and general support when issues need to be escalated. Along with the rest of the IT team, De Fouw reports to Bob Boyd, the District Technology Coordinator.

Like every good cybersecurity plan, De Fouw and Boyd have created a multi-layered cybersecurity infrastructure to protect student, staff, and district data. It includes a Palo Alto firewall and network filter, and Securly for off-site filtering and student safety.

“The biggest thing that sold us on ManagedMethods was the ability to secure both Google and Microsoft 365 from a single platform without additional cost. We used an evaluation matrix with features that we knew we needed to see in a replacement solution, and ManagedMethods hit the marks for us.”
— Vaughn De Fouw, Infrastructure Engineer

The Challenge

Kettle Moraine made the move from on-prem email software to Google for Education in 2011. The initial decision to move to cloud computing was mainly for a better email solution. “We were experiencing explosive growth in emails and data storage. As a result, our servers were crashing, which is no fun for anyone,” De Fouw explains.

Storing and sharing files in Google Drive soon followed Gmail implementation. It quickly became a challenge to know what exactly was being stored and shared in the district’s cloud apps.

“If we have financial or personally identifiable information out there, we need to be able to protect it,” says De Fouw. “We were aware of the dangers, but we weren’t initially aware there was a solution outside of Google’s native security controls to mitigate or remediate them.”

Soon after migrating much of the district’s communications and data storage to the cloud, De Fouw began using a cloud security solution. While he wasn’t necessarily unhappy with it, when the product was acquired by another company the cost began to skyrocket.

“We weren’t getting any improvements to the product, but we were paying more for it every year,” De Fouw recalls. “Further, we’d also added Microsoft 365 licenses by then, and we couldn’t protect those accounts without paying even more. It ultimately became cost-prohibitive for us.”

It became time for Boyd and De Fouw to re-evaluate their cloud security options again. The cost of their current solution was the primary challenge for them. They also wanted to manage both their Google and Microsoft 365 domains from a single platform, including the ability to automate 3rd-party OAuth apps management.

“A product like ManagedMethods is a requirement if you’re going to run Google or Microsoft 365. They each have their built-in tools, but getting that single dashboard that is dedicated to looking at privacy, security, and student safety is a requirement to have. You can’t trust what’s out there unless you have that visibility and control.”
— Vaughn De Fouw, Infrastructure Engineer

The Solution

When they came across ManagedMethods in their research, Boyd was impressed by the platform’s cloud data security capabilities and affordable price. He was also intrigued by its student cyber safety monitoring capabilities and the company’s focus on the K-12 market.

“The biggest thing that sold us on ManagedMethods was the ability to secure both Google and Microsoft 365 from a single platform without additional cost,” De Fouw explains. “We used an evaluation matrix with features that we knew we needed to see in a replacement solution, and ManagedMethods hit the marks for us.”

Boyd and De Fouw evaluated a few different replacement solutions. They determined that ManagedMethods would likely be their best bet, so they requested a 30-day free trial to take it for a test drive.

“It was great to be able to run a test in our own environment and make sure it was going to do what we wanted it to do—and what sales and marketing say it’s going to do. It was also a huge benefit to find the risks that we didn’t know about,” says De Fouw. “Even though we’d been using a similar solution for a couple of years, there were things that ManagedMethods picked up that we weren’t notified about before. We also found instances where people had access to data that we thought we’d previously eradicated.”

The Results

“A product like ManagedMethods is a requirement if you’re going to run Google or Microsoft 365,” De Fouw explains. “They each have their built-in tools, but getting that single dashboard that is dedicated to looking at privacy, security, and student safety is a requirement to have. You can’t trust what’s out there unless you have that visibility and control.”

Today, Boyd mainly uses ManagedMethods, in conjunction with Securly, for student cyber safety purposes. Meanwhile, De Fouw manages the cybersecurity side by focusing primarily on data loss prevention, account takeover monitoring, and controlling 3rd-party OAuth apps.

“In Google Admin Console, it’s tough to dig into the logins and user details to determine what’s going on with that account. Using Login Analyzer, we can quickly see account login locations and the activity history of that account. Previously, suspicious login tracking was time consuming. Now, we can analyze potential incidents quickly without needing to bother the end user.”
— Vaughn De Fouw, Infrastructure Engineer

ManagedMethods instantly provided a benefit to Kettle Moraine School District’s IT budget. They can now secure both their Google and Microsoft 365 domains from a single platform at a lower price than what they were paying for just Google before.

They’ve also benefited from improved management of 3rd-party apps that connect to the domains through OAuth. Not all OAuth apps are bad, but they can represent a risk to district cloud information systems. All districts should make a habit of only allowing apps necessary for education and/or their work to connect to district domains.

Using ManagedMethods, De Fouw can now set up policies that automatically remove unapproved OAuth apps from his domains. He can also pre-set specific apps by name as sanctioned or unsanctioned before the platform detects them.

There are also benefits that he wasn’t initially anticipating. Among them is ManagedMethods’ Login Analyzer tool, which helps him quickly identify and analyze suspicious login activity.

“In Google Admin Console, it’s tough to dig into the logins and user details to determine what’s going on with that account. Using Login Analyzer, we can quickly see account login locations and the activity history of that account,” says De Fouw. “Previously, suspicious login tracking was time-consuming. Now, we can analyze potential incidents quickly without needing to bother the end-user.”

The team was also able to use ManagedMethods to help with a password security project they were working on.

“We were dealing with a lot of password security issues with students, but making sweeping password changes is a challenge itself. With ManagedMethods, we were able to identify accounts with concerning activity and prioritize them for password changes first, like those that were sending suspicious-looking emails, for example.”

When a school district uses cloud applications like Google and Microsoft 365, cloud security precautions are a must.

“Knowing what’s going on with our data and our logins is required for security and privacy,” De Fouw explains. “ManagedMethods pulls everything together into an easy to use dashboard. I don’t have to spend much time trying to use the built-in Google and Microsoft tools and trying to manage the complexities.”

K12 Cybersecurity & Safety Demo