CI-Net has announced that Worthing Borough Council, in West Sussex, will be overhauling its connectivity and firewall infrastructure to improve business continuity and security related to delivering council services via the web.
The council has signed a three year contract with CI-Net, who will install and manage the network. According to the company, the new network will include dual load-balanced clustered internet connections that automatically failover in the event of disaster and a centralised jointly-managed firewall with round-the-clock intrusion monitoring.
Worthing’s previous infrastructure has a very complex network that had grown organically. Mark Gawley, ICT services manager at the council, said: “We had around ten separate internet links and a variety of firewalls and web servers relating to different council business units. We needed to simplify and centralise things in order to manage security more effectively and benefit from economies of scale.”
CI-Net will provide the council with reports on network traffic and will keep a 24 hour watch on the system to monitor any suspicious activity, such as firewall rules being broken or attempted network infiltration through web servers or services.
Gawley said: “A jointly managed service with experts tracking our borders 24-7 is vital. We know we can pick up the phone to a CI-Net specialist if we need someone to change firewall rules or the VPN’s remote access policies at short notice. This might be because it’s outside normal hours in an emergency or simply because we don’t have the manpower or specialist expertise to do something.”
The company says that the service is built around a StoneGate firewall, configured to load balance and failover between an existing primary 10 MB/s Ethernet line and 2 MB/s connection being implemented in the next few months.
“Two separate connections from different service providers means public services and staff productivity won’t be affected if one of them is hit by a problem. And the firewall lets us control Quality of Service for specific traffic types, so we could decide to give a bigger priority to email or web traffic for example,” said Gawley.
Employees that wish to work remotely will now be able to do so thanks to a new Virtual Private Network (VPN). The network is available to around 70 workers, including 37 local councillors. Users are provided with VASCO two-factor authentication tokens to enable them to securely log onto the network.
“In the last few years we’ve seen a sharp rise in the number of council services delivered via the web – from council tax and housing benefit to a variety of leisure offerings. And many of our staff are heavily reliant on Internet and email. So it’s essential to have a resilient and secure environment to keep public services online and employees productive. Because we’re handling people’s personal and financial information, security is paramount,” said Gawley.