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Smart Practices--Finding a Wireless System

Boise State University, located in Idaho’s capital, provides unique opportunities for students to live and learn in the center of government, business, arts, high technology, and health care. The university wanted to offer its students and faculty wireless Internet access throughout its 134-acre and 34 building campus. The challenge was finding a wireless system that would handle authentication seamlessly using the university’s existing Lightweight Directory

Access Protocol (LDAP) authentication system used for the wired network.
The university already had an authentication system for the wired network and the university didn’t want to duplicate efforts. Connecting into the existing LDAP authentication system was one of the main criteria as the university evaluated several systems.

The new security system also had to handle Boise State’s high traffic demands and would need to scale easily to manage the load. The biggest challenge was in the dorms—students introducing overloads or viruses into the network. The university needed to implement the new system in the dorms to make sure the users were authenticated.

Once Perfigo’s SecureSmart system was in place for evaluation, it was able to check all traffic at the edge, reducing the load on the authentication server. The university believes that open box software is optimal. The university could crack open [or hack into] the [other vendor’s] box but the new system could not be compromised.

The system protects Boise State’s data and prevents unauthorized access by requiring wireless and wired network users to enter a valid user identification and password. The server authenticates against the university’s LDAP database, and allows or denies access accordingly. After verification, users are able to fully utilize the local network and Boise State’s Internet connection. It provides a centralized, single point of management for the university’s wired and wireless networks and SecureSmart deployment.

Solid Security for High-Traffic Network
Wireless access is available in every building on every floor (the university has more than 50 Cisco access points), except in dormitories, where high-speed network connections exist. Public access computers are also available across campus at student unions and in the dorms. SecureSmart is able to handle wireless, which they expected, but also the wired traffic, which is significantly heavier. Even streaming media passes through without causing a bottleneck.

Viruses and worms add significant costs to budgets in terms of resources, time, and revenue lost, in the case of a network being brought down. Furthermore, wireless devices are a bigger threat than wired devices because viruses can be obtained anywhere and brought back to the network to infect other devices.

Boise State is in the process of implementing Perfigo’s CleanMachines and virus and worm prevention system, which prevents the spread of viruses from mobile devices that log onto its network until they are verified as virus-free. The system stops any potential for damage at the user edge by determining which users are at risk, preventing full network access, delivering updates to them, and enabling users to fix their own devices rather than assigning costly resources to do it. Once the user has applied the up-to-date virus protection and other necessary patches, they are allowed onto the network.

The biggest advantage the university gains with the new system is that it d'esn’t require daily maintenance and management—because it’s external. The box is rarely under load or having any problems.

Before finding Perfigo, the university did not authenticate dorms because it was such a cumbersome task. The university couldn’t authenticate those users, they would spend numerous hours a day tracking machines with viruses or trying to catch abusers. The university knows how to reach any machine, when they get an e-mail from another university informing them that a Boise State student has a virus or is trying to hack into their network and they can go directly to that person based on information they already have. It saves time and headaches.

Boise State University responded to the demand for wireless access by its students and keeps up with increasingly technological needs. True scalability is the key to quickly and easily expanding and supporting more applications, as well as users, without necessarily adding more equipment.

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