Q&A with an Edtech Leader at Lewisville ISD

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Updated:January 27, 2022

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Updated:January 27, 2022

Table of Contents


More than 50,000 students attend Lewisville Independent School District’s 5 high schools, 15 middle schools, and 40 elementary schools. Chris Langford, Director of Network, Infrastructure, and Cybersecurity at Lewisville ISD, shares how they have deployed Cisco® technology to ensure greater connectivity partnered with cybersecurity and physical safety both on and off campus.

Executive Summary

Customer Name: Lewisville Independent School District

Industry: Education

Location: Lewisville, Texas

Number of Employees: 6,500 faculty and staff (50,000 students)



  Improve security for student and teacher devices while remote learning
  Maintain quality of learning in hybrid learning environments
  Protect against phishing attempts and fraudulent unemployment claims


  Cisco Webex


  Integration among all products, enabling granular controls over each one
  Blocking of phishing attempts and fraudulent unemployment claims
  No major security breaches with any student devices
  Teachers were able to make and receive calls without security risks


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With an Edtech Leader at Lewisville Independent School District

Q.  What steps have you taken at Lewisville ISD to protect students, educators, and staff from cyber threats?
A.  At Lewisville ISD, we balance investments in hardware, software, and services with education and training to protect our users. We’ve implemented a comprehensive suite of security solutions, from firewalls to malware protection (for endpoints and networks), email security, cloud security, network security, security analytics systems, content filtering, and more. With this technology, we’re able to detect and stop threats, improve visibility so we know who is on our network, protect the privacy of our users and their data, and ensure compliance with regulations such as the Children’s Internet Protection Act. We use BitSight to help us measure the effectiveness of our efforts to keep our students, teachers, and staff safe online. We’ve improved our BitSight Security Rating by 70 points in eight months. We’ve also seen changes in the numbers of staff members who click on phishing security tests. We’ve decreased the click rate to our simulated phishing tests by more than 50 percent in less than six months.
Q.  How has COVID-19 affected security within your school district?
A.  We saw a major increase in phishing attempts, and the Cisco Secure Email Cloud Mailbox was huge in being able to mitigate those risks. We implemented Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain-Based Message Authentication Reporting (DMARC) on all of our email domains, using Secure Email Cloud Mailbox. Like most public agencies, we also saw a major increase in fraudulent unemployment claims. We were able to use keyword blocking within Secure Email Cloud Mailbox to prevent some of those. These insights helped us to communicate with our Benefits Department to make sure they would not file any of those claims without reaching out directly to the employee.

Before the pandemic, traffic on student devices were filtered the exact same way off-site and on-site. However, the traffic from staff devices was not. When everybody went remote last year, we deployed the Cisco Umbrella agent to all of the devices so that we had the same filtering with Umbrella when they were off-site as we did when they were on-site. That provided a layer of protection that we didn’t have before.   
Q.  Did you have any major security incidents with the devices when everybody was home?
A.  Thankfully, we did not. We haven’t had any breaches or anything of that nature.
Q.  Why did your district choose Cisco® for your security and collaboration solutions?
A.  The biggest reason is the seamless integration between the products. We liked how all the different products could integrate with one another easily, and also the accessible granular controls. Another reason is that we liked the Cisco Security Enterprise Agreement. It is like an “all you can eat” package for five years where we could use these products, grow our usage, and not have to worry about true-ups or increased cost.
Q.  How are you leveraging the network to ensure physical safety on campus?
A.  We’ve made investments in technology to address cybersecurity and physical security over the last four years. We completed a voice-over IP refresh. We have also completed a camera refresh, where all the cameras are still on the network and have a strong Cisco infrastructure to do what they do. We have refreshed the older phones at 20 different locations and installed 1600 new phones to replace the older handsets. We have also completed the upgrade of the access control system. In the future, we plan to do the integration of access control, phone, and public address systems.
Q.  How have you used Umbrella in conjunction with SecureX, and what benefits have you seen?
A.  Right now, we are using SecureX for the advanced dashboards and reporting capability. We like the integration between the different products. It enables us to easily jump back and forth between Secure Endpoint and Umbrella and see those reports. We are looking forward to integrating SecureX even more in the near future.
Q.  Regarding security, which solution has been the most effective in regard to ROI in the past 1–2 years?
A.  The two biggest are Umbrella and Secure Email Cloud Mailbox because the staff interacts with them the most. With Secure Email Cloud Mailbox, we just have more granular control over email and the way it works. Regarding Umbrella, my team absolutely loves it. It was an easy setup and works just as designed. It’s great.
Q.  What best practices and actionable tips would you give for others to get started on their one-to-one device program?
A.  I think we were really lucky because we already had our one-to-one device program set up for fourth grade through twelfth grade.  For districts that are still trying to deploy one-to-one, I think the biggest thing is having an organized deployment plan. In Lewisville ISD, every campus has a playbook for the way the one-to-one program is going to be handled each year. These playbooks keep track of which students need devices, how to deploy these devices, lost, stolen, or broken devices, fees if there are any, students who lose or break their devices, and students who pay for insurance at the beginning of the year. Our Information Services team has built out dashboards where the campuses can keep track of everything. So, we kind of have it down to a science here, we just make tweaks every year. Knowing exactly how you’re going to deploy those devices to the students is the biggest thing you can do once you have devices on site. If you don’t have a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution, you need one to manage all the devices that are going home. It’s also important to make sure that all the software that you want on the device is ready when the students take them for the first time. We are more than willing to share this information with other districts. Having a plan for how you’re going to secure the devices is also huge. You can roll out Umbrella’s roaming client to secure all students, faculty, and staff working remotely.
Q.  Can you talk about your district’s choice of collaboration platform?
A.  We chose Webex because many of our admin staff had already been using Webex, so it made sense to expand that out. We also have a really good relationship with our Cisco partner, which is NetSync, and one of their engineers is closely tied to the Webex team. I think it was a great decision by our CTO and Digital Learning Team because the growth that we have seen in Webex with education-specific features has been great over the last year. We’ve been very happy with Webex as a collaboration platform.
Q.  Can you talk about the cloud calling capabilities for teachers and how it helped to keep them secure?
A.  When we were working remotely, teachers were able to make and receive phone calls as if they were sitting at their desk in school because Webex integrated with our Call Manager system. It prevented them from having to give out their personal information and allowed us to keep the same Time of Day calling rules that we had on campus, so they weren’t getting interrupted by calls while they were trying to teach. Webex was just an extension of their desk phone.


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