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Overcoming the growing need for technology in schools

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I was fascinated at the idea we might be able to overcome the fact we have a growing need to provide access to our students. Because of the kind of curriculum deliver we are faced with and that’s only going to become more important. Without having to expend massive amounts of money that we don’t have, to provide these technologies for the students.

The secret is that all these kids have parents/grandparents/guardians that give those kindles, iPads, laptops for birthdays, Christmas etc. Furthermore these kids are often better then us at using these technologies. So why wouldn’t we want to find a way to let the students bring these technologies on campus.

The problem is we have a number of things we have to deal with that are different than businesses like Starbucks. Among them are the CIPA/FIRPA regulations and the risk of allowing viruses into the network. BorderLAN’s BYOD solution allows non-organization owned devices to connect with less worry of security breaches, viruses and open policy. It’s also very easy to use and implement and enforce compliance with policies in place.

BorderLAN Provides Anti-Virus Solution for West Des Moines Schools

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District makes choice after evaluation determines ESET Anti-Virus speedier, more efficient

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – BorderLAN Logo In the age of shrinking budgets and aging computers, school districts are forced to start thinking outside the box maintain their network security. “A locked-down and well-managed desktop PC can be over 40% less expensive to maintain than an unmanaged one that fails often and only last a few years,” explained Craig Smith of BorderLAN, a nationwide network security provider. “With 70,000 unique pieces of malware variants being identified daily, you need the best anti-virus software you can find.”

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) – the state’s ninth-largest K-12 district, including 14 schools, more than 9,000 students and 1,200 employees – understood. After conducting an independent case study of available Anti-Virus programs, it selected ESET as its exclusive AV system.

Said Scott Crothers, district network engineer, “Most AV systems these days have lost their way and become huge bloat software that does very little, uses more than it should and does not do the primary job it was designed for. We used many of the popular AV’s in the past but now we needed one that had two simple requirements: fast boot time and low footprint on local resources.”

A WDMCS team launched an evaluation of the three biggest names in anti-virus software … and just before conducting its tests was introduced to ESET by BorderLAN Network Security.
Identical personal computers were formatted and each loaded with a different AV program. The team timed regular boot cycles, and evaluate boot resources, along with ongoing local resources to gauge the impact of each installation. The winner was ESET — with a noticeable 45 seconds faster boot.

“Boot speed was important, but only part of the equation,” Crothers said. “The next test evaluated the resource usage of the AV systems in background / standby mode and in scan mode. Hands down, ESET not only used half of the resources of its competition, but also completed the scans faster.”

Scan technology was also an important factor in the WDMCS case study. “We found ESET to be very proactive in its signature update process for known threats,” said Crothers. “Moreover, ESET’s heuristics-based scan engine was able to identify threat variants that have morphed from their original known threat signatures. Given the dynamic nature of modern viruses, trojans, spyware, and malware in general, ESET’s effective capability to combat zero-day threats made for a clear decision.”

Crothers continued, “Prior to ESET, the AV bloatware we were using was causing delays in the classroom and even caused slower application performance due to low resources. We feel we have extended the life of our PCs by using ESET.”

“We needed something simple, fast and affordable and BorderLAN delivered. ESET and BorderLAN exceeded our requirements and impressed us further with technical support and helpfulness.”

About BorderLAN Inc.

BorderLAN is a California-based nationwide provider of innovative and budget-friendly software, specializing in hassle-free network security solutions for IT and compliance needs as well as deployment assistance. BorderLAN clients include thousands of schools, businesses and government offices.

The case for web filtering and web application firewalls: security | productivity | liability.

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Risk Level: MODERATE

Internal threats now represent more than 60% of the risk to company data, 40% coming from hackers.

Type of Threat:

Web applications and web-enabled mobile devices for convenience is a green-field frontier for hackers. Corporate defenses were never designed to block web – they just allow port 80 and block playboy.com. Ok we’re way beyond security of 1998, so now we must re-look at our gateway devices and require them to control the most important aspects of our company, including web application access, usage, monitoring, website visits, reporting and more. We can no longer standby and hope our CRM access, our database, email and more is secure.

Why this is so important:

Convenience has driven faster than our security policies. Internal threats now represent more than 60% of the risk to company data, 40% coming from hackers. We must remember internal threats are dangerous for three main reasons;

  1. We trust them (authorized users)
  2. We don’t typically monitor them
  3. We give them access to everything.

End users and executives alike have a limited time with an organization. The best practice is to realize that loyalty is not what it used to be, and to get serious about a policy, then employ technology to ensure the data and assetts are protected. When people are conntected to the web or even their web mail, the natural belief is they can “send” important documents to their home email, from their home email, to “work” on it remote. That activity just lost your entire database of customers. Hopefully they dont work for a competitor in the future….

