An Integrated Approach to Security Helps De-Risk Remote Working and Learning at UWA

The overnight transition to remote working, teaching, and learning has been a major challenge for universities, not least because of potential cybersecurity implications. In a recent survey by Educause, more than 40% of respondents noted that security awareness training, email filtering, data loss prevention, and vulnerability scanning were more important now than ever before.  

Remote working and learning heightens a number of threats:

  • Mission-critical data is now traversing networks you do not control, like insecure home networks or public Wi-Fi
  • Employees are probably working with personally owned devices, which are often out-of-date, vulnerable or potentially insecure
  • Cyber criminals are using clever phishing and other tactics to spread malware or trick people into revealing privileged access credentials during a time of uncertainty.

Meet University of Western Australia

“Short of war, there’s probably nothing much that has impacted on this institution as much as COVID-19.”

Professor David Sadler, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Education

In terms of data, universities are big targets due to their abundance of sensitive, valuable information. The rapid shift to remote work places has placed a sudden strain on both security and IT teams in the university environment – just this year, UWA saw a 65% increase in cyber attacks.

The University of Western Australia (UWA) was ahead of the security curve: they had deployed an enterprise licensing agreement with Cisco more than a year before COVID-19 reared its head. That agreement with Cisco provided an integrated approach to securing critical systems and data at UWA, and formed part of a broader partnership with Cisco.

UWA and Cisco’s Security Partnership

“Our partnership with Cisco enabled us to, most importantly, instill trust – and trust in our staff that they could continue to work, and that their systems would be protected no matter where they were, and trust amongst our students that they could continue their studies with minimal disruption.”

Lee Patterson, Associate Director, Cyber Security & Technology Risk

With data no longer centralized on the campus network, UWA consistently faced risks around phishing attacks and data security. Thankfully, the partnership with Cisco allowed UWA to quickly execute against their enterprise agreement and commission a number of technologies and products that allowed UWA to minimize business disruption, while addressing the rise in cyber activity and threats. The Cisco Secure Remote Worker solution helped the security team at UWA to effectively protect the institution’s remote work and learning environments from threats by verifying user identities, securing remote access, and defending users and endpoints – devices like laptops and mobile phones.

Additionally, Cisco products enabled them to instill a trust in their staff that allowed them to continue to work, and that ensured their systems would be protected – no matter their location. Most importantly, it also established trust among their students, enabling them to continue their studies with minimal disruption.

>> Discover our new video on the Cisco-UWA partnership

>> Learn how Cisco facilitates safety and security in higher education.

>> Learn more about the Secure Remote Worker Solution

explore how Cisco is transforming education

How has your university been impacted by COVID-19? Discover how we’re keeping students and faculty safe, secure, and connected in higher education.


Reg Johnson

General Manager, Education

Cisco Australia and New Zealand