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Security Gateway Helps Braxton Schools

Braxton County Public Schools in West Virginia are deploying security gateways introduced this week by Symantec to fight off security threats.

Business-technology managers may complain about the never-ending wave of worms and viruses threatening their companies, but few of them would want to switch jobs with someone in charge of IT security at a high school, a building filled with students who are just as likely to download the latest security threat as they are the newest tune.

For Sterling Beane, technology director at Braxton County Public Schools in West Virginia, keeping the schools' computers free of malicious software is a constant struggle. "We've had students pulling in deep spyware from high-speed hackers," he says. "We'd never let a stranger walk in from the street, but we had students using chat programs."

For additional protection, Beane is turning to security appliances from Symantec Corp. that were introduced this week. The Symantec Gateway Security 5600 Series appliances offer scalable throughput, hardware redundancy, improved high availability, and load balancing. The devices now support for both IPsec and Secure Sockets Layer VPN authentication from the same appliance. Symantec also integrates anti-spam, antivirus, intrusion detection, intrusion protection, content filtering, and other security features in a single gateway. The new appliances are faster than their predecessors, providing throughput of up 384 Mbytes per second. The 5600 series is priced between $4,000 and $35,000.

An industry analyst says the increased performance could make gateways appealing to larger companies, rather than just to the small and midsize businesses that are the typical market. Offering SSL and IPsec support in a single gateway will cut down on dual appliance purchases, and an integrated single management console will help ease overall management, says Jon Oltski, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. "Customers could save on up-front installation costs and ongoing management costs," he says. "Too often, companies have multiple vendors and multiple appliances, with no integration between them."

Beane likes using a single gateway appliance that keeps bad things from entering his network as well as keeps bad things from getting out. The gateway also may improve performance for students. "The new content-filtering engine," he says, "could lead to a better Web-browsing experience for our students by speeding up searches."

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