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The E-rate ‘Fear Less’ Technology Infrastructure

As we near the conclusion of the SonicWall E-rate Fear Less video series, you should be gaining more familiarity with E-rate program benefits and what’s required to submit bids to RFPs.

Before you begin that process, it’s important to explore the technology infrastructure (specifically what’s eligible in Category Two) as defined within the E-rate program by Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) and how each relates to the E-rate funding process.

Episode Four: The E-rate Fear Less Technology Infrastructure

On the fourth episode of the E-rate Fear Less series, Holly Davis dives further into the program and reviews other options school districts have in building a secure, future-proof network with the E-rate program.

At a high level, E-rate Category Two technology in three primary pillars. Category Two components are those that relate to cyber security solutions, hardware, software and other services. For more details about E-rate categories, please review the 2018 Eligible Services List (PDF).

Technology Function
Broadband Internal Connections (IC) On-premise solution internally managed; equipment may be owned or leased.
Managed Internal Broadband Services (MIBS) Managed service solution owned, leased or hosted in the cloud.
Basic Maintenance
of Broadband Internal Connections
Support for the IC solution.
Source: 2018 Eligible Services List (PDF)

Episode Archive

E-rate Category 2 technology funding with SonicWall

School and campus networks range in size and manage different types of sensitive data. Mitigating potential weak points in the network — and the data that can be targeted — is no easy task for standard IT teams that haven’t undergone extensive cyber security training.

SonicWall network and cyber security solutions meet the needs of school districts at the highest efficacy — all at price points that fit within K12 budgets.

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 Security as a Service (SECaaS) is an alternative solution for schools that do not have a large capital outlay to invest in a future-proof security solution or a dedicated IT team trained to manage cyber security.

“Security-as-a-Service provides more flexibility,” said Jenna Burros, Director of Business Services, at the Calistoga Joint Unified School District in California. “It is such an improvement to be able to have enough control to differentiate various levels of accessibility.”

Under Burros’ guidance, the California school district upgraded the flexibility and granularity of its existing content-filtering solution, while also keeping costs at minimum — a key obstacle for K12 organizations regardless of E-rate eligibility.

With the most comprehensive channel program in the industry, combined with additional E-rate discounts, SonicWall and its partners are best positioned to meet the needs of K12 customers and help them take full advantage of the funding E-rate provides for securing their networks.

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.

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

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

 

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

The E-rate ‘Fear Less’ Solution

The E-rate program is critical for K12 organizations that lack the funding to procure appropriate technology, such as networking and cyber security solutions (e.g., firewalls, wireless network security, etc.). But understanding the program — as well as confirming your E-rate eligibility — can be daunting.

Episode Three: The E-rate Fear Less Solution

On the third episode of the E-rate Fear Less series, Komplement CEO Holly Davis discusses school eligibility, discounts levels and the competitive bidding process.

E-rate discounts are based on the category of service requested, level of poverty, urban/rural status of the population served and the level of participation of students in the Nation School Lunch Program (NSLP).

  • School districts derive their discount, for purposes of determining their level of poverty, from the total percentage of students eligible for the NSLP in the school district.
  • Libraries derive their discount, for purposes of determining their level of poverty, from the NSLP eligibility percentage of the public-school district in which the main branch of the library is located.
  • Rural discount eligibility is determined at the school district or library system level. If more than 50 percent of the schools in a school district or libraries in a library system are considered rural, the district or system is eligible for the rural discount. Note: Non-instructional facilities (NIFs) are not included in this percentage calculation.

Once eligibility is confirmed, it is very important to understand that the government requires a fair and competitive bidding process. Please contact a SonicWall E-rate expert to help guide your organization through the rules and guidelines of the E-rate process.

Episode Archive

E-rate technology discounts with SonicWall

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

SonicWall network and cyber security solutions meet the needs of school districts at the highest efficacy — all at price points that fit within K12 budgets.

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

With the most comprehensive channel program in the industry, combined with additional E-rate discounts, SonicWall and its partners are best positioned to meet the needs of K12 customers and help them take full advantage of the funding E-rate provides for securing their networks.

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.


Know the E-rate Terminology

The E-rate program is replete of acronyms, form numbers and other unique nomenclature. Learn the key terms to successfully guide your K12 organization through the E-rate process.

VIEW THE GLOSSARY

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.

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.

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.

SonicWall Named 85th Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Numbering Authority (CNA)

SonicWall has recently been named the 85th Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Numbering Authority (CNA) by the MITRE Corporation, an international not-for-profit security institute.

What does this mean for SonicWall and the cyber security world at large? SonicWall has a new way to contribute to cyber security education and defense. The purpose of the CVE program is to provide a method and consortium for identifying vulnerabilities in a standardized manner.

SonicWall now has the authority to identify unique vulnerabilities within its products by issuing CVE IDs, publicly disclose vulnerabilities that have been newly identified, assign an ID, release vulnerability information without pre-publishing, and notify customers of other product vulnerabilities within the CNA’s program.

“This program takes us one step closer to reaching the transparency security administrators need in order to make swift and educated decisions when it comes to threat protection,” said SonicWall Chief Operating Officer Atul Dhablania in an official announcement. “SonicWall looks forward to working with MITRE in a collaborative effort to expand the arsenal of information needed to properly equip those who are being targeted or looking to strengthen their security posture.”

On a larger scale, the program is effective because an entire network of certified organizations works together, with the backing of numerous researchers and support personnel, to identify and stay ahead of emerging threats.

