Antivirus and Internet Security Software

IT security specialists BitDefender provide the tools to help Liverpool college defeat computer virus threat.

The potential disruption to any organisation from IT security threats is profound, but factor in the responsibility of being a public sector organisation and the fallout from such a problem becomes more complex. For example, recent research has found that the Conficker virus has infected millions of machines across the UK, with large public sector networks particularly prone to infiltration. In February 2010, Greater Manchester Police were unable to access the Police National Computer for three days due to Conficker. Once a machine is infected, the virus also has the ability to crack passwords, leaving users open to identity fraud and other third-party threats.

Clearly, putting into place an efficient, effective IT security program is one of the primary lines of defence in keeping out such threats, and this is a challenge that BitDefender helped Knowsley College in Liverpool to meet after they had been suffering at the hands of Conficker.

The college is one of the largest providers of further education in the country. More than 8000 school leavers and adults study there each year across two main sites, two high street learning shops and numerous community outreach centres. The college IT network is disparate, comprising approximately 2,000 PCs across two main sites from new student suites to older laptops and desktops.

Network Manager Steve Morgan is responsible for ensuring it stays secure and available for staff, students and other service users. Although the college had an existing three year contract with an IT security provider, there were lingering issues. “Lots of machines were picking up viruses, Conficker in particular, causing us lots of problems.”

With its high street drop-in centres and an emphasis on enrolling users in the community, Knowsley College encourages those with limited or no IT experience to become computer savvy. “It’s all about promoting our services to mature students and stay-at-home parents.” This, however, means the system has to be very user-friendly and problem-free without being overly restrictive.

One reason for this is extensive student and tutor use of USB memory sticks, opening the system up to constant sources of contamination and heightening the need for an IT security suite that offered effective device control. “The problem is we cannot stop students from storing their work on memory sticks,” says Steve. “Practically it’s the best format for them to store their work. They’re a necessary evil I’m afraid.” The virus was causing many machines to freeze up, resulting in a situation that Steve admits was “just chaos, basically.”

The solution

The college faced a dilemma as it entered the 2009/10 academic year. Though tied into the last year of their existing contract, Steve was keen to find a new provider. “We needed someone who could give us a better product, but was also prepared to give us a good deal and enable us to balance the books,” says Steve.

The decision was made to terminate the existing contract and plumb for BitDefender.

Considering the size of the network, the installation went very smoothly, and Steve is very happy with the support his team received from BitDefender. “Every time we have been in touch we got a response very quickly,” he adds.

New features have solved old problems – a protocol has been installed to scan all removable storage media immediately, dealing with the memory stick issue. Since switching to BitDefender the problems with Conficker have been mostly eliminated, with machines detecting and dealing any presence of the virus before it can infiltrate and contaminate the system.

Managing USN memory sticks and other mass storage devices.

“Looking at the ways that malicious programs like Conficker propagate then device control has certainly become more important to government and public sector organisations, says Nick Billington, managing director BitDefender UK.

“One response has been to disable removable devices entirely. Here at BitDefender we were amongst the first to implement automatic scanning of devices connected to clients using our solutions. This allowed the IT administrator to disable Autorun features to ensure that they remained secure.

“Ideally, one should see device control not as a solution, but more as a tool within a toolbox. The purpose is to secure data and systems, while device control should complement the other tools in the box. What we do helps to prevent propagation of malicious software but we are one line in what should be a multi-layer defence – starting with consistent end user awareness.”

To find out how BitDefender’s security solutions can help your organisation, please contact us at www.bitdefender.co.uk or on 08451 305 096