How Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon Improved Security and Achieved Compliance

By: Juanma Rodriguez | 7/26/2018

According to a recent survey, most people (71 percent) want their state and local governments to spend more money on preventative cybersecurity measures and even more people (74 percent) think officials should take steps to better secure constituents’ personal data. Constituent demand isn’t the only demand driver, however. Compliance demands also illustrate state and local governments have their work cut out for them when it comes to bolstering security.ESCO Logo

Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon (ECSO) is a combined emergency dispatch facility in Medford, Oregon that serves a population of 200,000 area residents. So that they could improve uninterrupted access to crucial data and thereby reduce incidents that could escalate into critical or even life-threatening situations for the police officers, fire fighters and emergency services personnel and achieve compliance, ECSO needed better visibility and control over their endpoint population. They turned to Absolute.

ECSO’s small IT team, led by Corey Nelson, supports the entire network infrastructure. That includes workstations, servers, and 220 fire and police vehicles equipped with always-operational mobile computers that are essential for receiving critical information from the field to dispatch emergency services. Most of the time, these endpoints are in the field, outside of the direct control of IT, but these devices still need to be appropriately maintained and protected.

CJIS Compliant

Historically, mobile computers could only communicate with ECSO’s systems through a VPN connection. In the past, once that connection was broken, they would lose all visibility and control of the device. However, the stringent Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Security Policy requires devices be under the control of IT at all times.

“CJIS wants you to prove that devices are encrypted and you could remotely wipe them, and I didn’t have a good tool to do that,” Nelson admitted.

To comply with CJIS, ECSO monitors and proves encryption status with Absolute encryption reports. They are now looking to enforce it on all devices using Application Persistence which can also make their essential mapping and dispatching applications persistent on all field devices to maximize productivity. “Law enforcement uses them all the time whenever they initiate traffic stops,” Nelson explained.

“We have to meet CJIS requirements for federal security standards. If we see some unusual activity, we notify the local security officers and the agency. Depending on the risk, we can either freeze or wipe the computer. I was really impressed with Absolute’s ability to still see that device, check its status, and remotely freeze or wipe it, as long as it has any kind of internet connection, even if all the security has been removed, which is a great feature I never expected,” Nelson confessed.

But there was more than CJIS compliance at stake.

Uninterrupted Data Access

“If a device is undergoing Windows updates and the hard drive gets full, it can cause a lot of problems. In the past, if the field officer didn’t report the issue, I wouldn’t know that computer wasn’t really working. They need access to crucial data to make the right decision on the appropriate protocol in seconds. If the computer doesn’t work correctly and they can’t use our dispatch application to run the license plate of a vehicle in front of them, they have to go ahead and initiate a traffic stop. However, the person in that car could have a warrant,” Nelson pointed out.

With the activation of Absolute, ECSO saw immediate improvement in day-to-day operations with visibility and control over all devices, regardless of network, location, or issues.

[bctt tweet="With the activation of the Absolute Platform, @ECSOIncidents saw immediate improvement in day-to-day operations with visibility and control over all devices, regardless of network, location, or issues. " username="absolutecorp"]

“It’s been just wonderful seeing where our devices are out there, and all the information about them. I don’t have to worry or dig into the data, I just turn on the reports I want, and let Absolute tell me, hey, you need to look at this, there’s a problem here.”

With all of that information, ECSO’s IT team can now be more proactive, effective, efficient and in compliance with CJIS.

To read the full story behind ECSO’s improved endpoint visibility and control, read the story here and also learn more about how Absolute supports state and local governments.

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