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The libssh Vulnerability: What’s at Risk & How SonicWall Helps Prevent It

The greatest thing about cybersecurity, at least when viewed from a practicing cybersecurity engineer, is the fact that it is a constantly changing landscape. And that is certainly the case with libssh.

For those who haven’t heard, a libssh exploit was identified last week, one that was ranked as critical by CVSS Severity and Metrics. This latest breach, CVE-2018-10933, allows attacks to compromise specific builds of libssh, essentially the code used for many open-source products that support SSH.

For those unfamiliar with SSH, well, let’s just say if you don’t use it, you likely don’t know what it is. But for those who do know it, they will immediately recognize the drastic and alarming nature of such a breach.

SSH, or Secure Shell, is a command line interface used to connect and administer various technology products. This includes servers, switches, routers and, yes, even firewall and security installations. That means that when this attack is leveraged it could grant unauthorized (literally) access directly to certain systems that control the very security of an organization, business, website and even government or healthcare networks.

What is … ‘Shush’?

Just to point out this significance of this breach, allow me to tell you a brief story. While conducting a security vulnerability assessment for an organization that manufactured products for a very niche market, I found that their network was transmitting more than 30GB of SSH traffic in the period of three days.

When I inquired as to why they were running this traffic, the CFO for the company in question pointedly asked me, “What is Shush?”

Let that sink in for a second. I know I had to, too.

Upon further investigation, I found that this traffic was all being sourced to a knock-off marketer’s network and the customer had potentially lost billions in market product sales. In short, SSH is a very powerful network communication protocol and should be highly regulated inside any network.

SonicWall Products Not Vulnerable to libssh

Not only are all SonicWall products immune to this latest breach, but we are also able to prevent against it.

SonicWall products do not leverage the affected code contained in the lilbssh breach. Even better, provided the SonicWall firewall is deployed using DPI-SSH configurations, we can detect when susceptible machines have been attacked and can prevent the breach before it happens.

Not only are all SonicWall products immune to this latest breach, but we are also able to prevent against it.

The SonicWall solution encompasses a complete end-to-end, real-time security system. That includes protection against zero-day discoveries such as this. The same day this particular breach was identified, SonicWall was already preventing it in any exposed SSH sessions — even if network admins had not taken to preventing those connections initially.

SonicWall DPI-SSH operates in a proxy-like manner. Because it does not mirror commands across the firewall, but rather initiates a regular connection on the other side of the firewall, SonicOS DPI-SSH is not susceptible to this attack. But it also effectively nullifies the attack because the DPI-SSH functionality itself cannot be vulnerable since there is no authentication to the “incoming” side of the proxy.

Additionally, DPI-SSH is primarily used in the LAN-to-WAN scenario for DLP monitoring, and the attack vector for this CVE is primarily WAN-to-LAN. DPI-SSH can, of course, protect LAN-initiated traffic by scanning SCP and SFTP protocols (encrypted traffic) for malware.

With the ever-evolving threat landscape, make sure that you have a security solution that can stay ahead of the breaches — not just react to new ones when they appear in the headlines. It is always easier to prevent the breach before it happens than figure out what to do after the fact.

Protecting Your MSSP Reputation with Behavior-Based Security

You’ve been here before. Your customer gets hit by a cyberattack and they ask, “Why did this happen? Shouldn’t your managed security service have protected us?”

Unless you give them a satisfactory answer, they may be shopping for a new partner. Over the past few years, I’ve heard several MSSPs having to explain to their customers that the malware or ransomware attack could not be stopped because they didn’t possess the technology that could mitigate new attacks.

Don’t put yourself in a situation where you can’t properly safeguard your customers — even against new or unknown attacks. To protect both your customers and your reputation against the latest threats, you need to deploy behavior-based security solutions that can better future-proof your customer environment.

The Logistics of Threat Prevention

When talking with people about threat prevention I ask, “How many new forms of malware do you think SonicWall detected last year?”

I usually hear answers in the thousands. The real answer? 56 million new forms or variants of malware in a single year. That’s more than 150,000 a day. Every day, security companies like SonicWall have teams of people creating signatures to help build in protections, but this takes time. Despite the industry’s best effort, static forms of threat elimination are limited.