Liability has gone up? You bet!

Giving someone an ipad is enough to cause liability. Imagine them at home accessing things they should not with a copmany resources. Guess who’s fault it is? Yup – it’s the companies. Now imagine an employee downloading music and movies on a corporate owned system through open ports the traditional firewall/filter combos cant block. Again it’s the fault of the company. The third point brings up someone losing their laptop, which happens to have customer information. This happens all the time and brings hundreds of thousands of liability dollars, apologies, letters of shame, identity theft issues and more. Again, the companies responsibility and liability.

How to mitigate:

A couple easy ways; First you need a usage policy defining what can be accessed and what is inappropriate (BorderLAN can help with this template), Second a smart filter that monitors, reports and blocks inappropriate access both ON network AND OFF network on company devices or even personal devices. Third is to outline a web -app policy and procure a device to manage those apps. Think of it as a interal facing web-app firewall.

Technical Recommendations:

We recommend Appliance based Web Filtering with capabilities of controlling IPAD’s and mobile iDevices. We recommend Web Application Firewall appliances to mitigate and enforce usage policies on apps that are accessing critical and confidential data. BorderLAN can help consult with and size these appliances for your organization.

Power Save and Redlands Unified School District

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Redlands Unified School District (RUSD) is a California-based school district, serving over 21,000 students. There are 23 schools in the district, ranging from elementary to high schools, and over 1,800 employees. RUSD currently has over 7,000 Windows computers across the district, supported by 75 servers. The main district office connects to all of its schools via fiber point-to-point optic connection.

Problem
Like many school districts, RUSD was mandated to cut costs and realize savings wherever possible. The district did not have an existing power management strategy in place, and therefore manually shutdown their computers every night. Not only was this difficult to control, but because there were no specific reporting features, it was impossible to determine how much unnecessary energy was
being consumed or saved.The Technology Services Coordinator, David Massaro, and the Facilities team attended a Southern California Edison presentation on power management. For schools and other organizations facing shrinking budgets, they learned that a dedicated PC power management solution is an immediate and cost effective way to reduce computer energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Southern California Edison is one of the largest power providers in California and provides rebates to school districts and companies who purchase PC power saving software.

Solution
Recognizing the opportunity to save money with a dedicated PC power management solution, Massaro began researching various solutions. Out of the numerous vendors Massaro examined, Faronics caught his attention. As an already satisfied customer of Faronics Deep Freeze (an instant system restore solution) and Faronics Insight (a classroom management solution), David didn’t hesitate to choose Faronics Power Save as their power management solution of choice.

The PC energy reducing software is now deployed on over 5,500 computers at RUSD. There are two dedicated servers that manage all Power Save PCs in the district’s office, and the software has been configured to ensure the most efficient savings without any end-user disruption.

Deep Freeze Mac and La Mesa-Spring Valley School District

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La Mesa-Spring Valley School District is a K-8 district located in the East County of San Diego. The District serves 14,310 students housed in 18 elementary (K-5) and four middle schools (6-8). Certificated and classified employees number 1,550.

District-wide there are approximately 1,600 workstations running on a Novell core network. Though Windows workstations are used by administrative staff, Macs are used for educational purposes – students and teachers. The Macs mainly run OS 10.2.8 to 10.3.9 with any new hardware purchases having OS 10.4 (there are also some older machines still running OS 8 & 9, but these are slowly being phased out.)La Mesa-Spring Valley School District has an annual budget of $100,000,000 and an approximate student-to-computer ratio of 10:1 (on computers less than three years old.)

At the time that La Mesa-Spring Valley was transitioning to Mac OS X, the Information Systems (IS) staff realized that, though the operating system offered an environment that was more “kid-proof ”, there were still general worries with regard students “explorations” and general OS integrity.“Middle-schoolers are notoriously mischievous when it comes to computers,” said Richard Ribley, a Support Technician at La Mesa-Spring Valley. “They like to change things just because they can, whether that means taking items off the Dock, moving files to different locations or changing the toolbar in an application like Word. This would, of course, screw up the machine for the next person or even for the same person coming back to that machine later.”

