Proactive Device Security for Faculties: Wesleyan University


The Institution: Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University is a diverse, energetic liberal arts community in Middletown, Connecticut. With its distinctive teacher-scholar culture, innovative programming, and collaborative commitment to interdisciplinary learning, Wesleyan challenges students to explore new ideas and change the world.

The University provides undergraduate instruction in 46 departments and 45 major fields of study, with another 11 fields for graduate degrees.

At Wesleyan, technology is increasingly used to teach, as many departments leverage laptops and mobile devices for hands-on learning in class.

Mobile devices extend communication and collaboration beyond classroom walls and support the university staff both on campus and on the road — where laptops power recruitment slideshows, and mobile devices are used for fundraising and alumni events.

Keeping Wesleyan Devices and Data Safe

Wesleyan’s Operations Team supports about 300 full-time faculty who need their computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets onboarded and managed as part of the Wesleyan network.

The team is responsible for day-to-day security of Wesleyan University’s mobile device fleet, from physically securing the equipment to dealing with phishing attacks and security threats. Faculty and students also turn to the Operations Team for help securing their personal devices and data.

Managing devices and their data on a college campus requires added vigilance for Personally Identifiable Information (PII) concerns. Wesleyan personnel work with students’ Social Security numbers and private information, and university devices may also have PII for graduates, alumni, and other employees.

For mobile devices, the Operations Team needs a retrieval solution or the ability to wipe mobile data should a device go missing. Wesleyan began to look for an anti-theft solution to manage their mobile computing devices.

Proactive Security For All Device Types and Operating Systems

Wesleyan first tried using the native find-my-phone apps built into many mobile devices as a piecemeal solution. That quickly presented issues because while the University owns the laptops, those machines don’t typically have the user’s personal accounts turned on, particularly with i/OS accounts, which prohibited the use of “find my iPhone.”

Wesleyan also didn’t have a Windows solution for finding a lost laptop, but it did find and implement a solution for Android devices. That initially looked promising, but the provider kept falling further behind in development promises for Apple and iOS products.

Clearly, the university needed a modern solution with full security functionality and the ability to work with all operating systems. A solution also needed to be easy to manage and keep up with O/S updates.

Wesleyan narrowed down the best solutions and ultimately choose Prey Anti-Theft, a simple yet powerful means to secure and prevent loss or theft of the university’s mobile devices. Prey’s cross-platform, open source security solution was the answer to consolidate Wesleyan’s diverse mobile device fleet for management on a single account. Wesleyan quickly gained a dashboard to track its devices of any make, model or operating system–supporting Windows, Android, Apple/iOS and even Linux.

“If one of our staff needs a laptop, Prey Anti-Theft goes on. It’s the standard package, you get the laptop, you get Prey,” said Vince Spiars, Operations Manager, Wesleyan University.

“It’s important that we deploy Prey and do the quick configuration alongside our users, because that’s part of the education and the campaign. Now we can track a device that’s lost or stolen, so don’t hide a loss, tell us the laptop is missing as soon as you can.”, he concluded.

Deployment of Prey has been steady as Wesleyan rolls it out by department as part of an overhaul of each department’s expanding mobile needs. Wesleyan is adding Prey Anti-Theft to any mobile device that belongs to the university, primarily on laptops.

It’s simple to install during the normal cycle of replacing or servicing machines. When the departmental roll-out is done, the Operations Team will use a group policy to ensure any remaining laptops are then prompted at reboot to get Prey.

“With Prey, I’m free to focus on the departmental groups, I don’t need to worry about platform. The Prey console makes it easy to tag users, put them in different groups and segment the devices more cleanly that way,” added Spairs. “It’s helpful to have all the information Prey gives even when devices aren’t missing.”

Benefits of Prey Anti-Theft at Wesleyan University

“We use Prey Anti-Theft as an insurance policy. Prey is the key to make sure that if a device with personal information on it goes missing, Wesleyan can brick that box and wipe the data clean,” said Vince Spairs.“Now with Prey, Wesleyan’s Operations Team just waits for a phone call that a device is lost or stolen, then we can turn it into a brick!”

Deploying Prey Anti-Theft is helping secure and manage Wesleyan’s mobile fleet in many ways:

Theft Prevention & Reporting – Wesleyan gained the ability to monitor and protect devices with Prey, preventing them from ever being lost or stolen in the first place. Should a laptop go missing, Prey makes it easy to generate a report with GPS location as well as photos to help the authorities track down and retrieve the device.

Remote File Retrieval & Wipe – PII and sensitive data can be identified on a missing device and then wiped away.

Multi-device Management – The Operations Team is able to track devices via the Prey dashboard with minimal time investment. Wesleyan has streamlined oversight of its mobile fleet with advanced search and labeling to organize and manage each department as a separate group within the university.

Mass Actions Controls – The Operations Team can trigger messages or alarms on any individual or group of devices to alert users to actions, such as returning laptops or updating a smartphone app.

Multi-platform Support at Lower Cost — Prey Anti Theft is a flexible, open source software solution that is built to work with any device or operating system, at significantly less cost than other comparable mobile security applications.

Free Student & Personal Protection — Because Prey is free for consumer use on up to 3 personal devices, Wesleyan can offer the same protection to students and faculty who want to secure their personal smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks and more.

Is your school ready to grow its digital assets? Avoid all the setbacks with a single management and anti-theft solution for your fleet.

Nicolas Poggi

Nicolas Poggi is the head of mobile research at Prey, Inc., provider of the open source Prey Anti-Theft software protecting eight million mobile devices. Nic’s work explores technology innovations within the mobile marketplace, and their impact upon security. Nic also serves as Prey’s communications manager, overseeing the company’s brand and content creation. Nic is a technology and contemporary culture journalist and author, and before joining Prey held positions as head of indie coverage at TheGameFanatics, and as FM radio host and interviewer at IndieAir.