Layering Security Across Customer Environments

MSSPs understand the importance of selling perimeter security, such as firewalls and email security, to scrub out most threats. These solutions will cover roughly 94-98 percent of threats. But for the smaller percentage of threats that are no less devastating, this is where behavior-based solutions come into play.

On each edge-facing firewall and email security service you need to have a network sandbox, which is an isolated environment where files can be tested to understand their intended purpose or motive. For example, the SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sandbox is an isolated environment that is designed to run suspicious files in parallel through multiple engines to resist evasive malware. With the ability to block a file until a verdict has been reached, you can ensure that you will deliver highly vetted and clean traffic to end users.

Endpoints require a form of security that continuously monitor the system for malicious behavior because they roam outside the network perimeter and encounter fileless threats that come from vectors like malvertising.

SonicWall’s endpoint security solution (called Capture Client) only uses roughly 1 percent of the CPU’s processing power on a standard laptop. It can stop attacks before they happen as well as halt attacks as they execute. MSSPs love the ability to prevent dynamic attacks but also roll them back (on Windows only) in case they do initiate.

Behavior-based Security in Action

The power of behavior-based security was clear with the initial WannaCry attack in 2017. It was made famous when 16 NHS hospitals in the UK were shut down due to this viral ransomware attack. These sites were protected by a competitor whose CEO had to explain himself and apologize on national television.

The sites protected by SonicWall were up and running and helped pick up the slack when the others went down. Three weeks before the attack, SonicWall put protections in place that prevented Version 1 of WannaCry and its SMB vulnerability exploit from working.

But it was the behavior-based security controls that helped to identify and stop all the subsequent versions that came after. This same pattern emerged again with the NotPetya and SamSam ransomware attacks; static defenses followed by proactive dynamic defenses.

Furthermore, SonicWall’s reporting enables MSSPs to be alerted when something has been stopped. SonicWall Capture Client attack visualization gives administrators a view of where the threat came from and what it wanted to do on the endpoint.

This approach gives our customers — and MSSPs powered by SonicWall — the ability to protect against threats detected by SonicWall. But this strategy also protects against attacks that shift and change to bypass safeguards. By doing our best to build protections in a timely manner, as well as providing technology that detects and stops unknown attacks, we protect your customer as well as your reputation.


This story originally appeared on MSSP Alert and was republished with permission.

SonicWall NSa Series Wins Cybersecurity Breakthrough Award as Best Firewall Solution

The CyberSecurity Breakthrough Awards named the SonicWall NSa the best next-generation firewall solution of 2018. The CyberSecurity Breakthrough Awards is an independent organization that recognizes the top companies, technologies and products in the global information security market. SonicWall has won 42 industry honors so far in 2018.

This year alone, SonicWall introduced seven new next-generation NSa firewall models: NSa 3650, 4650, 5650 6650, 9250, 9450 and 9650. The NSa series works in conjunction with the SonicWall Capture Cloud Platform as part of an end-to-end security solution that delivers integrated cloud-scale management to protect networks, email, endpoints, mobile and remote users.

CyberSecurity Breakthrough judges are experienced senior-level cybersecurity professionals who have personally worked within the information security space, including journalists, analysts and technology executives with experience in a range of information security positions and perspectives. From successful technology startups to veteran industry leaders, the panel of judges brings a balanced perspective of evaluation for the award nominations.

The judges have earned a reputation for fairness and credibility, and are committed to determining the break through nominations for each award category, which includes:

In 2017, SonicWall was named the Cybersecurity Breakthrough Overall Cybersecurity Company of the Year. More than 2,000 nominations from over 12 different countries throughout the world competed for the honor.

How MSSPs & Artificial Intelligence Can Mitigate Zero-Day Threats

So, here’s the problem: unknown zero-day threats are just that — unknown. You have no way (besides historical experience) to predict the next vulnerability avenue that will be exploited. You, therefore, don’t know what will need patching or what extra security layer needs injecting. This ultimately leads to a forecast-costing dilemma as you cannot predict the man hours involved.

The other quandary faced when tackling complex targeted zero days is the skills gap. Staffing a security operations center (SOC) with highly skilled cybersecurity professionals comes at a cost and only becomes profitable with economies of scale that a large customer base brings.

