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Network Access Control for University of Nottingham

Khipu : 11 November, 2008  (Application Story)
Network device traceability and policy management included in University's identity management and network access control solution provided by Khipu Networks
Networking and security integrator Khipu Networks has announced that The University of Nottingham, a leading UK university, is deploying network access control (NAC) across its entire campus and halls of residence networks to secure all connected devices. After its initial success on the university's halls of residence network, the NAC solution is now being extended to cover 50,000 wired ports across the whole network, making it one of the largest NAC roll-outs in Europe.

After evaluating the University's requirements and current infrastructure, Khipu proposed the NAC solution, which is based on the Bradford Networks 'Campus Manager' solution, to secure The University of Nottingham Student Network Service (SNS). Initially rolled out to 6,000, then 8,000 students in halls of residence, the solution provides network access control and identity management. This allows the University to control and manage student access to the network and enforce Acceptable Use Policies which include operating system, anti-virus, and anti-spyware version control on its own equipment and on student owned devices.

Campus Manager ensures that all students register their computers, which then allows the University to enforce automatic security checks. This, coupled with the ability to now authorise access to the network appropriately, means the University can quarantine any non-compliant devices and provide students with downloadable links to the required virus protection updates and security patches. Not only does this help secure the entire network and better protect student PCs, it also minimises the need for helpdesk intervention, which frees up IT staff time to focus on more strategic activities.

This has virtually eliminated the University's past problems with high numbers of infected or improperly secured devices connecting to the SNS every year at the start of term. Furthermore, when intrusions previously occurred on the network, IT staff had to physically check the ports to locate the problem, which could take up a considerable amount of time.

The detailed information provided by the NAC solution for the Campus Network gives the University's IT staff visibility of all devices on the network, ensuring unauthorised devices attempting to connect are rapidly identified and blocked. It also enables IT staff to monitor when a device was last connected to the network, providing an audit trail and making it far easier to locate devices. This also allows the University to better manage its IP addresses by keeping an up to date register of those in use on the system. IP addresses can now be tracked and easily reassigned. In the past, this had not been possible and consequently of the 40,000 devices registered, half were no longer connected to the University network.

"Before the NAC deployment, infected devices were not only seriously impairing the performance and availability of the network, they were also taking up a lot of time and resources to track and clean-up. We were so impressed with the success of Khipu's solution to protect our Residential Network, that it made perfect sense to deploy the technology across the whole campus," said Phil Harrison, network team leader. "This will massively increase the visibility of all devices across the entire network and will help us ensure that staff as well as student PCs, enjoy a secure and reliable connection."

Improved administration and traceability of network-connected devices has also helped to reduce calls for IT support. Fewer additional help line staff are needed at start of term, and more calls can now be resolved at the front line. "This solution has enabled the IT Help Line and IT Support staff to solve queries at a significantly faster rate by presenting them and the users with relevant and useful information gathered and displayed during the registration process," said Simon Miller, network management officer.

Khipu's support and efficiency in the deployment of the initial phase in 2005 - which was installed and ready to use in two weeks - along with its extensive experience in the education sector meant that the company was the natural choice for the network-wide rollout in summer 2008. The campus-wide solution is being deployed in a phased approach, rolling out to one department at a time. Khipu began the rollout in October, with completion due by the summer of 2009.

"Managing and securing the huge number of devices across such a large campus is a mammoth task, and with new devices being frequently added by staff and students annually - as well as conference delegates outside of university terms needing temporary access - the ability to have a real-time view of activity and an accurate register of users and their IP addresses is vital," says Matt Ashman, commercial consultant at Khipu Networks. "Already one of the top ten UK universities and a highly respected institution, the University of Nottingham is continuing to lead the way in network security, and we expect to see many other educational bodies follow suit."

The University of Nottingham has future plans to extend network access control to its extensive wireless LAN to further enhance network access to its entire student community to give users greater flexibility across the campus.
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