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City of Canada Bay Council: Building Better Security Systems with Sophos

Confidentiality in online communications is a vital goal for any local

Sydney, 29 May 2008 -- Local Governments, like the City of Canada Bay Council, are the coalface for the community. What they do, or don't do, affects everyone in the local area. For the City of Canada Bay Council, issues including community safety, asset management, protection of the environment, community services, maintaining parks, as well as monitoring and controlling the type and quality of developments in the city are key focus areas.

Behind the scenes, the Council has an IT security and control architecture that protects the large volumes of information relating to the management of these issues. The Council has invested in comprehensive security from Sophos that stops hackers, malware authors, spammers and others from gaining access to the large volumes of financial, personal and other important information stored on its email, servers, PCs and laptops.

The City of Canada Bay Council in Sydney's inner west covers 20 square kilometres and is one of the fastest growing local government areas in Australia, as land along the banks of the Parramatta River is progressively reclaimed for housing development and new residents are attracted by the area's parkland character and extensive leisure facilities.

The Council has been a long time and very satisfied user of Sophos's anti-virus technology.  In 2003, the Council first integrated the Sophos Anti-Virus Interface on its email gateway. Sophos was recommended to the Council based on a number of factors, not least being that one of the amalgamated authorities from which City of Canada Bay Council was created in 2000 was already a Sophos user and reported it to be reliable and highly effective.

The Council was also impressed with Sophos's extensive experience in protecting local government organisations, both in Australia and around the world.

In 2007, the Council made the decision to extend its use of Sophos's security solutions and has now fully deployed the Sophos Endpoint Security and Control 7.0 solution across every data server, PC and laptop used by its employees.

The same, high levels of protection are also afforded to the more than 50 internet-enabled computers used by members of the local community at the Council's three public libraries.

Additionally, Sophos protects the server for the 40 Blackberry handhelds used by Council employees while they're on the move.  In total, Sophos now protects more than 250 endpoint computers or mobile devices, as well as its email gateway.

While confidentiality in communications is obviously important for any local government authority, in the case of City of Canada Bay - with its high volumes of high value developments underway and the complex planning approvals and related email traffic involved - absolute security is critical.

A seasoned information systems manager and a realist, Peter Beck says, "These days, while there is not a lot of difference between many security products, Sophos gives us scanning functionality that simply isn't available in other software. Sophos was also obviously faster, better and easier to use. Since May, it has given us a massive administrative benefit."

"Sophos works well. If you open up any file or webpage with a virus in it, the software blocks it before it can run and advises you instantly. So, we rely heavily on Sophos and it hasn't let us down."

Pragmatic in his views about the relative merits of different hardware and software offerings, Peter Beck doesn't hide his enthusiasm when he talks about Sophos customer support. He explains, "Not long after we had switched to Sophos, we had a project where I needed to undertake a complete rebuild of our anti-malware environment at a time when neither of my two technicians was on site.

"The rebuild involved transitioning the Sophos enterprise endpoint security software to new hardware but one of my people was away on six weeks annual leave and the other was off sick for the three days of the rebuild. I was able to do the basic install but I needed expert help beyond that point."

"That help was provided by phone and the Sophos support people were just fantastic. I was the only person on site and they were very patient with me. Not just patient, either. Those people really know their product. We had the enterprise anti-malware environment restored in less than two hours and the whole exercise was completed inside of two days, all without leaving any of our people unprotected at any stage."

Sophos provides its customers with around-the-clock help from its Asia Pacific technical support and SophosLabs Threat Analysis centres, both located in North Sydney and in four other locations globally. Sophos's award-winning technical support services are delivered live through one on one interactions via phone and email.

Beck said, "I have had other experiences of getting things up-and-running in a hurry and it isn't always that easy. I sent an email to Sophos's headquarters to say that the support staff had worked tirelessly and had been just incredible."

While setting up the Sophos solution provided the Council with a very positive experience, Peter Beck also cites the ongoing management of the Sophos deployment as an impressive experience. The Council uses Sophos Enterprise Console, located on a single PC, to manage the hundreds of Sophos installations attached to the network.

According to Beck, this is one area where the Council has derived significant benefit, notably through reducing its administrative overheads related to supporting its security architecture.

"With Sophos we have a single point of control over every server, PC and laptop running Sophos.  This delivers a great advantage to the Council and helps us focus our resources on projects that further enhance the IT experience for our staff and local residents."