Desert Research Institute Standardizes Network Security and Cyber Security Management Across a Dynamic Threat Ecosystem

By Moti Sagey, Head of Strategic Marketing, Check Point

This research institute has grown in leaps and bounds. With government contracts and strict client security requirements to protect, learn how it uses Check Point to secure a global attack surface.


The Desert Research Institute (DRI) leads global efforts to investigate environmental changes and their impact. As a nonprofit research arm of the Nevada System of Higher Education, DRI conducts research projects spanning land, air, and sea. Its 550 employees travel globally, working on projects in most of the world’s countries.

Moti Sagey, Head of Strategic Marketing, Check Point: You have an interesting customer base. How do your customers’ needs influence your security strategy?

Brandon Peterson: Yes, we conduct environmental research for a wide range of government agencies in the US and other countries. We do work for the Department of Energy, Department of Defense and NASA, among other agencies. Projects typically revolve around atmospheric, hydrologic or other natural sciences such as fire ecology. Other non-governmental organizations also grant research contracts for fundamental or applied research. Our work generates information and intellectual property that rogue nations and cybercriminals would love to access. That makes data protection of paramount importance. Each contract comes with specific sets of data protection guidelines required by our client. We have client relationships that have been in place for more than 50 years so adhering to contract security parameters is critical to retaining those agreements.

In addition, this data resides and moves all over the world. We have multiple laboratories and analysis facilities, as well as mobile researchers who often work in remote or rugged environments. We have to be sure that no matter where the data is generated, transmitted, or stored that it remains protected.

Moti Sagey: How does your team handle all of the specific requirements for each customer?

Brandon Peterson: Carefully! We have a small team responsible for security across our vast footprint. We’re responding to rapidly changing threat environments, and we make multiple policy and gateway rule changes every day. Until recently, our security infrastructure included solutions from multiple vendors, including Check Point, for protecting various locations. We really wanted to standardize security across all locations to save time, optimize our team’s resources, and simplify management.

Moti Sagey: Why did you choose Check Point?

Brandon Peterson: The short answer is that it’s effective and it multiplies our efficiency. First, it works. Check Point has detected—and stopped—email-based malware that evaded controls at several large federal agencies. Users don’t have an easy way to confirm if files they receive are safe. Check Point gives us universal, automatic protection that stops threats every day—before we even know they’re here.

Second, Check Point R80 security management gives our team leading-edge capabilities. We can apply appropriate policy to network segments and do it on the fly. For example, policy for shared weather data will be different than policy for traffic from a sensitive military application. Concurrent management and Check Point automation multiply our efficiency. We can keep pace with dynamic threats and give our customers assurance that data is protected according to their requirements. Check Point is a tremendous partner.

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