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Aurora Enterprises Earns an “A” From The University of California, San Francisco

Company Helps UCSF Preserve Security of Donor Information

•  Wanted to customize PGP Desktop
•  Wanted to add extra layer of security to donations
•  Needed to encrypt ADM database
•  Needed to work with vendor experienced in unique solutions

•  Contacted Aurora Enterprises

•  A customization never attempted before was successfully deployed
•  New encryption technology protects fundraising data

Founded in 1873, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is one of the world’s leading centers of health sciences research, patient care, and education. UCSF’s medical, pharmacy, dental, nursing, and graduate schools are among the top health science professional schools in the world.

As with many universities, UCSF relies in part on contributions from alumni to fund some of its programs. Ensuring the security of those donations is of paramount concern. 

“We had a major challenge,” said Jansen Lowe, UCSF Assistant Director of IS, of their search for effective encryption technology. The university was using SunGard Advance with an Advance Document Management (ADM) module, but SunGard could not provide technology to encrypt their database. “We asked them for help, and they didn’t have an answer,” Lowe said. “We needed software that would allow us to encrypt everything from network files to web servers.”

Lowe tried one software product that failed, and then began exploring the capabilities of PGP. “The more I looked into it, the more PGP seemed like the product that would do what we needed,” he recalls. “ I contacted PGP and they put us in touch with Aurora to help us go through our scenario, and find out if PGP can help us work out the challenge of encrypting our ADM database.”

“We commonly encrypt Excel files, text files, Word documents, very typical office suite software,” said James Lee, senior security architect at Aurora Enterprises. “UCSF were looking to encrypt data that doesn’t typically get encrypted. This was a much larger and more challenging situation.”

Not only did Aurora have to find a way for UCSF to handle file encryption on their network share drive,  they needed to make certain that the solution would work with the university’s other systems, including other proprietary systems running on the university’s internal network, and additional databases.

However, the most significant area of concern was the ADM system that tracks information on alumni donations. “When someone donates to the school, the school scans the check into their system, so they can enter any related information, look it up later, or any time, to send a note to the person or acknowledge the donation,” Lee said.  “They needed the images of the checks encrypted to ensure that if anyone gained access to their system, they wouldn’t be able to read the checks.”

After trying several different scenarios, Lee found a solution that worked. He installed PGP Desktop with a technology called NetShare that encrypts files like a normal file storage system. “We encrypted all the check images in their directory and then were able to service those images to the end user, so they are able to see the checks,” Lee said.

Lee also wrote the script for a custom scheduler to re-encrypt the files each night, to ensure that only proper users have access to those files. Aurora completed its installation and configuration of the server in less than one month.

Training on the new system has not been an issue, according to Jansen Lowe. “We have 200 end users, and we had to show them how the encryption technologies work, but a lot of the tasks will be transparent, and Aurora has made them as easy as possible. With PGP on their desktop, our users won’t have any problem opening encrypted files.”

Lowe has already spoken to representatives at another university about UCSF’s new encryption system. “A lot of universities use the SunGard application and the ADM, so they will come into the same problem that we were having. So I spoke to another university rep and gave them some information about what Aurora is doing for us.”

“Now, when someone unauthorized tries to enter the UCSF system they shouldn’t be able to read any confidential information,” Lee said. “Aurora and PGP have added a level of security to the business processes at UCSF that they didn’t have before, and that should serve the university and their alumni well.”

About Aurora Enterprises

Aurora Enterprises is a leading California-based IT Solution Provider specializing in data security and compliance solutions for the medical, finance and government verticals. Founded in 1990, Aurora has been providing its clients with a range of security consulting services to help them comply with regulatory compliancy mandates. Specialization in messaging security and encryption solutions has earned Aurora Enterprises an excellent reputation amongst security vendors and clients looking to partner with a solution provider to secure their network and data. Aurora also has 9 contracts with the State of California to provide state agencies with IT hardware, software and consulting services. For more information about Aurora Enterprises, please call 310-530-8260 or visit

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