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Ballarat Grammar on top of web threats with new system

  • 19 April 2013
  • Written by 
  • Published in Security

HP announced this week that Ballarat Grammar has been the first school to take up its Sentinel security SDN application, and staff couldn't be happier.

Ballarat Grammar’s network supports 1,400 students and 200 faculty members, each with school-issued laptops or unmanaged, bring your own devices (BYOD), such as smartphones and tablets.

Key security issues like botnets, spyware and malware created significant vulnerability to the school and impacted student productivity.

“Our students have full access to their school-provisioned laptops that they also take home, and boarding students bring their own devices onto campus, too, which seriously hinders comprehensive management and effective implementation of security protocols,” Gregory Bell, head of Technical Services at Victoria's Ballarat Grammar, told iTWire.

"We deployed Sentinel during the school holidays, and didn't see too much traffic being blocked except what we were trying out, but when the kids came back and got back into the boarding house, we noticed thousands of DNS requests being blocked straight away, Bell said.

"There was one kid in particular, and his machine was responsible for hundreds of these DNS blocks over a very short period, and he got our attention and we were able to use Sentinel to see which infections were being blocked and which websites his computer was trying to access.

"We could then trace that machine really easily back to the user and it gave us the power to be more pro-active. We could give that kid a tap on the shoulder, because he didn't have any idea what was happening."

Deployed on HP 3800 Switch Series systems throughout its five boarding houses and 95 classrooms, HP Sentinel Security enables Ballarat Grammar to automatically locate and flag infected devices while connected to the campus wireless or wired networks.

Prior to using HP Sentinel Security, the school would spend days manually identifying network infections and their origination point when students returned from summer break, which created additional work during an already hectic time.

Access to social media and user-generated content was distracting students during class, frustrating teachers while also limiting learning opportunities.

"We have a bit of an issue with our students constantly being on Facebook during class instead of paying attention," Bell said.

"The teachers made a decision that they wanted to restrict Facebook access during classroom, and we could quite easily create a rule within Sentinel to block Facebook's public IP addresses during certain hours. It was a really reliable way of doing it, and was something we hadn't been able to do before."

HP Sentinel Security, running on the HP Virtual Application Networks SDN controller, enables automated, real-time security across the network switches, routers and access points, while reducing the need for IT to deploy and manage multiple devices.

"Everything's gone extremely smoothly," Bell said.

"The new system has pointed out a few gaps we had with our antivirus, and our firewall, and we've now got all this power that we didn't previously have. It's been great."

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