Coupled with the shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals in the open market, how can you get your SOC off the ground? Could artificial intelligence (AI) level the playing field?

Machine Learning Reality Check

Machine learning and behavioral analytics continue to grow and become synonymous with zero-day threat protection. Is this all hype or is it the new reality? The truth is, it is both.

There is a lot of hype, but for good reason: AI works. Big data is needed to see the behaviors and therein the anomalies or outright nefarious activities that human oversight would mostly fail to catch. Delivered as a layered security approach, AI is the only way to truly protect against modern cyber warfare, but not all AI is deterministic and herein lies the hidden cost to your bottom line.

AI-based analysis tools that provide forensics are very powerful, but the horse has bolted by the time they are used. This approach is akin to intrusion detection systems (IDS) versus intrusion prevention systems (IPS). The former are great for retrospective audits, but what is the cleanup cost? This usage of behavioral analysis AI solely for detection is not MSSP-friendly. What you need is automated, real-time breach detection and prevention. Prevention is key.

So, how do you create an effective prevention technology? You need security layers that filter the malware noise, so each can be more efficient at its detection and prevention function than the last. That means signature-based solutions are still necessary. In fact, they are as important as ever as one of the first layers of defense in your arsenal (content filtering comes in at the top spot).

By SonicWall metrics, the ever-growing bombardment of attacks the average network faces stands at 1,200-plus per day (check out the mid-year update to the 2018 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report for more details).

When you do the math, it’s easy to see that with millions of active firewalls, it’s not practical to perform deep analysis on every payload. For the best results, you must efficiently fingerprint and filter everything that has gone before.

Aren’t All Sandboxes Basically the Same?

Only by understanding the behavior of the application and watching what it’s attempting to do, can you uncover malicious intent and criminal action. The best environment to do this is a sandbox, but no SOC manpower in the world could accomplish this with humans at scale. In order to be effective, you must turn to AI.

AI understands the big data coming from behavioral analysis. It can adapt the discovery approach to uncover threats that try to hide and, once determined as malicious, can fingerprint the payload via signature, turning a zero day into a known threat. It is the speed of propagation of this new, known signature to the protection appliances participating in the mesh protection network that drives the efficiencies to discover more threats.

Also, it’s the size of the mesh network catchment area that allows you the largest overall service area of attaches, which helps your AI quickly learn from the largest sample data set.

Luckily, SonicWall has you covered on all these fronts. With more than 1 million sensors deployed across 215 territories and countries, SonicWall has one of the largest global footprint of active firewalls. Plus, the cloud-based, multi-engine SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sandbox service discovers and stops unknown, zero-day attacks, such as ransomware, at the gateway with automated remediation.

Our recent introduction of the patent-pending Real-Time Deep Memory Inspection (RTDMITM) technology, which inspects memory in real time, can detect and prevent chip vulnerability attaches such as Spectre, Meltdown and Foreshadow. It’s included with every Capture ATP activation.

At SonicWall, the mantra of automated, real-time breach detection and prevention is fundamental to our security portfolio. It is how our partners drive predictable operational expenditures in the most challenging security environments. Only via connected solutions, utilizing shared intelligence, can you protect against all cyber threat vectors.


A version of this story originally appeared on MSSP Alert and was republished with permission.

SonicWall’s Consistent Value, Cyber Security Effectiveness Earn ‘Recommended’ Rating from NSS Labs

For far too long the modern organization has been told it must pay hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even millions) for powerful, enterprise-grade security.

But for more than 25 years, SonicWall’s mission has been to deliver consistent value and powerful cyber security for organizations of all sizes and budgets. For the fifth time since 2012, this has been validated by one of the most trusted, fact-based organizations in the industry: NSS Labs.

In its 2018 group test of next-generation firewalls (NGFW), NSS Labs strongly positioned SonicWall and the NSa 2650 firewall in the upper-right ‘Recommended’ quadrant of the 2018 NSS Labs Security Value MapTM (SVM).

