Case study: South Staffordshire College

Redefining the security strategy

New levels of visibility and control over IT estate


South Staffordshire College

Solutions from F-Secure

F-Secure Elements Vulnerability Management
F-Secure Business Suite





South Staffordshire College is a further education college based across five sites in Staffordshire, England. Formed from a merger of Cannock Chase Technical College, Rodbaston College and Tamworth and Lichfield College in 2009, today the college has more than 600 staff and caters for 11,000 students. South Staffordshire College offers a wide range of further education courses aimed at both school leavers and those seeking opportunities later in life. Courses include NVQs and apprenticeships, covering everything from accounting to veterinary care.

Key stats:

  • 11,000 students
  • 600 staff
  • 2,740 endpoint devices
  • 5 campuses

South Staffordshire College needed better visibility of security across its IT estate as it progressed with its digital transformation journey. F-Secure Elements Vulnerability Management and F-Secure Business Suite enabled the team to detect new threats and gain full visibility of the security situation across the entire network for the first time.

The need for real visibility of the threat landscape

Digital transformation has been a strong focus for South Staffordshire College over the last 18 months under the direction of Jason Whitaker, Director of IT. Jason and his team of IT personnel have sought to modernize the college’s infrastructure to improve the learning experience for students. Digital transformation work has included a college-wide upgrade from Windows 7 along with numerous background updates and improvements to mobilize the teaching and learning environment.

Cyber security has been the foundation of this modernization campaign. In all, South Staffordshire College must account for the security of 2,740 endpoint devices across five campuses, in addition to the servers and personal devices of staff and students.

The college has responsibility for holding the personal details of thousands of students, including personal and financial data related to funding. This data falls under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and is a popular target for cyber criminals. Ensuring that it is secure is a priority for the college. 

"We needed a full and comprehensive view of what was on the network and a way of moving away from firefighting individual threats as they were found. ”

Jason Whitaker, Director of IT

Visibility was an issue when I came to our audit committees. To meet their requirements, we needed a full and comprehensive view of what was on the network and a way of moving away from firefighting individual threats as they were found.

“There were plenty of scanning options available to use, but none of them told us where we should be focusing our efforts – most offered far too much detail and red threat warnings. With an estate of more than 2,000 endpoint devices across five campuses, as well as a constant influx of visiting personal devices, this was a huge concern. With our previous tools it would have felt like death by a thousand cuts as we would have been busy fighting fires and had no time for strategic planning to move the college forward.”

Choosing F-Secure as a strategic security vendor

Jason commented: “As we continued to overhaul our IT infrastructure against our strategic roadmap, it was very important that we chose strategic partners that we could build a genuine relationship with, rather than it simply being a one-off purchase. F-Secure fitted the bill perfectly.”

The college had not previously worked with F-Secure, but discussions with the sales team established a strong sense of confidence in the vendor’s focus on strategic relationships. Technical demonstrations also displayed F-Secure Elements Vulnerability Management’s capabilities and ease of use.

F-Secure Elements Vulnerability Management also stood out from the competition due to its ability to scan thirdparties, enabling the college to check key service providers and identify issues such as missed patches that could later lead to security incidents.

The strong relationship was also a deciding factor in the college later investing in F-Secure Business Suite, an advanced endpoint security management package. Jason felt he needed more coverage in this area and was impressed by F-Secure’s commitment to customer service.

Redefining security strategy with F-Secure

South Staffordshire College chose F-Secure Elements Vulnerability Management to regain visibility and control of its IT estate. The solution identifies where an organisation’s assets are at risk and the team immediately began discovering vulnerabilities that had gone undetected under the previous security tools. Importantly for Jason and his team, F-Secure Elements Vulnerability Management collates the whole gamut of threat intelligence into a single accessible dashboard.

“For a small team like ours, this clarity of information, as well as the time saved was a tangible benefit.”

Jason Whitaker, Director of IT

“The F-Secure interface is very clean,” Jason comments. “It allows you to access the information in bite size chunks, with the ability to delve into the details if needed. For a small team like ours, this clarity of information, as well as the time saved, was a tangible benefit.”

F-Secure Elements Vulnerability Management’s reporting functions have formed the basis of the college’s security strategy. In addition to dealing with immediate threats as soon as they are identified, the team conducts a regular security meeting to discuss strategic priorities based on the intelligence provided by Vulnerability Management. The clear, concise reports created by the solution have also enabled Jason to provide evidence to the college’s leadership team, which informs decisions made on security priorities. 

Following the success of Vulnerability Management, the college also invested in F-Secure Business Suite to further bolster its endpoint management and threat detection capabilities.

“F-Secure has made a huge difference to the team’s efficiency and the overall security of the college. The solutions are a critical part of our five-year strategic security road map as we pursue Cyber Essentials Plus and ISO 27002 compliance.”

Jason Whitaker, Director of IT

Increase visibility to your security space and gain actionable insights with F-Secure Elements Vulnerability Management