College System Improves Incident Reporting and Management

VIRGINIA − In an effort to keep up with information security risks and threats and improve the incident management process between 23 colleges and the administration office, the Virginia Community College System has implemented TIPS, an innovative risk management software platform from Awareity. 

TIPS provides the Information Security Officers (ISOs) from each of the 23 colleges with a secure online incident reporting platform to report suspicious activities and incidents. ISOs will also be better prepared to share investigation details, suggested actions, next steps, guidance and follow-up with system office personnel to determine the best overall response.

TIPS empowers each organization to create customized incident report types to best fit their needs as well as meeting VCCS-wide needs such as ccompromised assets, compromised information, denial of service attacks, E-mail security, hacking, malware, policy violations or unlawful activities. Each incident type report form is then customized to gain critical information and details needed for investigation. 

“Before TIPS, it was often difficult to coordinate actions with each of the community college ISOs and keep track of all steps taken. Many times the system office was unaware of an incident that may have occurred on one campus and was unable to communicate lessons learned to the other campuses,” explains VCCS CISO Thomas Bowers. “With TIPS, we are now receiving reports in a timely fashion and can document all response efforts, saving countless hours and resources keeping track of information through e-mails, spreadsheets and meetings.”

When an incident report is submitted via TIPS, an immediate notification is sent to each of the assigned team members at the campus location where the incident occurred and to assigned personnel at the system office. Team members can easily login to the secure TIPS platform to review incident details, review actions taken by other team members, upload supporting reports or documents, determine next steps and set reminders for follow-up and follow-through. All report details and actions are tracked and documented and can be categorized for end-of-year reporting and compliance efforts. 

TIPS also provides a secure online document Vault, which allows VCCS to share system-wide and organization-specific policies, procedures, training, new updates and requirements with each of the community college ISOs. The awareness vault also ensures all appropriate individuals have read, understand and acknowledge accountability for their individual roles and responsibilities.

TIPS provides on-demand progress reports to determine if personnel have read and completed all training requirements from the system office. 

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