"Our needs were to ward off viruses, which we seem to get over and over again," says Beane. "We had some problems with people coming in and using our file servers for their own purposes and I wanted a way to analyze my networks to see what was being attempted from the outside."
When he began looking about a year ago, Beane quickly discovered he would have to deploy separate products in order to get such features as virus scanning, a firewall, intrusion detection and content filtering. But the piecemeal approach was not an option, he says, because with no IT staff, the installation and management would have been too burdensome.
Working with a vendor, he discovered SGS last fall. After viewing a demo of the product, "I found it would meet everything I wanted," he says.
Symantec Gateway Server was installed in each of the eight schools and administration building within a couple of months. On of the best features for Beane is that he can create a software image on one box and save it on a computer so that when he sets up other devices, "I just load that image to those boxes and then just change the IP addresses for the network interfaces. Then that device is ready to go" in as little as 20 minutes.
"The major benefit I get from this is, most notably, when the latest round of viruses comes out my phone doesn't ring off the hook, and that means a lot," he says. The majority of viruses they would get hit with came in through email attachments, but now, "these boxes secure the perimeter of our network and every piece of data is now being scanned and keeping these things from ever reaching the end user."
The other big plus for Beane is that the product can be managed thru a web browser so he can sit in his office and connect to any one of the devices and see down to the individual user how much data is coming in to a machine. Beane can also spot hackers attempting to get into the network and what methods they are using.
Issues like gaining remote access through open ports on the network have not been successful since the installation of the gateway servers, he says.
"It really gives me a better idea of what's going on on my network. Before, I didn't have that detail ... that means a lot as a manager."
But technology can only protect so much. Beane says a major goal this year is educating end users on how to keep themselves secure.
"We've made the purchase of these devices and as far as the network is concerned, we have about all we need to do. We just need to make end users little more saavy."