The IT department for Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries manages 94 locations with over 400 Public access PCs while also providing free internet access via PC and public Wi-Fi. The size, IT footprint, patron and staff’s cybersecurity awareness of each location varies widely. In addition to keeping the systems working, the team also helps improve access with a sign-on and reservation system for computer stations and provides reporting data on the most popular connected services to management. And finally, where possible the organization looks to solutions that are Canadian-based to better manage costs and exchange rates and also to help keep public data inside our borders.
In addition to improving cybersecurity for their employees, they had a need to set-up content filtering to ensure that inappropriate content wasn’t being consumed in a family-friendly environment like a library. Historically, managing a large number of locations using traditional firewall or router-based filtering was time-consuming for the team and could not keep up with today’s threats and bypasses for content filtering. Finally, with several large projects underway they needed a solution that didn’t require a large investment in resources to set-up, provided consistency across all networks, and provided centralized management.
CIRA’s DNS Firewall provided the perfect solution by enabling the team to add security while also managing content filtering across all locations with a simple DNS change on local routers/gateways. They use a custom message on block pages that includes the email address for their ticketing system. This makes it easy for users to understand why a page is being blocked and to request access to sites that may, in fact, be appropriate to their researching needs.
“The support is what really differentiates CIRA from the others. We needed the ability to support dynamic IP addresses and rather than wait in some long development queue, CIRA went ahead and built it for us. No other vendor would commit to that level of help. Firewall was quick and easy to deploy and were able to fully deploy the solution to all locations in just over a week.”
The additional layer of cybersecurity helps protect both employee and public PCs while also offering additional protection for Wi-Fi users on their own devices. The custom messages give the IT team an opportunity to communicate cybersecurity issues to end users who think they are accessing safe sites (i.e. those that offer colouring book pages for download) but in fact are distribution points for serious malware. Finally, local library staff no longer need to respond to user inquiries to allow access to specific sites because end-users receive clear instructions on the reason (and possible remedies) when content filtering occurs. It has taken a potentially disgruntled user and made them happy.