Managed security protects school from spam, viruses

Thursday, 02 April, 2009

In an effort to curtail a growing stream of spam, Brisbane Grammar has outsourced its email and web security.

The education sector in general is increasing its use of the internet for both teaching and reporting, but hackers and spammers specifically target the education sector. Threats like viruses, spam and online bullying waste the time of staff and students, as well as slow down IT infrastructure such as the network.

After an unsatisfactory experience with messaging security software, Brisbane Grammar decided to outsource its email and web security.

“We were receiving 30,000 spam emails every day,” says Jeremy Connell, ICT and information systems manager at the school. “While the software we were using filtered much of it at the server, it was wasting valuable bandwidth and slowing everything down.”

The messaging security software also had a high false positive rate and a residual spam rate. This introduced administrative costs and placed sensitive customer communications — such as emails from parents, interview requests and fundraising matters — at risk of being erroneously deleted.

Complicating the problem was the issue of student turnover, which made scalability a primary concern in choosing a new solution.

“Every year we have 250 senior students leave, and with the software solution their old deleted email addresses were still receiving junk mail,” Connell says.

According to Connell, the new outsourced system removes more than 95% of all spam before it reaches the school.

“This has delivered immediate savings by slashing the volume of data downloaded, reducing the load on our bandwidth and other in-house resources. As a result, our network performance has improved.”

Student turnover no longer presents a problem, Connell says, saying the system “ensures that we only receive legitimate, clean emails sent to current users”.

The service is also easier to manage than discrete security elements, reducing server licences and providing guaranteed service with service level agreements.

“[Under the previous system] thousands of viruses were filtered on site, but now these do not even reach our firewall,” Connell says. “We now have multi-layered protection at the internet level that goes far beyond stripping out suspect attachments, and our connectivity is secure.

“Detailed service level agreements guarantee extremely high levels of protection. Combined with MessageLabs’ very helpful and high-quality service delivery, they gave us the certainty we needed.”

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