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Lancaster County is home to over 89,000 people in South Carolina and is comprised of 3 communities—Lancaster, Kershaw and Heath Springs. The Lancaster County Government consists of over 900 full and part-time employees across 35 departments, including multiple libraries, 911 and EMS, Sheriff, Fire, Treasurer, Auditor, and Human Resources.
Devin Allman has been the IT Director at Lancaster County for the last 3 years. He was brought on to find a network security solution the county could implement across all 35 departments—each with differing requirements—as well as ensure compliance with a range of federal regulations. Scott Hernandez was also hired on as the Network Administrator to directly handle all of the Untangle implementations and customizations.
Allman was introduced to Untangle when the county added its libraries under their organizational umbrella. The libraries already had Untangle NG Firewall in place to provide secure, free Wi-Fi to patrons. Allman saw the number of features available in NG Firewall that could be utilized across each department. “I quickly realized that NG Firewall does not just provide a way to separate public and internal networks, but also includes robust web filtering, detailed reporting capabilities, and protection for the core network by tackling malware, hacking, and phishing scams,” said Allman.
Ensuring a hardened core network for the county was Allman’s first priority. NG Firewall has many applications that provide comprehensive security at the gateway, including Web Filter, Virus Blocker, Phish Blocker, and Spam Blocker. Apps work together to ward off any threats or malicious actors that attempt to penetrate the network. While NG Firewall has multiple deployment options, Allman liked the simplicity of using an Untangle appliance. “We purchased the u500 appliance in conjunction with the NG Firewall Complete package for cost and time-saving purposes,” said Allman. “The appliance came with the software already installed, so all I had to do was plug it in and select my network preferences.” The u500 serves as the gateway to the core network, filtering traffic flowing from approximately 31 departments across 4 separate facilities.
The Reports app is the best app in the entire NG Firewall suite.
Due to the large number of employees at the county, Allman and Hernandez rely on the Directory Connector application to integrate with the existing Microsoft Active Directory. This integration enables Hernandez to require authentication to track when users gain access to the network, as well as enforce rules and policies based on the users’ group. “I can easily create different groups based on department or job function and apply specific rules to each,” said Hernandez.
Allman has subsequently purchased NG Firewall Complete u150 appliances to be used at their Emergency Operating Center, which includes the Fire Department, and the Sheriff’s Office. “We have many departments that must comply with a variety of federal regulations—our libraries must comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), while our sheriff department complies with the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Security Policy,” said Allman. “We can select the applications and policies that apply to that particular department, instead of forcing the same rules across all departments.”
Allman has also purchased several NG Firewall Complete u25 appliances to provide the libraries with their own segmented network. “We use the Captive Portal application to capture everyone connecting to the public Wi-Fi,” said Allman. In order for the libraries to qualify for E-Rate funding, a program to provide schools and libraries with discounted telecommunication and internet services, they must be CIPA compliant. Allman uses NG Firewall reporting to provide the necessary documents to prove the library is complying with CIPA requirements. “The Reports app is the best app in the entire NG Firewall suite,” said Allman. “It is our primary troubleshooting tool. We have alerts set up so we know when something odd is happening on the network, and we can drill down to further investigate each incident.” The reports are entirely database-driven and provides IT administrators like Allman real-time and historical insight into what is happening on the network.
Untangle’s support team is one of the best I’ve ever worked with.
With so many departments and locations to manage, Allman and Hernandez previously relied on a spreadsheet to keep track of everything. With Untangle Command Center, Allman and Hernandez now have a comprehensive view into all the NG Firewall deployments scattered throughout the county. “With Command Center, I can quickly login to see which site is having an issue and then remote access into that particular site,” said Hernandez. “Command Center has freed up so much of our time from the manual updating process we had before.” Command Center provides Dashboard, Appliances and Policy views of all NG Firewall deployments. “We have greatly streamlined our operations by using the Policy tab to manage, create and push changes across all of our deployments,” said Allman.
Since the county is so large and the IT team so small, Allman and Hernandez are still implementing NG Firewall in the remaining departments. “We spin up one department at a time to ensure each is set up correctly based on their specific requirements,” said Allman. “We have about half of the departments up and running on Untangle, and we plan to have them all on Untangle within the next 18 months.”
We rely on NG Firewall to show we are compliant with multiple federal regulations, including CIPA, CJIS, PCI and NIST.