Unified security in central Melbourne

SYDNEY – The City of Boroondara has ditched a “cumbersome” IT security system and standardized on unified threat management (UTM) across its local and distributed sites.

The council employs about 1,000 staff and administers 700 desktops across sites including two main offices, a golf course and child care and maturity facilities. It services more than 155,000 people and 13,000 businesses around inner Melbourne.

City of Boroondara technical services team leader Michael Hughes said the previous F5 Networks FirePass solution could not adequately manage or secure its 30 to 40 work-from-home users.

“FirePass was cumbersome and complicated and it was hard to manage.” But it still hasn’t relinquished ties altogether.

“Some users that only access the [virtual private network] once a month are still on it as it wouldn’t justify the expense of putting the UTM devices for them,” Hughes said.

“We have such a diverse range of users and there is always the threat of them bringing in viruses or opening e-mail viruses. “IT found it very hard to get in and troubleshoot user machines even remotely. Users could go straight out into the Internet and we found it very hard to lock their machines down.”

Recently the council deployed 30 small UTM Fortinet boxes across its remote sites to place users behind the corporate firewall and introduce content filtering and antivirus, and a FortiGate-300A UTM box was deployed in the main data center.

Traffic is now forced back through the network and is controlled through the proxy server. Rules and policies can now be applied and antivirus is centrally monitored.

The council will deploy the smaller boxes out to remaining sites and select remote users, including the councillors’ offices which will become wireless-enabled during the upcoming November elections.

Hughes admits UTM carries the element of risk of putting all eggs in one basket, but said the benefits in management and integrated security outweigh the risk.

The council has an ADSL 1500 external link through carrier Telstra, and operates 10Gbit links between sites, with 1Gbit to the edge and 100Mbit to the desktop.

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