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Web 2.0 protection for Wellington College

Synetix : 22 April, 2009  (Application Story)
College gains improved visibility across the network to protect students from on-line security risks
Synetix Solutions has announced Wellington College as a new customer for Palo Alto Networks, an innovative next-generation firewall manufacturer. Palo Alto Networks is helping the College improve network availability and security by limiting unauthorized use of so called Web 2.0 and social networking applications that are impossible to detect using traditional firewalls.

Wellington College, one of the great British public schools, is an independent co-educational boarding and day school for 13 to 18 year olds. Under a new five-year development plan, Wellington has made significant investments in IT hardware, software and networking facilities to support the school's extensive network infrastructure which links almost every building, including all Houses and staff houses, and over 1,000 PCs and laptops owned either by the school or by pupils.

"We looked for a solution which would prevent students using anonymous proxies such as Tor to by-pass our security systems," explains Tony Whelton, Director of IT development and services for Wellington College. "After investigating several technologies, the Palo Alto Networks firewall provided a much better fit for the needs of the college by combining application visibility and control with intrusion prevention in one solution."

Since installation of the Palo Alto Networks firewall, Whelton stated. "Synetix delivered a smooth implementation and we are already able to quickly block unauthorized traffic across our network without any additional management overhead or performance limitations - it is a very simple solution to a long standing and growing problem."

Palo Alto Networks enables visibility and policy control of more than 800 applications running on enterprise networks by accurately identifying applications - regardless of port, protocol, evasive tactic or even SSL encryption - at 10Gbps with no performance degradation. The firewall can then block or curtail the ability of applications including peer-to-peer, social networks or even malicious software communication over the network.

"Many of the clients we are talking to believe that their current firewalls are adequate to protect and monitor their users," comments Rick Gray, Managing Director at Synetix Solutions. "Unfortunately there are a growing number of websites and applications that are designed to bypass and evade traditional firewalls and website filters to allow users to view illicit material or bring dangerous content into the network."

Gray believes that many organisations are getting frustrated with the inability of their current firewalls to block the growing tide of web-based application traffic with dated port or IP header techniques, and added, "As the line between authorised traffic and unauthorised traffic starts to blur, this problem is only getting worse. We have certain customers who are currently using Palo Alto Networks that routinely use Peer-to-Peer as a key part of their processes, and the ability to quickly segregate the useful from the resource-draining traffic down to the individual user or group is a facility they desperately need - especially as the growth in peering, social and collaborative networks shows now sign of slowing down."

Synetix are one of only a handful of Palo Alto Networks partners in the UK and Gray believes that by dedicating resources to this area early in its adoption cycle, Synetix look poised to become a successful UK partner for Palo Alto Networks. "We have invested heavily in training and accreditation and our business is geared up to meet the challenges of Virtualisation and next generation security threats - and Palo Alto Networks is ideally positioned to help us meet these aims," he added.

Karl Driesen, VP EMEA at Palo Alto Networks commented, "Wellington is typical of a growing number of institutions and enterprise customers that realise the new generation of users are utilising a new generation of applications and tools. However, current defences are either redundant or cumbersome. Palo Alto Networks has anticipated this with a range of next-generation firewalls that use application visibility, user identity and content control in one, high performing platform to provide customers with the right balance of Internet user freedom and corporate control - in effect - loosening control without losing control!"
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