“NSS Labs is committed to independent testing that helps enterprises make informed cybersecurity decisions,” said NSS Labs CEO Vikram Phatak in SonicWall’s official announcement. “With ‘Recommended’ ratings for five years, SonicWall next-generation firewalls are an excellent choice for any company seeking devices with strong security and consistent product quality to evolve their security architectures. We applaud SonicWall’s focus on product consistency and security effectiveness.”

This year’s in-depth firewall comparison was comprised of totals based on security effectiveness, block rates, stability, performance, product purchasing price, maintenance, installation costs, required upkeep, management and installation. In its head-to-head comparison tests, NSS Labs verifies that NSa 2650:

  • Remains one of the highest-rated and best-value NGFWs in the industry, with a 98.8 percent security effectiveness rating
  • Delivers second-best total cost of ownership (TCO) with $4 per protected Mbps
  • Tested 100 percent effective in countering all advanced HTTP evasion, obfuscation and fragmentation techniques
  • Earned 100 percent ratings in stability and reliability testing

Many factors are taken into consideration when weighing vendor options, measuring security efficacy and calculating TCO.

Security Effectiveness of Firewalls

NSS Labs conducts one of the industry’s most respected, comprehensive and fact-based validation programs for a full range of cybersecurity products, including network and breach security, endpoint protection, cloud and virtual security, and more.

For this year’s comparison test, the SonicWall NSa 2650 next-generation firewall was compared against other industry offerings. During the NSS Labs evaluation, SonicWall NSa 2650 endured thorough testing exercises via the NSS Exploit Library, which exposed the appliance to more than 1,900 exploits.

To ensure real-world testing conditions, NSS Labs engineers utilize multiple commercial, open-source and propriety tools to launch a broad range of attacks. SonicWall NSa 2650 blocked 98.8 percent of all attacks was 100 percent reliable during testing. SonicWall also was successful in countering 100 percent of all advanced HTTP evasion, obfuscation and fragmentation techniques.

The SonicWall NSa 2650 strong security effectiveness and findings within the NSS report are applicable to the entire SonicWall NSa next-generation firewall series.

Total Cost of Ownership for Firewalls

“SonicWall offers the second-lowest TCO with $4 cost per protected Mbps.”

The cyber security industry’s pricing models are, frankly, out of date. Too many legacy vendors believe their old way of doing business — charging hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars — is beneficial to end customers and prospects. In some cases, high-end hardware is required, but there should also be powerful, cost-effective options for today’s business.

SonicWall understands and embraces this change.

It’s the reason we continually monitor and refine our pricing structures to ensure every organization is able to protect themselves from today’s most malicious cyberattacks. And we’re proud to say that NSS Labs found SonicWall to offer the second-lowest TCO with $4 cost per protected Mbps.

NSS Labs calculates TCO across a three-year period. At a high level, the formula includes:

  • Year 1 Purchase Price
  • Year 1 Installation & Labor
  • Year 1 Maintenance Costs
  • Year 2 Maintenance Costs
  • Year 3 Maintenance Costs

According to NSS Labs, “Calculations are based on a labor rate of $75 (USD) per hour and vendor-provided pricing information. Where possible, the 24/7 maintenance and support option with 24-hour replacement is used, since enterprise customers typically select that option. Pricing includes one enterprise-class CMS to manage up to five devices.”

As a best practice, enterprises and security-conscious organizations should include TCO as part of their NGFW evaluations, including:

  • Acquisition costs for NGFW and a central management system (CMS)
  • Fees paid to the vendor for annual maintenance, support and signature updates
  • Labor costs for installation, maintenance and upkeep

eWeek Goes 1-on-1 with SonicWall CEO Bill Conner

Bill Conner has a plan for SonicWall. And he’s already ahead of it.

In a recent interview with eWeek, the SonicWall CEO provided high-level perspective on not only where SonicWall is and how it got here, but also where it’s going in the future. It was a candid, one-on-one conversation that really lets the industry get to know SonicWall as a company.

“Everything comes through some kind of a network … where we think the market is going is really going to be about automated, real-time breach detection and prevention,” said Conner.

Announced in May 2018, SonicWall financially separated from Quest with oversubscribed investment interest and unprecedented growth in the last six quarters. This success is less than two years removed from Francisco Partner’s purchase of SonicWall from Dell.

