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NYSERNet develops affordable security solution for vulnerability scanning

Any security professional will tell you the importance of performing vulnerability scans against your network. These scans assess computers, systems, and networks to help identify known weaknesses that could be exploited. This seems easy enough; however, to really mimic how hackers attempt to gain access to your network, the scan must be performed externally – something most institutions often can’t do on its own.

For already resource-constrained higher education and non-profit institutions, this posed a significant challenge, meaning external scans simply weren’t being performed or schools were paying astronomical fees to third-party vendors to conduct them. To this end, NYSERNet security professionals developed NYSERNet’s Scan+.

NYSERNet services are built for members and by members. In 2018, Mike Evans, NYSERNet’s director of information technology and information security officer, started working with five pilot institutions – from small private colleges to large educational systems – to build a scanning management tool and portal to perform external scans for members. This provided critical input in the development of the early Scan+ vulnerability scanning solution.

“Working with these pilot institutions was monumental to ensuring that what we were building would effectively enhance their security posture,” said Evans, who also previously served as a higher education information security officer in New York and brought this perspective to the development of this new solution.

One member institution provided this testimonial: “NYSERNET’s Scan+ service provides us with invaluable information regarding the external vulnerabilities of our organization. It affords us the opportunity to be proactive in closing the security gaps before the bad guys can take advantage of them. It is a valuable tool in our arsenal of security products that help keep our organization safe.”

Vulnerability scans are a first step in security mitigation and NYSERNet wants to ensure members have an affordable solution. The NYSERNet Scan+ service uses a flat rate pricing model versus many for-profit scanning offerings that are often based on a pay-by-the-IP-address model. This is a key differentiator to competitors that are not as friendly to stretched higher education budgets.

Additionally, the NYSERNet Scan+ solution has a customized portal that allows institutions to prioritize identified risks, track changes in risk posture over time and assign attributes to those risks, such as mitigation status, responsible parties, and planned remediation dates. All these features – from price to flexibility – offer schools a robust tool that allows them to have significant insights and visibility not previously available. Today, Scan+ continues to evolve, and institutions leveraging this service consider it a critical tool to their IT service portfolios.

Now more than ever before, securing your network is a top IT concern for institutions of all sizes. Scan+ is just one more way NYSERNet is an extension of its members’ existing staff and a trusted partner in its ongoing commitment to ensuring that members have affordable, adaptive solutions.

NYSERNet is New York State’s Research and Education advanced networking organization serving education, research, healthcare, and non-profit members. NYSERNet’s core mission is to advance science, research, and education missions of our members by delivering a full range of customized, progressive, and affordable end-to-end data and networking technology solutions.