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Case Study: La Jolla Institute Takes On Cybersecurity

The Company

The La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (LJI) is dedicated to researching and understanding the human immune system. The non-profit research organization consists of 23 independent laboratories led by world leaders in immunology. This multi-lab environment encourages out-of-the-box thinking, creative problem solving, and collaboration between researchers, which leads to life-saving innovations. LJI scientists produce some of the most cited research papers in the field.

The Situation

Michael Scarpelli is the IT Director at LJI. His position is similar to that of a castellan trying to oversee and secure 23 individual castles. Each of the laboratories he works with has a separate budget and separate research-specific computing requirements. Meeting the laboratories’ needs led to an environment where Windows/Linux boxes run the backend systems while users work on Mac and PC desktops.

One drawback LJI encountered when using other antivirus (AV) solutions in its technologically-mixed environment was endpoints losing connection to the central security console. Disconnected endpoints would not receive security updates, meaning they often had to go through a lengthy rebooting process to reconnect and refresh their agents. Pop-up warnings and alerts on end-user devices also interrupted workflow and caused researchers to infer that the AV solution was disrupting research.

LJI stores a considerable amount of legacy research, microscope images, well-plate images, and other unique scientific data on their systems. While business organizations are often concerned with losing customer information, LJI is concerned with losing research data that could take years to reproduce. When Michael noticed that adware was making it into the environment, he decided a more robust solution was needed.

The Process

Michael attended a BlackBerry Cylance head-to-head demonstration which pitted CylancePROTECT® against LJI’s legacy security solution in a prepared test environment. The competing solutions were subjected to an array of predetermined malware samples and threat agents. Things went well for BlackBerry Cylance. In fact, they went a little too well.

“In that instance, our current solution caught nothing, and Cylance caught everything,” Michael said. “Our Cylance rep sounded pretty embarrassed because it was so one-sided it looked as if they staged it. He said, ‘this doesn’t normally happen.’”

The demo confirmed Michael’s suspicion that his AV solution was allowing too much adware and spyware through the perimeter. The initial rollout of CylancePROTECT and CylanceOPTICS™ was limited to a handful of designated laboratories. Michael and his team performed the deployment, contacting the BlackBerry Cylance support team by phone as necessary. After the test period, BlackBerry Cylance was rolled out to the rest of the LJI laboratories without any major difficulties.

The Results

The easy implementation of CylancePROTECT and CylanceOPTICS impressed LJI because the institute’s numerous laboratories rely on a wide variety of technology. BlackBerry Cylance provides a lightweight, highly-customizable solution that is both effective and non-intrusive to the research work performed at LJI. With BlackBerry Cylance products in place, researchers no longer suffer through long reboots or distracting security popups.

CylanceOPTICS proved especially valuable to Michael, who considered running a managed SIEM or hiring a security agency to monitor LJI’s infrastructure. The cost of SIEM services or independent security monitoring would have taken a considerable toll on his limited budget.

Using CylancePROTECT and CylanceOPTICS puts a wealth of information at Michael’s fingertips and allows him to manage the environment without further expense. “Cylance is enabling us to be in control of security in a way that previously felt like we needed someone else to do for us,” he says.


INDUSTRY: Medical, Research
300 endpoints, Windows/Linux boxes, Mac and PC desktops
  •  Specialized environment
  •  Small IT team
  •  Laboratory coordination and cooperation
  •  BYOD connectivity

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