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Improved network visibility and security at Norwich School

ForeScout Technologies : 07 April, 2015  (Application Story)
ForeScout CounterACT is providing the independent Norwich School with network visibility, regulatory compliance and potential breach mitigation
Improved network visibility and security at Norwich School

An independent school in Norwich has chosen ForeScout CounterACT for improving device visibility across its network, mitigating potential breaches before they become problematic and ensuring industry regulation compliance. The co-educational day school is attended by over 1000 pupils aged between 7 and 18 and has a staff of 250. The school's IT staff required visibility and access control for all devices used across the network.

Originally, CounterACT was used only for visibility so that devices and users could be correctly classified but its use has since been extended to encompass network access control and threat prevention by disallowing non-corporate devices from accessing network resources.

The school has also created customised security policies which can be enforced via CounterACT. Commenting on the deployment, Norwich School's network manager, Steve Banyard told us, “CounterACT, in our opinion, had an easier to use interface which makes setting up, managing and viewing potential threats a far easier task. With a small team it was critical that NAC wouldn’t take up too much of our time, both in the set up phase and beyond. Another major appeal was that we wouldn’t have to modify our network to integrate the product. Also, there are multiple ways to enforce security policies depending on your environment and the client agent is optional.”

ForeScout's system was also able to counter the threat of network misuse. CounterACT looks for multiple P2P applications including BitTorrent, uTorrent and FrostWire, among many others running on network endpoints, and is capable of killing the processes and/or notifying the administrators.

In this respect, CounterACT can be integrated with other security products using ForeScout’s ControlFabric architecture. In this way, Norwich School is able to integrate CounterACT with other existing security applications, allowing them to obtain actionable intelligence that CounterACT can mitigate against.

We asked Steve Banyard how this can be used for blocking access to certain areas to the internet. He told us, "CounterACT is part of our layered security approach, we also run a Watchguard Unified Threat Management appliance with web blocking categories and application control to block access to anonymous proxies and undesirable websites. We also log all internet activity."

Since Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is becoming pervasive in most network environment, we asked Steve Banyard about the potential for BYOD in the school and whether this has been considered as part of the capabilities of CounterACT. He told us, "We are in the early stages of a BYOD scheme and do encourage staff and pupils to bring in their own devices. We currently have our network segregated so that personal devices only have internet access when connected to our wired and wireless networks. This gives users access to email, printing, the schools VLE and they can also access school data and applications by connecting to our Citrix VDI system. CounterACT allows us to control this access on a granular level, identify the owners of personal devices and also monitor for any malicious behaviour."

Commenting on the cost and time savings realised by the school since the deployment of the system, Steve concluded, “CounterACT has already saved us time, which equates to money, by allowing us to easily track down which devices are plugged in to what switch port, which really helps us when troubleshooting network-related issues. The visibility provided by the system maximises our network security and helps us mitigate potential security breaches.”

Read the complete Norwich School case study

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