Glyndŵr University, an inspiring and enterprising University based in Wrexham, North Wales, recently selected ForeScout’s automated security control platform, CounterACT, to automate its wireless network and endpoint security. As a result, the University has been able to reduce network security threats and IT team workload.
Inspired by Welsh hero Owain Glyndŵr – a figurehead of Welsh nationalism – Glyndŵr University aims to be bold, inspiring and enterprising in everything it does. Glyndŵr’s courses are tailored to be relevant to industry and professional applications. It works closely with partners in business including Airbus, Rolls Royce and the BBC to ensure graduates get the skills they need to gain employment. The University also offers excellent conference facilities and works with businesses to provide staff training and development.
The need to control a wide variety of endpoints
Last year, when its wireless controllers were coming to the end of their life, Glyndŵr decided to look for a new network security product, one with wide-ranging functionality. Specific requirements included: the ability to manage and control the network serving its student accommodation blocks on the main campus (comprising a total of 800 beds); the ability to facilitate authentication, to check students were who they said they were when logging in to the network; plus capability to manage the wide variety of endpoints brought on to the network by students, including laptops (Windows and Apple operating systems); smartphones and Xbox game consoles. Keeping out malware and viruses was also a critical requirement.
Systems integrator, Synetix, recommended ForeScout CounterACT and conducted a Proof of Concept for the University, knowing it would resolve their specific network security issues. Glyndŵr also looked at Bradford Network’s Campus Manager, but on realising they would need to buy and install Cisco switches to deploy this NAC solution, decided it would be too expensive. In contrast, ForeScout CounterACT requires no costly infrastructure changes or equipment upgrades, which was a key influencing factor in the purchasing process.
Further, Glyndŵr was delighted by the strong customer support provided by both ForeScout and Synetix. Rob Stockton, Head of IT Services at Glyndŵr University, commented, “When we initially trialled CounterACT we experienced exceptional levels of support from ForeScout, including phone calls with their developers in Israel to promptly solve an issue with concurrent logons. Such dedication and customer service is unusual, and was a nice surprise for us.”
How ForeScout Helped
- Reduced workload for IT team: The deployment of CounterACT has dramatically cut the University IT team’s workload. They are saving one man day per week, which equates to annual cost savings of around £4,500. Rob Stockton said, “It just works so well and as promised. Since installing CounterACT, we can’t remember the last time we had to visit the student halls to fix an IT problem!”
- Less copyright infringement notices: The number of infringement notices received by Glyndŵr University has been significantly reduced, due to CounterACT’s ability to identify unwanted applications, send warning notices and limit peer-to-peer file-sharing applications, including film and music download sites.
- Enhanced resource utilisation: Since CounterACT can monitor all devices, applications and connections, the University is able to monitor and control access and use of network resources and can pre-empt inappropriate use and consumption. Rob Stockton added, “The level of integration and flexibility with policy settings allows for phenomenal control.”
- Reduced incident response expenditure: Rob Stockton commented, “We used to encounter a whole range of malware attacks, including the likes of Conficker, and when students’ devices didn’t work they blamed our network! Since using CounterACT, we’ve suffered no malware attacks at all.”
- Endpoint remediation: When a non-compliant endpoint is detected by CounterACT, it is stopped from accessing Glyndŵr’s network and is redirected to a virtual firewall. At this point, the IT helpdesk will contact the user and advise them what they need to do to make the endpoint compliant – e.g. anti-virus or patch update – after which they will be granted full network access.
The ForeScout Difference
Rob Stockton, Head of IT Services at Glyndŵr University, summarised the main benefits of ForeScout CounterACT, and what sets it apart from competitors in the NAC market, “The appliance has given us incredible levels of visibility and security information, in terms of seeing the type and number of devices on our network at any one time. The fact we can use CounterACT to identify certain hardware being used by students, such as Xbox’s, and to create specific policies and filters according to device type is also extremely useful. Now we have CounterACT, we would not want to be without it, as it provides a level of network protection we never thought possible.”
For further information about ForeScout please contact:
Sally Bratton, Bratton PR, +44 (0)1296 394000 or +44 (0)7930 301601 or email [email protected]