Innovative Technological Solutions for the New Learning Paradigm

When learning and teaching went remote in the spring of 2020, schools were quick to adopt digital technologies and implement one-to-one initiatives to align with the new normal.

The hasty migration to cloud-based virtual learning models via smart devices meant that little to no priority was given to securing networks. The transition created an avalanche of susceptible endpoints for cybercriminals to exploit, prompting a plague of cyberattacks that continue to this day. Subsequently, adopting more efficient cybersecurity protocols across the U.S. education system has become a top priority for the cybersecurity industry to support this rapid digital transformation effort and new tech-assisted learning model.

Custom Computer Specialists (Custom) is a leader in this space, empowering K-12 institutions to radically enhance their cyber resilience. As a leading professional service firm in the U.S., the company is well-positioned to render security solutions and technical assistance to school districts, supporting a much-needed transition from traditional tools to electronic devices. CCS provides unmatched thought leadership expertise and guidance to the K-12 community and assists them in implementing robust and innovative technology solutions to foster learning with greater impact. Since its inception in 1979, the company has guided myriad organizations—state and local governments, commercial businesses, and major schools across the Northeast—and helped them effectively address their needs for digital learning environments.

“Our strength is our people, who bring extensive experience in the education space as administrators, faculty members, and IT staff. We are passionate about making a world of difference in the K-12 space,” says Greg Galdi, Founder and CEO of Custom Computer Specialists. “Our clients are confident that we will efficiently deliver and that’s the culture we have fostered.”

Delivering Right, Promising the Best 

With an experienced team of dedicated education specialists having a keen interest in community building, Custom is well positioned to solve IT issues of all sizes. Being in the industry for many decades, the company has seen all the challenges that prevent school districts from achieving operational excellence and has implemented technology solutions to alleviate them. Putting this experience into action, CCS works with clients to build a technology roadmap and implement innovative solutions that set them on the path to success.

To ensure that a solution’s implementation best meets clients’ specific needs, Custom partakes in comprehensive discussions with them to understand their environment, end user locations, and operational requirements. The information is then leveraged to assemble solutions and services that address their needs while helping build a robust security posture. Part of this involves phishing campaigns and tabletop exercises, where the Custom team educates end users on healthy and secure ways to access the internet. The company ensures that clients always implement a defense-in-depth user protection model that offers multiple layers of protection to end users. Formulating an incidence response plan is also part of Custom’s service portfolio, allowing school districts to be prepared to combat cyber incidents.

A Specialist Touch to Security 

Its customer-oriented operations have garnered Custom a stellar reputation within the U.S. education industry as a company dedicated to its customers and the community. For one particular school district, Custom helped the client recover after a severe cyberattack in record-breaking time. The client had been operating on a fully remote model, where their end-users were instructing students remotely. At 4am one morning, the school district suspected a malicious cyberactivity over their systems. By 6am, they were under full attack. A testing period was about to begin in the state, and the client needed to get back up and running quickly. Custom immediately began the remediation processes and deployed technology solutions that brought the client back online within 24 hours, as opposed to a typical recovery process that can take weeks, if not months.

CCS also worked with the client to identify the most critical systems necessary to support their remote learning technologies and brought them back as quickly as possible. In addition, the company provided them with thought leadership and guidance to implement augmented levels of cybersecurity to protect their most vulnerable endpoints and minimize the occurrence of cyberattacks in the future.

Bringing Expertise to the Test

“Our ability to help clients embrace cutting-edge technologies and align with the changing tides has enabled us to serve and retain a broad clientele over the last 30 years,” states Suzanne McLaughlin, Executive Vice President at Custom.

For instance, when the pandemic first hit, K-12 institutions were required to provide teaching and learning experiences that supported learning in classrooms and remote locations. In response to this development, the company designed and built a new multi-layer learning solution for its K-12 clients called Custom Classroom, which incorporates different aspects of technology. It serves as a hybrid learning platform that enables teachers to instruct students—either at home or in the classroom—from anywhere. The Custom Classroom includes immersive video conferencing capabilities that bring students together onto one platform, enabling them to interact with peers and teachers in real-time and gain the same level of experience as in a classroom.

To help school districts further enhance their remote learning experience, Custom offers a robust solution in collaboration with Infinite Campus. It serves as part of their student information system, helping school authorities track student performance and activities from an overall assessment perspective and identify how they have grown in the new remote learning environment. Custom has also established a remote learning helpdesk that provides assistance to parents and families.

Custom’s CustomHelpDesk for Education continues to be instrumental in assisting remotely learning students, their parents, caregivers, and teachers to eliminate all challenges that prevent them from gaining seamless access to virtual classrooms. Whether it’s a connectivity issue, a problem with accessing instructional technology and online resources, trouble communicating with teachers, or attaining an immersive experience, CustomHelpDesk covers it all. Users can connect to Custom via email or chat, raise their concerns, and get immediate assistance from its well-trained support team.

Envisioning a Secure Learning Ecosystem 

Custom’s innovation-first approach, industry expertise and commitment to the education space have enabled the company to stay at the forefront of delivering meaningful solutions to K-12 clients. Because of this reputation, numerous K-12 institutions in the U.S. partner with Custom year after year. Custom regularly competes with prominent national and even international players in the space by leveraging its invaluable human resources.

“We were born with the customer service gene and we always strive to punch above our weight when it comes to delivering services to our clients,” says Galdi.

Looking ahead, Custom aspires to introduce even higher levels of cybersecurity and other functionalities to its solutions to ensure its clients are ready for the new digital era. To this end, the company is looking to acquire other firms while also keeping its focus on collaborating with and helping more clients, irrespective of their size and issues. Committed to supporting its clientele in the future, the company is always searching for new challenges in the market and preparing itself to help clients keep those vulnerabilities at bay. Team Custom never shies away from challenges, but always strives to stay relevant and competitive in figuring out ideal ways to mitigate them quickly to support clients’ journey in today’s age of digital transformation.