The university has teamed up with a provider of pervasive network security solutions.
Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has chosen CounterACT by ForeScout, a provider of pervasive network security solutions, to help monitor and mitigate security risks from devices connecting to its wireless network while maintaining end-user ease of use.
With more than 25,000 students and 2,500 staff spread across three campuses, NTU’s wireless network accommodates about 6,000 active wireless endpoints — and 10,000 "seen" endpoints — figures that grow continually as students bring more of their own devices (BYOD), including laptops, smartphones, tablets and gaming devices, onto the network.
In 2013, in response to student requests for a simpler solution, NTU reduced its multiple, fragmented networks to one integrated wireless network. They needed to ensure the security of this network, and having previously used a first-generation network access control (NAC) solution that was difficult to use and created a negative user experience, the network team knew it was time for change. NTU did, however, still need NAC functionality, so the network team examined ForeScout’s CounterACT platform as well as a number of other NAC solutions available at the time.
Mark Pearson, core networking team leader at NTU, said: "For today’s UK universities and colleges, the student is king. We, therefore, had to look at our wireless strategy from the perspective of ensuring that connecting to the network is as painless as possible, regardless of the device in use.
"The main selling point for ForeScout was that it is so much easier to use than our previous NAC solution and doesn’t require an agent to be deployed on each endpoint. Once we connected CounterACT to our network, it was up and running within 30 minutes. CounterACT is also non-intrusive to end users, which was critical, helping us to provide an inclusive and accessible network while optimising security."
After implementing CounterACT, calls to the IT helpdesk were reduced, which has contributed to cost-savings for NTU. The platform’s ease of management and automated mitigation capabilities has also saved the university time, money and resources.
The CounterACT dashboard makes it easy to monitor the entire wireless network from one screen, so the network team can see and monitor activity across all three campuses. Additionally, the system allows NTU to offer different levels of network access depending on whether the device is known or unknown.
Peter Batchelor, ForeScout’s regional manager for UK, Ireland and Africa, said: "NTU is one of a growing number of UK public sector organisations utilising the CounterACT platform to help monitor and mitigate security risks from a multitude of devices connecting to its network. CounterACT’s ease of management and low administration costs are imperative for customers to keep their IT security costs to a minimum while also ensuring the best possible experience for end users."