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Iowa Courts Fight Worm Attacks

The state's judicial system deploys security software from Sygate to monitor traffic to network terminal.

Martin Garvey

March 11, 2005

1 Min Read

When a worm infects a computer network, even good security software may not work fast enough to prevent damage. And when that computer network serves an entire state, IT professionals will have to log a lot of miles to clean up the problems.

The State of Iowa Judicial Branch uses terminals that run an embedded version of Windows XP in 140 courthouses and juvenile offices. The state was planning to upgrade the machines but wanted to gain better control and improve security before making the investment.

The judicial network regularly faces a daunting problem. A worm would find its way into the network and infect a server. Security software would delete the worm before any damage was done to the server. But the worm would have enough time spread to a terminal on the network, which had no protection, and use that as a staging area to spread to other terminals. "It would take a day or two to get them all back on," says Scott Ruhnke, senior system administrator.

The judicial system recently added Sygate Security Agent 4.0 for Windows XP Embedded, proactive software from Sygate Inc. that checks all traffic coming into the terminal and prevents any terminal from sending anything to others. "That feature helps us the most," Ruhnke says. "The worm can't propagate itself."

Now that he feels more confident about the security of his network, Ruhnke is ready to begin deploying upgraded hardware to the judicial branch's 2,000 users later this month. Says Ruhnke. "This is the first time we feel comfortable enough."

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