“We still have Dell as a partner, and as an OEM, and still do a great deal of business with them,” Conner told eWeek. “We also have business that has nothing to do with Dell.”

Conner walked eWeek through the last 10 months of fast-moving growth for SonicWall, which included 12 new products that featured updates to trusted firewalls, introduced new virtual firewall offerings and unveiled the SonicWall Capture Cloud Platform.

Conner stressed that all of the development into defending endpoints, email and other areas of vulnerability does not mean that SonicWall is diverging from its true nature, which is primarily that of a network security company. SonicWall is simply expanding the breadth of its cyber security portfolio to deliver more cost-effective, real-time protection to customers and partners.

“One of the big questions when I came in was, ‘Is the brand going to be alive?’” said Conner. “Then there were questions about our roadmap and ability to deliver … Now our vision, that I started talking about six quarters ago, is starting to be real.”

This fiscal year SonicWall also added over 24,000 SecureFirst partner organizations, a 60 percent year-over-year increase, while closing $530 million in partner deal registrations. Since the start of 2018, SonicWall has collected 27 cybersecurity industry accolades, most recently being named the Editor’s Choice Security Company of the Year by Cyber Defense Magazine.

Is Your Firewall Ready for the IoT Era? The 3 Tough Questions to Ask

My wife was out of the country recently, so I took the opportunity to nudge our house a little further into the 21st century by installing a Nest thermostat. It won’t solve my family’s disagreements about the temperature, but it’s a cool gadget that makes me feel like I’m modernizing a house that was built well into the last century.

The thermostat is just one of many smart devices on the market that connects to the internet and your local network — whether that’s at home, the office or your business. In this case, it’s connecting via Wi-Fi to my home firewall, so I know it’s secure.

But is that the case for all the Internet of Things (IoT) devices out there? The number of connected “things” that need to be secured continues to grow — cars, TVs, watches, wearables, refrigerators, security cameras. And these are just a few examples.

By the end of 2018, statistics research company Statista expects the installed base of IoT devices to exceed 23 billion, increasing to almost 31 billion in 2020. That’s a whole lot things that can connect to your organization’s network, and it doesn’t include all the PCs, laptops and phones we use daily. Some connect to a firewall or router through an Ethernet cable, while others connect over wireless. Whether they’re tethered or not, more connected devices means more risk.

To help secure the flow of traffic across networks, organizations have increasingly been turning to the use of Transport Layer Security and Secure Sockets Layer (TLS/SSL) encryption.

In fact, SonicWall recently noted in its 2018 Cyber Threat Report that almost 70 percent of connections are now encrypted. Like sales of IoT devices, the number of HTTP sessions continues to climb. While this is generally a good thing, cyber criminals are also using encryption to hide their attacks.

How to secure IoT devices connecting to my network

So, what steps can you take to make sure all your devices can connect securely to your organization’s network? Here are three questions you should address:

  1. Can my firewall decrypt and scan encrypted traffic for threats?
    As I mentioned earlier, the use of encryption is growing both for good and malicious purposes. More and more, we’re seeing cyber criminals hiding their malware and ransomware attacks in encrypted sessions, so you need to make sure your firewall can apply deep packet inspection (DPI) to HTTPS connections, such as DPI-SSL
  2. Can my firewall support deep packet inspection across all my connected devices?
    Someone told me the other day that very soon each person will have an average of 13 connected devices. That’s a lot of potential devices connecting to your network. Now think of all the encrypted web sessions each device might have. You need to make sure your firewall can support all of them while securing each from advanced cyber attacks. Having only a high number of stateful packet inspection connections doesn’t cut it any more. Today, it’s about supporting more deep packet inspection connections.
  3. Can my firewall enable secure high-speed wireless?
    OK, this one sounds simple. Everyone says they provide high-speed wireless. But are you sure? The latest wireless standard is 802.11ac Wave 2, which promises multi-gigabit Wi-Fi to support bandwidth-intensive apps. Access points with a physical connection to the firewall should have a port capable of supporting these faster speeds. So should the firewall. Using a 1-GbE port creates a bottleneck on the firewall, while 5-GbE and 10-GbE ports are overkill. Having a 2.5-GbE port makes for a good fit.

