WatchGuard Receives High Marks from Chester School District
The Chester School District strives to promote a positive learning environment that fosters high academic standards for its students. Serving Morris County, New Jersey, the district’s top priority is to provide a world-class education through meaningful and dynamic learning experiences. With over 1,200 students and 400 staff members to consider, ensuring that confidential data remains that way is critical for Dean Anderson, technology director for Chester School District. Maintaining CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) compliant is also a must, along with visibility and control over web applications. Dean knew that they would need a solution with more robust UTM throughput than their previous DELL SonicWALL unit. Likewise, past appliances did not provide the application control necessary to block new outlets for malicious material and inappropriate content, and finding a more granular solution for that need was essential, as were better reporting capabilities to assist in monitoring the security of the network and its devices.
Though they looked at options from Fortinet, Palo Alto, Sonicwall, and Cisco, only Watch-Guard’s XTM 850 would address all of Chester School District’s areas of concern. Enabled with APT Blocker, Application Control, WebBlocker, spamBlocker, Gateway AntiVirus, Intrusion Prevention Service, Reputation Enabled Defense, and a Gold Support subscription, the XTM 850 provided a complete, scalable solution with web filtering, granular application control, and zero day threat protection. And deployment? In Dean’s words: “Flawless. There was virtually no downtime throughout the project.” He also noted that the Chester Schools were “…initially surprised at how seamless the installation of the solution was, aside from normal, minor transitional issues that you would expect when deploying something of this magnitude. For instance, sites that were previously allowed became blocked, forcing us to reevaluate whether or not they should remain blocked. This provided an opportunity to reevaluate our web-blocking policies.”
Additional benefits of the new system were soon apparent. Just weeks after deployment, administration had an issue with students attempting to access inappropriate websites. With the use of Active Directory authentication, the WatchGuard reporting tools made it easy to track down and pinpoint the specific students responsible, not just the IP addresses of the computers being used. The technology team was then able to forward this information to the appropriate school personnel, and action was taken accordingly.
Dean has found that another major advantage of the new system is an increase in overall network performance. “This network performance and guaranteed throughput is critical for ensuring success in day-to-day school operations and PARCC testing.” This, and the single pane of glass approach to reporting has proven invaluable. “The accessibility to advanced features and functionality now available to the tech team through Dimension has been helpful in enabling them to respond to security and policy issues immediately. Ease of access to information and the intuitive platform provided by WatchGuard has freed up valuable time that, in the past, was spent monitoring and maintaining the previous device. The WatchGuard solution enables more time to be spent where it matters—supporting the staff and students.”