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Becoming PSN compliant with Network Access Control

27 August, 2014
How Gloucestershire became Public Services Network compliant with the help of robust network access control using ForeScout's CounterACT

UK local authorities are finding it increasingly difficult with constrained budgets to be compliant to the security requirements of the Public Services Network (PSN), the IT network infrastructure employed in the UK for public service organizations.

In order to become compliant with the deadline set by central Government, Gloucestershire County Council employed the services of Capita, whose enterprise architect, Mark Blake, spoke about the deployment at this year's InfoSecurity Europe event in London.

External audits at Gloucestershire CC had identified a number of weaknesses with legacy applications which needed to be solved before the organization could be provided access to the PSN. In choosing CounterACT as the means of securing the network, Capita was interested in solving the compliance issue, speed of deployment and long term support objectives.

Once ForeScout's network security product had been installed, Gloucestershire County Council and Capita were able to gain instant, real world network visibility, showing all aspects of the network and all devices that are attached to it. It also provided insight into operating systems interacting with the network environment which in some cases hadn't earlier been understood to exist. Examples include 3rd party applications that had been allowed access to the network and represented a vulnerability.

Having a Network Access Control appliance on the network allowed the Council to form policies and then enforce compliance to that policy thereby gaining control over their network, who has access to it and what can connect to it.

Commenting on the results of deploying CounterACT at Gloucestershire CC, Capita's Mark Blake said that two of the main reasons for choosing the ForeScout product were speed of implementation and flexibility in terms of the ease and ability to form custom policies and workflows. The Next Generation Network security product provides astonishing ease of implementation and can be up and running within a matter of hours. Mark went on to explain that with a thorough knowledge of the network environment that's being protected and a detailed understanding of what needs to be achieved, deploying the NAC provides the scope and ease of setup needed to obtain the desired results very quickly.

Using CounterACT has also yielded significant secondary benefits including the ability to gain network usage insights that help in planning future network architecture requirements as well as identifying issues with client applications that may not be operating as expected.

More information about the use of ForeScout's Next-Generation NAC product, CounterACT in PSN environments including downloadable resources and a video of Mark Blake's interview at InfoSecurityEurope, visit the ForeScout UK PSN page

Jonathan Newell is a broadcast and technical journalist specialising in security systems and transport safety. He contributes to a range of titles in the technical press. He shares his time between the UK and Kazakhstan


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