Prague University of Economics and Business

Personal Data Protection – Visibility Into Large-scale Infrastructure

The customer is the largest university of economics in the Czech Republic. The university consists of six faculties, which are located at three different locations and attended by more than 13,000 students and staff. At other locations, the university operates canteens (with a daily frequency of more than 4,000 entries), dormitory accommodation (with about 6,000 identities passing through it annually), and several sports facilities.

The customer’s infrastructure consists of a number of sub-networks and over 3,000 Wi-Fi access points on the Eduroam national research and education network. Because of the huge computer network usage and amount of data, the customer falls into the enterprise category.

  • The extensive infrastructure includes several locations, a number of subnets, several thousand Wi-Fi access points and the processing of a huge amount of data, including personal data.
  • The institution must comply with the Czech Cybersecurity Act.
  • Protection of various systems (the student information system, accommodation and canteen management, digitalization of education, …).
  • Ensuring the security of the electronic elections to the academic senates of individual faculties.
  • Visualization and interpretation of data flows and complex data structures as understandable hypotheses about the cause of anomalous events and their impact.

Challenges: Protecting Vast Amounts of Sensitive Data

“Universities are common targets for cyber criminals, and this tendency will increase. That’s why cyber security is a constant theme for the CIO of the university and his team. Academic institutions’ IT has an enterprise architecture and there is an increasing digitization of their internal agenda in all areas. Therefore, cyber security is an integral part of our ICT services and we have to detect anomalies proactively,” explains Ing. Milan Nidl, MBA – CIO of the Informatics Centre of the Prague University of Economics and Business.

All of the university’s systems are managed by about fifty servers. These systems are, for example, the student information system, the system for the management of accommodation and canteens, the digitization of the educational processes and others. A huge amount of data flows through them, especially personal data, but also economic and know-how. All of this needs to be protected, and not only from the perspective of GDPR.

As a university, the customer is also subject to legal obligations under the Czech Cybersecurity Act, which imposes strict conditions on the organization’s cybersecurity. The customer needs to ensure network security monitoring and the detection of any security and operational issues. In addition, the aim in 2021 was to secure the first electronic elections for the academic senates of the individual faculties.

Because of the excessive processing of personal data, the customer is obliged to identify those systems that process it and categorize them as significant information systems. “To do this, I need a tool that shows the flow of all data, shows the connections between it and filters out all unnecessary information,” says Karel Šimeček, the cybersecurity manager of Prague University of Economics and Business.

“GREYCORTEX Mendel helps me find what I need, even if sometimes I don’t know exactly what to look for. The perfect visualization helps us to understand the essence and scale of the problem – this is the most important feature of the system. On top of that, the visualization of network communication is understandable, even for the university’s management without a technical background.”

Ing. Karel Šimeček, Ph.D. –  Cybersecurity manager of Prague University of Economics and Business

  • Intuitive navigation through the entire customer’s infrastructure and easy analysis of network events.
  • Integration of the Mendel solution into the customer’s existing LOGmanager.
  • The ability to monitor and control compliance with Czech legislation, internal regulations and other regulations and standards.
  • Effective anomaly diagnosis and investigation of suspicious communications or access to classified information.
  • The prediction of occurrences of excessive operational conditions, incidents or security breaches.
  • Checking  network and system configuration changes made by component, application module and contracted third-party administrators.

Results: An Interactive Network Overview

GREYCORTEX Mendel is deployed on a central switch that connects all network infrastructure, so our solution can monitor all traffic.

Despite the large-scale infrastructure, only a team of a few people takes care of the institution’s cybersecurity, so the customer welcomes the ease of use and Mendel’s integration with a LOGmanager. “We can see all events and their frequency in the LOGmanager. We then take a closer look at selected events in Mendel to see their causes,” adds Šimeček. Also, interactive analytics makes the customer’s work easier.

Teams from different departments (data network management, control of servers, classrooms, security infrastructure, …) can work with the tool at the same time, and thanks to the visual interpretation of events, the customer’s specialists can easily identify the causes of the problem.

Also, GREYCORTEX Mendel met the customer’s expectations by ensuring the regularity of the process and the indisputability of the results of the electronic elections.