Liverpool Charity puts its trust in WatchGuard to protect vital community services
Nugent Care is a charity, started by Father Nugent in 1881 with 300 employees and almost 100 volunteers, making it the largest education, health and social care charity in Liverpool, in the UK. The charity dates back to Victorian Liverpool and the pioneering work of Father James Nugent who was committed to child welfare, relief from poverty and social reform. Allied to the Archdiocese of Liverpool, Nugent Care has provided care and support for those in need for over one hundred and thirty years.
Today, Nugent offers a diverse range of support to children, young people, families, and adults who are vulnerable or at risk within the northwest of England, through its schools, care homes, community and social work services. Nugent's Community Services include support for deaf people, and those who are hard of hearing or have learning disabilities, while the charity also runs a registered and approved voluntary adoption agency.
Scott Davis heads up Nugent’s ICT Team, part of the Communications and Systems Department, responsible for the smooth and secure running of the charity and providing vital IT service support and remote assistance.
For some 10 years Nugent had relied on an MPLS solution with co-located firewalls in a data center in the northwest of England, to support around 20 different services. But in 2019, Nugent suffered a cyber attack that “wiped out” pretty much the entire infrastructure. It was every IT professional’s worst nightmare, but Scott and his colleagues worked long hours to restore the network and systems. It took several weeks to restore critical services after which prioritization was to audit current IS and look to build a five-year strategy with guidance from an external company that Nugent works with closely.
It was also the opportunity to make a step change. “We decided to put together five-year strategy to take back in-house control of our network and firewall infrastructure,” says Scott. “We wanted to move way from expensive leased lines by moving to cloud services and bringing back network IS in house, with segregation and full visibility of the data traffic and what is going on across our networks in real time – and importantly, secure our data from future cyber attacks.
Nugent also wanted to have multiple internet connections in order to segregate its voice and data services and be able to implement SD-WAN policies, for example.
For Scott and the Communications and Systems Team, the experience of the cyber-attack was a tipping point and provided the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.
With the communications and systems strategic plan in place and move to take back control in house, Scott started to research the market and reached out to a number of firewall vendors. He says that “WatchGuard was the most forthcoming and helpful with their time, guidance and demos,” which helped him in the decision-making progress. As Scott says, “it doesn’t matter how good the product is if it is not backed up by good support.”
After extensive review and due diligence, Scott and Nugent made the decision to go down the WatchGuard route and invested in a range of Firebox devices. It now has a range of WatchGuard T20s, T40s, T80s and M270s spread across Nugent community services, care homes and schools. All the Firebox devices are managed via WatchGuard Cloud, which provides the essential single pane of glass and visibility that Scott wanted and helps him to shape traffic and do quality service analysis and management. As Scott splits his time between working at home or visiting sites, having 24x7, anywhere access is a major bonus.
WatchGuard AuthPoint is currently being used to provide secure VPN authentication for the IT team, but the plan is to roll this out across other teams such as the finance department and possibly use AuthPoint for Office 365 log ins across the charity. With WatchGuard Security Suite, Scott is already benefiting from its core services along with features such as DNSWatch.
Migrating to a WatchGuard cloud-based solution has not only provided a robust security posture for Nugent but also gives Scott peace of mind. As he says, “I sleep better at night – there is nothing worse than not knowing what you are going to wake up to.”
Like any charity, Nugent holds a lot of sensitive information, so data protection and GDPR compliance are paramount. With separate firewalls, Scott can make sure all the services and traffic are segregated, while WatchGuard cloud provides a complete overview of what is going on across the networks.
And when it comes to support, Scott is full of praise for the WatchGuard team. He is keen to give a mention to UK senior sales engineer Martin Lethbridge who provided enthusiastic support and helped Nugent overcome various challenges along the way.
For now, Scott is consolidating his investment in WatchGuard and making sure he harnesses everything it has to offer. Moving forward, he is looking to replace his existing end point solution with WatchGuard Endpoint Security. “There is a major advantage in having an end point solution that will integrate seamlessly with our other WatchGuard products under the WatchGuard Cloud, rather than have a mix of products with different UIs.”
With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and global instability putting pressure on public services and placing more families and individuals at risk, the work of charities such as Nugent is even more critical. WatchGuard gives Nugent one less thing to worry about, making it easier to focus on delivering the support and services to the most vulnerable.