Office of Information Technology, Princeton University

Located in Princeton, New Jersey,
the Office of Information Technology
supports the IT needs of Princeton


  • Proofpoint Enterprise Protection™


  • On-premises appliances/li>
  • Virtual appliances

Office of Information Technology, Princeton UniversityEXECUTIVE SUMMARY After replacing a multi-vendor solution with Proofpoint, the Office of Information Technology at Princeton employs a combination of on-premises and virtual appliances for inbound mail and has witnessed a dramatic reduction in spam. In fact, Proofpoint Enterprise Protection blocks about 82 percent of the messages. Of two-million emails a day, 200,000 to 250,000 messages come through as legitimate emails. In addition, suspected spam, specific messages that appear on the digest, has plummeted from 10 to 15 per day to just one or two.

Initially, virus and spam protection for Princeton's 12,000 users consisted of a firewall from one vendor and spam protection from another. With less than satisfactory results, Proofpoint was brought in to perform a quarantine function. The three vendor approach caused maintenance difficulties and ended up being unnecessary since Proofpoint could handle all three functions. The University's Office of Information Technology consolidated on four Proofpoint appliances for redundancy, co-located in two data centers, and saved about $20,000 a year on maintenance alone. The amount of time the IT department spends troubleshooting has also diminished since the Proofpoint user interface offers complete policy management for customized needs.

As an educational institution with over 7,000 students and 5,000 employee mailboxes to protect, keeping spam, viruses, and phishing attacks at bay is a complicated task for the Office of Information Technology at Princeton.

Prior to the Proofpoint deployment, phishing attacks were more common, leading unsuspecting users to answer phishing messages. In addition, spammers were using some email accounts to launch attacks outward on the Internet. Proofpoint's technology has nearly eliminated both problems.

"Proofpoint's protection solution analyzes two-million messages per day and is blocking over 80 percent off the top. Only about 200K to 250K messages are coming through as legitimate emails. Over the past two weeks, we had 170 real phishing messages and not one got through," said Joe Karam, Manager for Enterprise Applications at Princeton University. "It used to be that there were complaints that people were getting spam and having to take time to weed through junk in their mailbox. They're just not seeing it now. We don't get any complaints like that anymore, and in this case, no news from users is good news for us."

When the errant spam makes it through the system, the OIT will add that to the spam learning algorithm, a powerful feature of Proofpoint's MLX technology, but such situations are rare since Proofpoint updates usually pick up the problem right away. Proofpoint's spam and phish blocking proficiency has made it easier on OIT to handle email threats along with their other responsibilities.

With Proofpoint onpremise and virtual appliances, OIT is also exploring future options in the cloud, especially for student email. Based on its positive experience with Proofpoint, OIT is also planning to evaluate Proofpoint's archiving functionality in the coming year.

"We've been very happy with Proofpoint overall and the technical support we've received. We also had a dedicated technical manager and she helped us through the complete migration. It was very, very helpful to have her work with us and the engineers. That was a major benefit during the migration to Proofpoint Enterprise Protection," said Karam.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) enables the effective use of information technology in support of Princeton University. OIT has responsibility for overseeing Princeton's academic and administrative systems and the information technology infrastructure that supports them. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction to approximately 5,000 undergraduate students and 2,500 graduate students.

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