SonicWall NSa next-generation firewalls

If you’re not sure you can answer “Yes” to these three questions about your current firewall thenSonicWall NSa series.

We’ve recently introduced several new models for mid-sized networks and distributed enterprises with remote and branch sites. The new NSa 3650, NSa 4650 and NSa 5650 join the NSa 2650, which SonicWall released last September. All four models deliver the automated real-time breach detection and prevention today’s organizations need.

SonicWall NSa next-generation firewalls now include NSa 3650, 4650 and 5650 offerings.

Here are a few of the key features the NSa series offers:

  • Cloud-based, on-box threat protection – Staying ahead of sophisticated attacks requires a more modern approach that heavily leverages security intelligence in the cloud. NSa series next-generation firewalls integrate two advanced security technologies — our patent-pending Real-Time Deep Memory InspectionTM and patented Reassembly-Free Deep Packet Inspection‚ which deliver cloud-based, on-box threat protection.
  • High connection count – The NSa series enables a very high number of deep packet inspection (DPI) and deep packet inspection of TLS/SSL-encrypted (DPI-SSL) connections.
  • High port density – The NSa series provides high port density, ranging from 20 physical ports on the NSa 2650 up to 28 on the NSa This high port density enables more devices to connect directly to the firewall without the need for a switch.
  • 5-GbE ports – NSa series firewalls include multiple 2.5-GbE interfaces, an industry first for firewalls. The 2.5-GbE interfaces enable faster wired throughput speeds while also supporting the requirements for 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless access points including the SonicWall SonicWave series of 802.11ac Wave 2 indoor and outdoor access points.
  • 10-GbE ports – NSa series firewalls (except NSa 2650) also include multiple 10-GbE interfaces to support faster data rates for the delivery of bandwidth-intensive applications over longer distances.
  • Onboard storage – Each NSa series firewall includes a pre-populated storage module ranging from 16 GB on the NSa 2650 up to 64 GB on the NSa The storage enables support for various features including logging, reporting, last signature update, backup and restore and more.

Even if you answered “Yes” to some or all of the questions, it’s still a good idea to see if you’re getting the most from your firewall. Learn more about the SonicWall NSa series, and how you can get high-speed wired and wireless security across all your connections, encrypted and unencrypted.

RSA Conference 2018: SonicWall is Hot

Fresh off of April’s massive SonicWall Capture Cloud Platform launch, SonicWall has been featured in a pair of CRN articles highlighting the hottest products at RSA Conference 2018.

The SonicWall Capture Cloud Platform is lauded in CRN’s “10 Hot New Cloud Security Products Announced at RSA 2018” listing. CRN recaps the platform’s ability to integrate security, management, analytics and real-time threat intelligence across SonicWall’s portfolio of network, email, mobile and cloud security products.

Complementing that accolade, a pair of new SonicWall products were listed in the “20 Hot New Security Products Announced at RSA 2018” category. The new SonicWall NSv virtual firewall (slide 7) and SonicWall Capture Client (slide 12) endpoint protection were showcased.

SonicWall Capture Client is a unified endpoint offering with multiple protection capabilities. With a next-generation malware protection engine powered by SentinelOne, Capture Client delivers advanced threat protection techniques, such as machine learning and system rollback.

SonicWall Network Security virtual (NSv) firewalls protect all critical components of your private/public cloud environment from resource misuse attacks, cross virtual machine attacks, side channel attacks and common network-based exploits and threats. It captures traffic between virtual machines (VM) and networks for automated breach prevention and establishes access control measures for data confidentiality and ensures VMs safety and integrity.

Navigating the E-rate Program: Forms, Filling Cycles & Rules

Participating in your first E-rate season can be overwhelming. It is important to understand eligibility requirements of the program since the forms and terminology can become confusing. To better understand the ins and outs of the E-rate program, watch Episode 2 of the SonicWall Fear Less E-rate video series below.

Episode Two: Navigating the E-rate Program

On the second episode of the E-rate Fear Less series, Komplement CEO Holly Davis highlights key elements of the E-rate program to help you navigate the process. You will learn about the filling cycle, ESL, 470 and 471 forms, and rules of the program.

