by Aviva Zacks, Safety Detectives
Aviva Zacks of Safety Detectives had the opportunity to speak with CEO Charlie Sander to learn more about ManagedMethods.
Safety Detectives: What has your journey to cybersecurity been like?
Charlie Sander: I come from an engineering background and have been in the technology industry my whole career. In the past, I helped lead and grow companies in the database performance and storage sectors, so I’ve always been security-minded.
K-12 education was quickly becoming an industry heavily dependent on the cloud, as schools began using Google’s cloud collaboration applications in the early 2010s. However, the K-12 education industry didn’t quite understand how to protect them, and usually didn’t have the budget to do so.
In 2014, I joined my co-founders at ManagedMethods to build a cybersecurity product that makes securing the sensitive information stored in the cloud easy and affordable for K-12 school districts. And, in the process, help make schools safer.
SD: What is your company’s flagship product?
CS: The ManagedMethods cloud application security platform is our product. It monitors district Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 email, file sharing, and video apps to give IT admins full visibility and control of their cloud environment.
K-12 IT security is known for being understaffed, underfunded, and undertrained. ManagedMethods gives districts a centralized command center to help make managing the cybersecurity, student safety, and compliance risks in Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 easier for IT teams.
SD: How do you stay ahead of the competition?
CS: Our ability to give school districts the power to monitor both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 cloud environments from one dashboard helps us stay ahead of the competition. IT teams also use ManagedMethods to monitor both cybersecurity and student safety risks, which other companies in our space don’t provide.
IT teams became a critical component in protecting the safety of students during the pandemic. Our team saw this trend emerging and developed Signals—our industry-leading, AI-powered student safety monitoring tool—to help IT teams better detect safety signals hidden in their Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 apps.
We also give districts the ability to monitor and secure their virtual classrooms when using Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. This puts ManagedMethods in an ideal position as districts look to protect their schools, which now stretch far beyond the physical classroom.
SD: What are the worst cyberthreats today?
CS: While ransomware gets the most attention, there are many other threats impacting school districts. The threats we often see are the ones coming from those who have authorized access into a district’s Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 applications. Students, teachers, and staff.
The cyberthreats caused by students, teachers, and staff include the loss of sensitive district data, as well as unauthorized classroom invasions in Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. District data is lost when files are shared to accounts outside a district’s domain or external accounts are granted access into a cloud drive, which can happen if someone falls victim to a phishing attack. Classrooms are mostly invaded when a student not enrolled in the class, enters a video conference and causes an inappropriate disruption. These incidents are able to happen because students and staff have authorized access to the cloud apps their district uses, but their activity isn’t as closely watched as it should be.
These cyberthreats may be malicious or accidental, but they make up a large share of the cyberthreats experienced by districts. In fact, these data loss and class invasion incidents made up 81% of the cyberthreats experienced in 2020.
SD: How is the pandemic changing the way companies handle cybersecurity?
CS: School districts have been leading the way in terms of adopting cloud platforms, such as Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, but unfortunately weren’t leading the way in securing them. The pandemic changed that.
IT teams have accepted that students, teachers, and staff will continue to access their accounts from anywhere, at any time. They are shifting their strategies to focus more on who is accessing their cloud applications, what anomalous activity is taking place on the inside by students and staff, and where sensitive data is being moved to. It’s critical that districts monitor and secure their cloud apps, and we’re starting to see IT teams include this in their overall cybersecurity strategy.