Networking & Wireless | News

Central Dauphin SD Adds Network Access Control

A district in central Pennsylvania has chosen a network access control appliance from Impulse Point to enable it to manage devices on a new wireless network. Central Dauphin School District has selected SafeConnect to force users to authenticate with a username and password before gaining network access and to comply with other district computing policies. The deployment comes on the heels of an expansion of the district's bring-your-own-device program.

"We looked at other vendors, but SafeConnect became the clear choice based on its ease of implementation and management and on our budget," said Matthew Sinopoli, director of technology services. "The easiest part of this whole process was setting up the technology. Because SafeConnect is so flexible, we can bring on new mobile and wireless devices with just a few commands to the router. Those are the big things that stood out to us."

According to Sinopoli, the district also wanted to centralize management of the network to be able to confirm that students were tapping wireless resources for educational use only.

"While we don't control the student's device, we want to make sure they aren't using district resources to access social media sites, communicate during tests, or access the district's internal networks," he noted. "With SafeConnect, I'm able to maintain centralized control and easily set up rules that limit gaming, peer to peer, and streaming media."

Currently, SafeConnect is set to check for:

  • Authentication, which is required after logoff, shutdown, or restart of the user's computer;
  • A policy key. If the SafeConnect policy key for Windows or Mac is missing, the device is immediately quarantined;
  • Anti-virus software that is installed, running, and up-to-date;
  • Network address translation. If the software detects that the user has a device such as a router performing NAT work, it's quickly quarantined;
  • Operating system patch level: The software quarantines the device if Windows Update isn't set to automatically download and install all updates; and
  • The existence of a firewall and anti-spyware (only recommendations at this point).

The district has implemented SafeConnect in its two high schools. It plans rollouts for middle and elementary schools next.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.