Protecting School and University Networks

13/09/2017 21:24

Simple ways to protect school and university networks

The education sector is one of the most targeted sectors for cyber attackers. With universities being a particular target, over a third of institutions in the UK are hit by a successful cyber-attack every hour.

With the number of attacks rising year on year, the industry seems to be having difficulty in its ability to cope. In a survey of IT leaders in 50 universities across the UK, it was found that 87% had experienced at least one successful cyber-attack.

In addition to the rising number of attacks, IT workers in the sector also are having to deal with an increasing number of devices working on the institutions network. The age of some if these IT networks mean that they were developed and implemented years before the sharp increase in personal devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Many IT networks in the UK’s educational sector still run on legacy systems and not equipped to deal with the rising sophistication of attacks coupled with the rising number of devices. In a survey, 64% of IT leaders admitted they did not believe the institutions IT infrastructure would stand up against a cyber-attack.

The are key components IT leaders, directors and administrators in educational institutes can adopt to make their network stand up against next-generation threats.

Content Filtering

Having a content filtering service enables schools and universities to create and enforce internet use policies. These policies can block devices from accessing inappropriate and unproductive websites over LAN, wireless LAN (WLAN) and VPN.

The use of these filtering services not only prevents pupils and students from accessing inappropriate websites, it also stops visits to dangerous websites that are known to be harmful.


To gain advanced protection against encrypted threats, a DPI-SSL service is essential. DPI-SSL has the ability to inspect encrypted HTTPS traffic and other SSL-based traffic which normal devices are unable to read. With over 65% of UK universities lacking IT infrastructure to protect against advanced threats, its unlikely most have the capability to read this encrypted traffic.

With this technology, encrypted network traffic will be scanned and decrypted. Once scanned for threats, the traffic is then re-encrypted and sent on to its destination providing nothing dangerous has been found.

DPI-SSL in 2017 is now a basic requirement and all systems wanting any sort of security should have it. It requires minimal configuration and is easily customisable.

Gateway Security Services

Gateway Security Services builds on content filtering to add additional assistance that integrates to become one of the safest and protective services on the market.

An advanced multi-engine sandbox is deployed along with gateway anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware. Additionally, the service integrates intrusion prevention and application intelligence and control.

SonicWall offers this service which promises to protect against zero-day threats which are a huge problem in current educational network attacks.

Capture ATP

One of the most cutting edge services of gateway security is Capture ATP from SonicWall which is a three-engine sandbox. The virtualised machine provides full system emulation, hypervisor-level analysis technology, executes suspicious code and analyses behaviour.

School and university networks require these four key components to protect the network, devices and young people using it. Content filtering protects pupils and students from accessing harmful websites and DPI-SSL enables the scanning of encrypted threats that are trying to get through even safe websites. Together with Gateway Security and a multi-layered sandbox, these key components work together to achieve an integrated network security strategy that protects from advanced threats.

With the strain IT leaders in education are under, with the increasing threat landscape and dated technology, it makes sense to buy into a product that can achieve all four components in one box.

SonicWall has launched the Advanced Gateway Security Service. This next-level protection now encompasses all content filtering, Capture ATP, gateway security and DPI-SSL inspection. The easy to deploy programme can be loaded onto the user’s choice of firewall. This means no matter your institutions size, whether it be a small 30 user network, up to university campuses with thousands of pupils, there will be a range to choose from.

For assistance added AGSS onto your current SonicWall, or for advise on which firewall is best for your institution, call Just Firewalls on 0808 164 4414.

Posted in News By Just Firewalls