Before you get started, it’s important to remember some key dates. First, the E-rate program operates on a fiscal year (FY) calendar. This year, FY2019 is July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019. From here, there are two primary dates to remember:

  • 470 Filing: July 1, 2018 (RFP Posting)
  • 471 Filing: January 11, 2019-March 22, 2019

Applicant Steps & Resources

Prep: Before You Begin
Step 1: Competitive Bidding
Step 2: Selecting Service Providers
Step 3: Applying for Discounts
Step 4: Application Review
Step 5: Starting Services
Step 6: Invoicing 

Resources provided by USAC

Each year, before the FCC Form 471 application filing window opens, the FCC releases Eligible Services List (ESL) for the upcoming funding year (it is typically released between September and November).

The ESL contains a description of the products and services that will be eligible for discounts, along with additional helpful information such as eligibility conditions for each category of service for each specified funding year.

Be sure to review the list before you post a form 470 request for services to properly align your products and service needs.

Episode Archive

SonicWall and E-rate

Dates to Remember

470 Filing: July 1 (RFP Posting)
471 Filing: January 11-March 22

Through its global channel of more than 23,000 technology partners, SonicWall is actively involved in helping K12 education organizations cost-effectively obtain and deploy network security solutions.

SonicWall provides a broad array of E-rate-eligible products and services, including firewalls and turnkey Security-as-a-Service solutions.

SonicWall can discuss its products and services prior to the posting of a school/library Form 470, which begins the competitive bidding process. Once Form 470 is filed, SonicWall and its partners are restricted to rules and regulations of the program and are respondents to the bidding.

If you are utilizing E-rate funding to assist you in buying your networking and cyber security solutions, SonicWall can help. Our team of E-rate funding experts ensure your SonicWall solution aligns with the rules and regulations of the E-rate program. SonicWall provides services in the following areas:

  • Managed Internal Broadband Services
  • Internal Connections
  • Basic Maintenance for Internal Connections

SonicWall integrated solutions meet the needs of school districts at the highest efficacy and at price points that fit within K12 budget constraints. SonicWall helps reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for these under-funded organizations.

If you are an eligible K12 organization, please contact your preferred SonicWall reseller for information on E-rate benefits and discounts, or visit the SonicWall E-rate page for information, tools and guidance.

What is E-rate?

To help offset funding and staffing shortages, the U.S. Department of Education and the FCC launched the E-rate program, which helps make telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools, campuses, districts and libraries.

“Eligible schools and libraries may receive discounts on telecommunications, telecommunications services and internet access, as well as internal connections, managed internal broadband services and basic maintenance of internal connections,” explains the FCC website. “Discounts range from 20 to 90 percent, with higher discounts for higher poverty and rural schools and libraries. Recipients must pay some portion of the service costs.”

The E-rate program is operated by Universal Service Administration Company (USAC), which has a core focus of providing underfunded verticals the access to affordable technology and security services. This includes schools, libraries, rural healthcare organizations and more.

USAC provides a yearly Eligible Services List (ESL), which outlines which types of products and services can be procured via E-rate program discounts.

Is Your Firewall Ready for the IoT Era? The 3 Tough Questions to Ask

My wife was out of the country recently, so I took the opportunity to nudge our house a little further into the 21st century by installing a Nest thermostat. It won’t solve my family’s disagreements about the temperature, but it’s a cool gadget that makes me feel like I’m modernizing a house that was built well into the last century.

The thermostat is just one of many smart devices on the market that connects to the internet and your local network — whether that’s at home, the office or your business. In this case, it’s connecting via Wi-Fi to my home firewall, so I know it’s secure.

But is that the case for all the Internet of Things (IoT) devices out there? The number of connected “things” that need to be secured continues to grow — cars, TVs, watches, wearables, refrigerators, security cameras. And these are just a few examples.

By the end of 2018, statistics research company Statista expects the installed base of IoT devices to exceed 23 billion, increasing to almost 31 billion in 2020. That’s a whole lot things that can connect to your organization’s network, and it doesn’t include all the PCs, laptops and phones we use daily. Some connect to a firewall or router through an Ethernet cable, while others connect over wireless. Whether they’re tethered or not, more connected devices means more risk.

