Today’s Lesson – Prevent Malware from Hiding on My Network with a Managed Firewall

“The foundation of any Enterprise is a stable, secure infrastructure, capable of handling the daily tasks required of it,” from the Middletown Public Schools IT department mission statement.

The Middletown Public School district operates an enterprise network connecting fourteen (14) buildings with a high-speed (1 Gbps) fiber optic network.  Over 6,000 users access educational, business office applications and the internet from a variety of endpoint devices including many wireless users.  With such a diverse and growing user community, the District Director of Technology Services, Michael Skott, was concerned about network security and the threats posed by ransomware attacks, phishing emails and other data breaches.

An end of year ransomware attack, which disabled access to critical business systems and applications, underscored the need to upgrade both perimeter and endpoint security.  Francis Palacio, CEO of Digital BackOffice recommended the installation of Palo Alto Networks TRAPS on the most vulnerable endpoints on the MPS network.  Palo Alto Networks Traps™ endpoint protection stopped threats on the school district endpoint devices and allowed the district to recover access to the network and to the internet. 

Further investigation into the cyberattack suggested that the legacy perimeter firewall was also vulnerable to the hacking techniques used by cyber criminals and bad actors. After evaluating network traffic and future requirements the district selected a Palo Alto Network Next Gen firewall capable of sharing valuable intelligence with the endpoint devices running TRAPS.  “Using machine learning and AI techniques from data collected on endpoints and firewalls around the world, Palo Alto shares valuable intelligence across the enterprise network”, said Mr. Skott.  DBO network ops center personnel pre-configured the firewall off-site and scheduled installation after hours to minimize network downtime.  “DBO provides us with a single point of contact for all network problems, changes and trouble-shooting”, said Mr. Skott.  “The school district network is dynamic with new devices and applications added with increasing frequency.  We have experienced how each new device or application can expose others to cyberattacks and ransomware. The powerful detection and response capabilities inherent in the Palo Alto platform prevent attacks from compromising the network or worse.”

“We believe that Palo Alto Networks in partnership with Digital BackOffice provides the Middletown school district with the capability to prevent security breaches and manage our network with achievable service level goals”, added Mr. Skott.  “With the upgrade of our wide area network to 10 Gbps, this summer, the district will have the stable, infrastructure on which to deliver the latest technology resources we have available.”

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