Mr. Ribley and the La Mesa-Spring Valley IS staff found that the teachers often wouldn’t know how to rectify user-created difficulties or, if they did, would spend more time fixing the problems than teaching – a situation that didn’t work for either teacher or students. Generally, the teacher would end up calling the IS staff. With a staff of six and a schedule that meant that a staff member could only visit a school once every five days, a computer could easily be out of commission for a week.

In their preventative efforts, the IT staff implemented pop-up blocker software for Windows Explorer When OS 8 and 9 were being utilized, La Mesa-Spring Valley utilized programs like On Guard (which they still use on their older systems) and Foolproof Security. With their transition to OS X, a security solution that worked with OS 10.2 (Jaguar) had to be implemented quickly or computer downtime and over-stretched staff would become an ongoing problem. Attempting to use Jaguar’s Simple Finder to curtail precocious users proved unworkable because this solution did not allow for a shortcut to the District’s Novell server and, therefore, students could not log in to their network accounts. There were no known OS X alternatives out there.

“The difference that using Deep Freeze Mac made was huge,” said Mr. Ribley. “Immediately, we saw the amount of support time devoted to our Macs easily cut to 5% of what we had been spending prior to installing Deep Freeze. Deep Freeze eliminated 95% of all the software issues we were encountering so that almost the only difficulties we had were hardware-related.”

Faronics Anti-Executable and Granite School District

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Granite School District, located in Salt Lake County, Utah, operates 60 elementary schools, 16 junior high schools, 9 high schools, as well as other special schools and programs. With 68,075 students, Granite is the second largest district in Utah and is among the largest public school districts in the nation. Granite is also one of Utah’s largest employers, with more than 7,500 full and part-time employees. Granite has also been nationally recognized for teacher professional development programs and the economic efficiencies of its administration.

The Problem They Faced

Scott Watson, an Electronics Teacher in Hunter Senior High School, trains students in a computer lab consisting of 24 workstations that operate as independent computers 90% of the time, and server interfaced network stations for the balance 10%. These dual-core processor systems run Microsoft Windows XP SP3 and are utilized by over 150 students every day.

“We are fortunate in that we have a powerful computer lab,” says Mr. Watson. “We do, however, want to ensure that power is used for educational purposes, and not for classroom distractions such as games, instant messaging, and peer-to-peer file sharing.”

The Solution

“I could not find any other product comparable to Faronics Anti-Executable,” says Mr. Watson. Faronics Anti-Executable has given Granite School District the ability to enforce total compliance in their computer labs. The district’s teachers benefit from distractionfree classroom sessions each and every time, while the district’s IT personnel are guaranteed that the lab computers remain free of unwanted software and compliant with acceptable use policies.

“Faronics Anti-Executable’s white list protection gives us the assurance that only the programs we have installed on the computers are able to run,” says Mr. Watson. “We use Deep Freeze to return our computers back to their original state, but that happens only upon workstation restart. Sometimes a lab computer is kept running for an entire day, so it could potentially accrue a whole day’s worth of ‘software junk’.”

Measuring the ROI of Faronics Deep Freeze

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Lowering IT costs and providing a solid ROI for IT projects are among the top challenges for IT executives. Gartner reports that a locked-down and well-managed desktop PC can be 42% less expensive to keep than an unmanaged one, and that the salary cost of a help desk employee can be estimated to be between $21.63 and $40.86 per hour.

The average help desk cost per contact is estimated to be $23.09. Faronics lowers these costs. Faronics Deep Freeze reduces IT support costs and help desk requests while increasing computer availability. The hundreds of unsolicited testimonials that Faronics has received over the last 10 years provide a wealth of anecdotal evidence. This survey presents quantifiable proof of the effectiveness of Deep Freeze.

The findings of the survey are clear. Organizations using Deep Freeze experience up to a 63% reduction in the number of support tickets per desktop and support 12% more computers with the same staff compared to organizations not using Deep Freeze.

Organizations must always be conscious of the bottom line, but they must also balance restrictions with productivity. Excessive restrictions reduce personnel efficiency, relaxed policies result in additional costs associated with support. Deep Freeze helps here as well.

Deep Freeze’s patented technology makes computers immune to any software related issues, and assures IT that any changes are only temporary and will have no lasting effects on the protected computers. Users, on the other side, can enjoy a fully functional and unrestricted computing experience for
maximum productivity.

These facts point to the conclusion that Deep Freeze provides organizations with a significant and tangible savings value. Organizations are able to lower their IT support costs while concurrently
gaining efficiency for allocating their IT resources to other priorities.

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