To help secure the flow of traffic across networks, organizations have increasingly been turning to the use of Transport Layer Security and Secure Sockets Layer (TLS/SSL) encryption.

In fact, SonicWall recently noted in its 2018 Cyber Threat Report that almost 70 percent of connections are now encrypted. Like sales of IoT devices, the number of HTTP sessions continues to climb. While this is generally a good thing, cyber criminals are also using encryption to hide their attacks.

How to secure IoT devices connecting to my network

So, what steps can you take to make sure all your devices can connect securely to your organization’s network? Here are three questions you should address:

  1. Can my firewall decrypt and scan encrypted traffic for threats?
    As I mentioned earlier, the use of encryption is growing both for good and malicious purposes. More and more, we’re seeing cyber criminals hiding their malware and ransomware attacks in encrypted sessions, so you need to make sure your firewall can apply deep packet inspection (DPI) to HTTPS connections, such as DPI-SSL.
  2. Can my firewall support deep packet inspection across all my connected devices?
    Someone told me the other day that very soon each person will have an average of 13 connected devices. That’s a lot of potential devices connecting to your network. Now think of all the encrypted web sessions each device might have. You need to make sure your firewall can support all of them while securing each from advanced cyber attacks. Having only a high number of stateful packet inspection connections doesn’t cut it any more. Today, it’s about supporting more deep packet inspection connections.
  3. Can my firewall enable secure high-speed wireless?
    OK, this one sounds simple. Everyone says they provide high-speed wireless. But are you sure? The latest wireless standard is 802.11ac Wave 2, which promises multi-gigabit Wi-Fi to support bandwidth-intensive apps. Access points with a physical connection to the firewall should have a port capable of supporting these faster speeds. So should the firewall. Using a 1-GbE port creates a bottleneck on the firewall, while 5-GbE and 10-GbE ports are overkill. Having a 2.5-GbE port makes for a good fit.

SonicWall NSa next-generation firewalls

If you’re not sure you can answer “Yes” to these three questions about your current firewall it may be time to revisit your security strategy. One solution you should look at is the SonicWall NSa series.

We’ve recently introduced several new models for mid-sized networks and distributed enterprises with remote and branch sites. The new NSa 3650, NSa 4650 and NSa 5650 join the NSa 2650, which SonicWall released last September. All four models deliver the automated real-time breach detection and prevention today’s organizations need.

NSa Series

SonicWall NSa next-generation firewalls now include NSa 3650, 4650 and 5650 offerings.

Here are a few of the key features the NSa series offers:

  • Cloud-based, on-box threat protection – Staying ahead of sophisticated attacks requires a more modern approach that heavily leverages security intelligence in the cloud. NSa series next-generation firewalls integrate two advanced security technologies — our patent-pending Real-Time Deep Memory InspectionTM and patented Reassembly-Free Deep Packet Inspection‚ which deliver cloud-based, on-box threat protection.
  • High connection count – The NSa series enables a very high number of deep packet inspection (DPI) and deep packet inspection of TLS/SSL-encrypted (DPI-SSL) connections.
  • High port density – The NSa series provides high port density, ranging from 20 physical ports on the NSa 2650 up to 28 on the NSa This high port density enables more devices to connect directly to the firewall without the need for a switch.
  • 5-GbE ports – NSa series firewalls include multiple 2.5-GbE interfaces, an industry first for firewalls. The 2.5-GbE interfaces enable faster wired throughput speeds while also supporting the requirements for 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless access points including the SonicWall SonicWave series of 802.11ac Wave 2 indoor and outdoor access points.
  • 10-GbE ports – NSa series firewalls (except NSa 2650) also include multiple 10-GbE interfaces to support faster data rates for the delivery of bandwidth-intensive applications over longer distances.
  • Onboard storage – Each NSa series firewall includes a pre-populated storage module ranging from 16 GB on the NSa 2650 up to 64 GB on the NSa The storage enables support for various features including logging, reporting, last signature update, backup and restore and more.

Even if you answered “Yes” to some or all of the questions, it’s still a good idea to see if you’re getting the most from your firewall. Learn more about the SonicWall NSa series, and how you can get high-speed wired and wireless security across all your connections, encrypted and unencrypted.