guard.me

guard.me Relies on MySQL Enterprise Edition
for Enhanced Security and Regulatory Compliance

"We chose MySQL Enterprise Edition over Microsoft SQL Server, as it provided all the tools we needed to secure our database at low costs, compared to the astronomically expensive Microsoft."

Tony Searle
CIO
guard.me

International student insurance company secures personal information of policy holders and ensures compliance with data privacy regulations with MySQL Enterprise Edition.

Introduction and Background

guard.me International Insurance is a leading provider of international student health insurance and a trusted partner for private and public universities, colleges, and language schools. They provide comprehensive health insurance products for students studying in Canada and Europe, as well as teachers and participants in exchange, co-op and work-abroad programs.

Through collaborating with their institutional partners, guard.me offers unparalleled programs, innovative technology, and mobile tools to make it easier for students to access essential information and services. Since 1994, they have continually worked to surpass industry standards and exceed the expectations of their partners by delivering superior service, complete policy benefits and fast, efficient claims processing.

guard.me has received numerous awards and recognition for their client-focused approach and corporate philanthropy; and takes pride in keeping international students healthy and safe when it matters most.

Business Challenges and Goals

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) requires safe keeping of health records for up to 15 years. With more than 1.3 million student records to protect, guard.me needed a database solution that would eliminate security risks associated with holding large volumes of Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Running its databases on MySQL Community Edition since 2019, guard.me encountered performance issues with the Guard Me Information System (GMIS) application. Consequently, the company sought a database solution that would sustain parallel processing of threads to increase the performance of the database.

To ensure the availability of all data even in case of a disaster, guard.me was running daily backups of its databases. However, the long-running backups of database instances in the United Kingdom and Ireland impacted the availability of the GMIS application in Canada. To avoid any application downtime, guard.me needed to ensure fast backups without hampering system availability.

Business Results and Metrics

guard.me leveraged MySQL Enterprise Masking and De-Identification to anonymize data at rest to ensure compliance with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

Converting production data into fictional data, guard.me can use production-like setups for development, testing, analytics, or sharing with third-party partners for non-production purposes.

guard.me leveraged MySQL Enterprise Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) which uses a two-tier encryption key architecture to protect data throughout its lifecycle. Confidential student data is secured end-to-end as MySQL TDE enables data at rest encryption in the database automatically and in real-time.

To further increase data security, guard.me tracks user activity logging with MySQL Enterprise Audit, implementing activity-based policies with encryption keys for each database tenant.

Using MySQL Thread Pool, part of MySQL Enterprise Scalability, guard.me runs its critical GMIS application with high availability and with an efficient thread-handling model designed to manage client connections and statement execution threads. As a result, guard.me can easily scale up its database to support the growing number of students using the CARES platform.

guard.me now leverages MySQL Enterprise Backup to run daily backups of its databases and ensure that the data is secured even in the case of a disaster. With MySQL InnoDB cluster, the company's GMIS application runs flawlessly in Canada, including when database backups are performed in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Why MySQL Enterprise Edition?

On its journey to gain the trust of educational institutions, guard.me researched multiple vendors, such as Microsoft SQL, Google Cloud SQL, and Amazon Aurora. The company selected MySQL Enterprise Edition as it provided a fully featured and cost-effective solution with multiple features to secure their database. As most educational institutions are using MySQL Community Edition as their preferred database, transitioning to MySQL Enterprise Edition was a natural step for guard.me.

"We chose MySQL Enterprise Edition over Microsoft SQL as it provided all the tools we needed to secure our database at low costs, compared to the astronomically expensive Microsoft," Tony Searle comments.

Implementation

Working with the MySQL team in Canada, guard.me did a proof of concept and built a test environment to check the impact that MySQL Enterprise Edition would have on its systems. Subsequently, guard.me enabled comprehensive encryption of all databases. The experts in the MySQL support team were available 24x7 to help.