Helping Cardiff Met protect 14,000 users from Cyber Threats

Established in 1865, Cardiff Metropolitan University’s education, research, and innovation programmes attract people from around the globe. They bring together students, governments, and industry to create tangible benefits for individuals, society and the economy.

The Challenge

The relentless growth of virtual learning and the digital economy drives universities to continually review the security of their data, systems, and connectivity.

Cardiff Metropolitan University were planning to implement a sustainable and future proofed security solution to support around 14,000 stakeholders, “We have around 6,000 unique wireless network connections and 4,000 physical network connections every day” says Jamie Hancock, IT Networks Team Manager. “Each student has around 4 devices and they expect connectivity without an issue. We also have hundreds of thousands of probes and attempted hacks to manage each day.”

Cardiff Met’s security solution was becoming end-of-life. And with datacentres on two interconnected sites and dynamic breakout points at each, they needed a highly reliable, resilient security solution and very responsive on-going support.

A key requirement of the new solution would be a seamless interface with ‘Janet’ and ‘Jisc’, the highspeed network, digital resources and technology
provider for the UK research and education community.

A key requirement was Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) integration with the two diverse internet connections from Janet. Advatek’s solution provides policy-based routing with upstream and downstream resilience that mitigates against any failure of internet connectivity or equipment, at any site.

Following a formal public tender, the University awarded the contract to Advatek. Says Jamie Hancock; “They stood head and shoulders above the others. Their deep knowledge gave us confidence in their ability to deliver.”

The Solution

Fortinet is a Gartner Magic Quadrant security leader, and their FortiGate Next Generation Firewalls provide leading security options with high levels of performance and dynamic threat intelligence. Users benefit from intuitive and automated visibility of the network, applications, and user activity – all with reduced complexity.

The core components and benefits of the solution are:

Application Control: Monitoring internet usage based on an application rule set that allows or restricts activity. Policing of the network including traffic throttling to preserve bandwidth.

Gateway Anti-Malware: Real-time scanning of all network traffic for malicious payloads. Robust core protection against known and unknown threats with no impact on network performance.

Web Filtering: Acceptable usage policies – blocking access to malicious, hacked, or inappropriate websites.

Intrusion Prevention: Protecting the server estate from outside attacks by monitoring all server traffic with the ability to take automated action in real-time.

Remote Access: Authentication of users coming onto the network remotely, including verification that a remote user’s antivirus software is installed and current.

Reporting Tools: Centralised management of network activity including student safeguarding in line with the Government ‘Prevent’ strategy in response to terrorist and extremist activity.

The Outcome

The Advatek team meticulously planned and flawlessly implemented the project over a full week-end, and the security support for the university is on-going.

“I’m continually impressed by their professionalism continues Jamie Hancock, “in over 20 years working in IT, they are the only company I know who always respond to me in minutes; support like that is invaluable.”

Following the project, Advatek are a highly regarded partner of the university, and they now advise and offer ‘guest lectures’ to students on IT security.

“Their security expertise and best practise continues to help us in our mission to provide a secure environment for our students to flourish” says Mark
John, Infrastructure Services Manager, “a great student experience is absolutely imperative in our competitive world, and it’s all underpinned by a secure IT environment.”

The Future

A third campus site is at the design stage as the university makes plans for future expansion. Discussions with Advatek are underway to integrate the new site into the existing infrastructure along with additional IT services and security opportunities