PA Cyber Relies on Absolute Secure Endpoint to Support Remote Learning Strategy

PA Cyber Leverages Absolute Endpoint Controls to Manage, Secure, and Recover Devices

The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) in Midland, PA, is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online K-12 public schools in the nation. More than 20 years ago, students in western Pennsylvania lost their area high school, and the nearest option for displaced students was across state lines in Ohio; this prompted administrators to step in and launch a fully online school. Today, PA Cyber offers online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula with state-certified and highly qualified teachers.

The Story

Manage and Secure a 15,000 Remote Device Fleet

PA Cyber is a pioneer in remote learning. And because they have been so far out front in the field, “we were able to find the potholes before people even knew there were potholes,” said Dean Phillips, Director of Technology at PA Cyber. “By the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we had already evolved into a bulletproof system.”

With approximately 15,000 devices spread across Pennsylvania, Phillips and his team needed a way to manage and secure the devices remotely. And because budgets are always tight, they also needed a way to recover devices in a timely manner and ensure students returned the school-owned equipment.

Security Challenges

Increases Device
Reclamation Rate

Ensures
Endpoint Resilience

Improves
Device Visibility

"With the right technology resources in place, including Absolute, we can ensure an exceptional, seamless remote learning experience."

DEAN PHILLIPS
DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY
PA CYBER CHARTER SCHOOL

The Solutions

How They Did It

Increase Device Visibility and Monitor Mission-Critical Applications

PA Cyber first turned to Absolute Secure Endpoint to gain unprecedented visibility into device location and the ability to remotely freeze and wipe them if they weren’t returned. By leveraging Absolute Application Resilience™ capabilities, Phillips and his team can now also ensure that their IT management solution, Kaseya®, which they use to remotely push out security patches, new applications, and scripts, is always working as intended. Absolute Application Resilience monitors mission-critical applications’ health and behavior; detects if missing, corrupted, or not running; and automatically repairs or re-installs components when necessary – without requiring human intervention. These capabilities are available for those applications that are covered in the Absolute Application Resilience catalog, which constantly grows.

Track and Locate Devices, No Matter Where They Are

After years of experimenting with how best to manage and secure their devices, PA Cyber now has a fully automated remote help desk for their students, faculty, and staff. Absolute Application Resilience ensures this critical application is always working.

For PA Cyber, reclaiming devices is critical to ensuring the right resources are available for incoming students. With Absolute Secure Endpoint, the IT team can remotely locate the laptops and freeze them when necessary, which has since increased their device reclamation rate significantly.

Improve IT Efficiencies While Reducing Help Desk Calls

Prior to implementing Kaseya, students would have to call the school’s IT help desk for support. Or, IT would have to call student families and apply security patches or add applications one by one. The required hours and tech time were astronomical.

"Our equipment goes in households that range from folks who are not technologically savvy all the way to folks who are literally rocket scientists. They all love our technology, right down to the pre-loaded software. When we put Absolute Secure Endpoint in place, it just worked."

DEAN PHILLIPS
DIRECTOR OF TECHNOLOGY
PA CYBER CHARTER SCHOOL

The Results

Supporting a Remote Learning Strategy

Today, as schools across the country are scrambling to stand up, monitor, manage, and measure distance learning programs in the “new normal,” PA Cyber is getting calls on how to do it right—everything from ‘can you give us a hint on how to do this’ to ‘take us through remote learning do’s and don’ts.’

“We are giving our peers an idea of what works and what doesn’t in online learning—technology is certainly a huge part of that,” Phillips said. “Education over the Internet isn’t easy for brick and mortar schools. It’s taken our organization some time to get to the point where it’s an everyday occurrence for us.”

“Thankfully, with the right technology resources in place, including Absolute, we can ensure an exceptional, seamless remote learning experience,” Phillips said.

For PA Cyber, Absolute Secure Endpoint:

  • Allows the IT team to remotely locate laptops and freeze them when necessary, increasing their device reclamation rate significantly
  • Establishes a fully automated remote help desk for its students, faculty, and staff by leveraging Absolute Application Resilience to ensure that their helpdesk app Kaseya is always working as intended
  • Improves visibility across its device fleet

Absolute Platform FAQ

The Absolute® Platform leverages a cloud-based, highly-available and secure multi-tenant architecture that is available across different regions. It’s comprised of a variety of foundational components that power Absolute product features that are being leveraged by the company’s enterprise customers and ecosystems partners (e.g., independent software vendors, original equipment manufacturers, or managed service providers) alike.

The Absolute Platform consists of three core components:

  • Absolute Persistence Technology

Absolute Persistence® technology, a unique, patented technology is already embedded in over 600 million devices as a result of Absolute’s partnership with nearly 30 system manufacturers from around the world. Once activated, this technology is fiercely resilient and is the only solution to survive attempts to disable it, even if the device is re-imaged, the hard drive is replaced, or the firmware is updated.

No other technology can do this. Ultimately, it provides a secure, unbreakable, and always-on connection between the Absolute Platform and the endpoint, allowing you to gain unprecedented real-time visibility, control, and remediation capabilities.

  • Absolute Resilience Technology

The Absolute Platform utilizes two types of patented Absolute Resilience™ technology to ensure that mission-critical applications remain healthy and operational and to provide end users with the most productive, as well as optimized remote access experience possible:

  • Application Resilience™: Monitors mission-critical applications’ health and behavior; detects if missing, corrupted, or not running; and automatically repairs or re-installs components when necessary – without requiring human intervention. Application Resilience ensures security controls are working as expected and provides optimal user experience by fixing unhealthy applications. Currently more than 60 mission-critical applications are enabled for Application Resilience and more are being added frequently.
  • Network Resilience™: Monitors and automatically, as well as transparently restores and optimizes unhealthy network connections so networked applications continue to operate without end user-impacting interruptions that would otherwise require manual application restarts, network re-connects, and/or re-authentications. Network Resilience allows for superior connectivity and reliability, allowing end users to focus on their tasks and not network behavior.
  • Absolute Intelligence

Absolute ensures a digital tether to each device remains intact, providing you with reliable insights and intelligence from all of your endpoints to the network edge — on or off your corporate network.

Hundreds of data points are gathered and served up as insights, providing guidance on utilization, health, security and compliance posture, as well as a unified view into the entire end user experience. Applying AI-based risk assessment and user entity behavior analytics lets you go beyond the monitoring of resources and applications, allowing for automated remediation and uncompromised user productivity.

Other foundational components of the Absolute Platform that enable the Absolute Secure Endpoint™ and Secure Access™ products are as follows:

  • Web console
  • Mobile app
  • Rules and policy engine
  • Alerts
  • Dashboards
  • APIs
  • Application Persistence-as-a-Service SDK
  • Third-party integrations (e.g., SIEM, ITSM)

Customers can leverage the Absolute Platform components through Absolute’s packaged products, APIs, and SDKs. The result will be rapid innovation. The Absolute Platform is always included in the product package of choice.

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