Brompton has a long track record of helping the more freewheeling commuter get around. Since 1975 the London-based company has been “the” name of folding bikes, providing the time-pushed with a convenient mode of transport that can be packed away after use.
Brompton has many fans around the globe and there is even a world championship where competitors must wear a suit jacket, collared shirt and necktie, while sports attire is not permitted. This popularity has made Brompton the UK’s largest bike manufacturer, producing some 45,000 per year from its Kew Bridge headquarters.
Yet being in the spotlight means Brompton is more likely to attract the attention of those wanting to put a spanner in the works. To this end Brompton’s IT team ran a number of security tests across its internal and external network to find it was severely lacking. These tests were conducted by an “ethical hacker,” who was able to easily infiltrate Brompton’s infrastructure.
“It was quite shocking to see how vulnerable our system was,” says Jamie Stables, Desktop Support Analyst at Brompton. “For instance he was able to steal information using spoof emails and even used a public Wi-Fi hotspot in our shop to get through to our private network.”
To ensure its network is protected from all security threats, Brompton uses a WatchGuard Firebox M500 accompanied by M200s and a small fleet of AP200 access points. These advanced threat management appliances combine a firewall/VPN with powerful security services and a suite of flexible management tools.
The fast 8 Gbps throughput and application control provided by the Firebox M500 has helped ramp up the performance of accounts across Brompton’s network.
“We’ve got a 30Mb leased line, but some people were hogging the bandwidth, which was causing us problems,” explains Stables. “There would be times for instance when someone decided they would watch an HD video on YouTube, which would dramatically slow down everyone else on the network. I would get phone calls asking if the network was down, but it wasn’t. Now I can check out who is using up the bandwidth and if necessary prevent them from using a particular site or limit their consumption, which has improved the usability for all no end.”
The Firebox M500 also enables the IT team to save time through better integration with the VPN and an easy-to-use user interface. Stables explains, “Our previous server would take up to half an hour to take on the DNS settings. Instead of using simple file names, we would have to use the IP address, which was always a hassle as people would type in the wrong numbers or in the wrong order. I would have to set up a redirect on every VPN laptop to account for that, which took up a lot of my time. The WatchGuard solution has resolved that for us, as users can access the file servers and get what they want when they want.”
Brompton is now looking to expand and reorganise its operations to help cope with demand and become even more competitive as a business. The first phase is to link all sites – Kew Bridge (head office), Unit 9 (dispatch) and Brompton Junction (flagship store) under an MPLS secured by WatchGuard prod- ucts. Phase two will see Brompton’s expansion to a new location in Greenford. All three sites will then be amalgamated into Greenford, which will effectively double Brompton’s factory capacity.
Secure Wi-Fi access at the new factory will be provided by a number of WatchGuard Access Points. ”We know we will have to expand our fleet of eight AP200s, we have to wait until all the manufacturing equipment is in place and we can see where signal coverage will need additional WatchGuard support.” adds Stables.
Summing up Brompton’s experience of WatchGuard and the reasoning behind wanting to use its products for future expansion, Stables says, “WatchGuard is nice and easy to use and has solved all our problems. Our security has increased dramatically and has made my life a lot simpler. I couldn’t ask for better.”
To ensure the IT network is continually secure through its required reconfigurations, Brompton is looking to temporarily use a Firebox M200 at the two new sites, before switching everything back to the relocated Firebox M500. “For the expansion we are going to be using an MPLS in combination with the WatchGuard equipment, so that all we will need to do is flick a switch and the changeover will be seamless.”
Jamie Stables, Desktop Support Analyst,