CVE Numbering Authorities (CNAs) are organizations that operate under the auspices of the CVE program to assign new CVE IDs to emerging vulnerabilities that affect devices and products within their scope.

The program is voluntary but the benefits are substantial, among them the opportunity to disclose a vulnerability with an already assigned CVE ID, the ability to control disclosure of vulnerability info without pre-publishing, and the notification of vulnerabilities for products within a CNAs scope by researchers who request a CVE ID from the CNA.

Becoming a part of the CVE program is a chance to not only connect to a vast network of organizations working to identify cyber threats, but also to contribute to the effort as a whole.

An Explanation of E-rate: How to Cost-Effectively Protect K12 Networks

Networks security is often too focused on traditional business. But there are more than 100,000 K12 campuses in the U.S. alone. Each have similar security challenges as the standard enterprise or business, but its users (i.e., most commonly students) require more careful and dedicated protection.

Video 1: An Explanation of E-Rate

To help K12 organizations and technology partners better understand opportunities provided by the E-rate program, SonicWall E-rate and cyber security experts explain the history of the program, its importance to K12 organizations, discount levels, and eligible technologies and solutions.

K12 At A Glance

  • 104,000 public K12 schools in the U.S.
  • 55 million public K12 student enrollment
  • Education is the No. 1 target for ransomware attacks
  • Ransomware has hit over 23 percent of educational institutions
  • U.S. K12 spends over $230 million annually on cyber security
  • Maintaining a secure network is one of the top challenges faced by K12 school districts

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.

SonicWall and E-rate

Through its global channel of more than 21,000 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 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.

With the most comprehensive channel program in the industry, combined with additional E-rate discounts, SonicWall and our partners are best positioned to meet the needs of K12 customers and help them take full advantage of the funding E-rate provides for securing their networks.

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.

California School District Amps Up Content Filtering with SonicWall’s Security-as-a-Service

We know how much value SonicWall network security brings to our customers, and we know how much value our partners add when incorporating our solutions into their solutions for our customers.

The case of Calistoga Unified Regional School District is an excellent example.

Calistoga is in California’s Napa Valley. The district has more than 850 students, divided among an elementary school, junior/senior high school and an alternative-program continuation high school for students between the ages of 16 and 18. Administration offices are in a separate building near the junior/senior high school.

The district felt that its existing content-filtering services were not providing all the functionality it needed. Calistoga couldn’t get the flexibility and granular control over content filtering it needed to define different roles and access permissions for students, faculty and staff.

Like all K-12 school districts, Calistoga’s content filtering is there to protect against inappropriate and malicious web content, as well as to control application access.

“Our No. 1 priority is making sure that the students are protected,” says Jenna Burrows, Calistoga’s Director of Business Services.

Regulatory requirements regarding content filtering are also part of the picture. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), is the most directly relevant. Content filtering is also important with regards to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects students’ personally identifiable information (PII) from unauthorized disclosure, and is a requirement for districts to be eligible for discounts through the federal E-rate program.

Faced with a clear need to upgrade their content-filtering capabilities, Calistoga turned to their local managed services provider, Napa Valley Networks (NVN). NVN has been a SonicWall partner for more than 15 years. NVN recommended SonicWall’s Content Filtering Service for Calistoga.

But NVN didn’t stop with content filtering. After an initial audit of Calistoga’s network, they uncovered an issue with the district’s gateway. NVN’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Kyle Lumley, says the existing gateway “didn’t give them the control or feature set that they needed.”

NVN’s recommendation for Calistoga was a SonicWall SuperMassive 9800 next-generation firewall with High Availability capability.

All well and good so far. More granular, customizable content filtering and a new gateway to provide better control for the present, as well as being better able to handle future increases in networked devices and utilization.

Then came the 400-pound gorilla. How could Calistoga afford to pay for these improved capabilities? School districts work under very tight financial constraints.

Fortunately, NVN and SonicWall had a solution.

Calistoga leveraged SonicWall’s Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS). Rather than paying a large amount upfront as a capital expenditure, Calistoga pays a much more manageable monthly fee which fits within its operating budget. Burrows says this is a much more reasonable solution for the district.

Additionally, much of the cost is eligible for discounts through the federal E-rate program.

NVN coordinated the transition to the new gateway and Content Filtering Service. All went well, even in the face of tight deadlines. Calistoga’s happy with the results.

Read the Case Study here.

Innovate More, Fear Less at CETPA 2017 with SonicWall for Your School Network

Recently, the personal information of Palo Alto High School students was published via a website that allowed students to see class rankings, grade-point averages and identification numbers. Is your school network at risk?

Know your best defense against new threats. Join SonicWall at Booth 904 at the 2017 CETPA Annual Conference on Nov. 14-17 in Pasadena, California. With over 3,000 K-12 schools and districts relying on SonicWall next-generation firewalls and real-time automated breach detection and prevention with SonicWall Advanced Threat Protection cloud sandboxing service, we’ll be onsite to share our expertise on the latest threats and best practices to stop cyber attacks.

Can’t-miss highlights include:

  • Solving Real-world Network Security Issues in Today’s K-12 Campus Environment
    • Speaker: Jenna Burrows, Director of Business Services, Calistoga Joint Unified School District.
    • Date & Time: 4 p.m., Nov. 14
    • Location: Room 204
    • Learn how this district, with the help of SonicWall Silver partner Napa Valley Networks, provides over 900 students and staff with secure, uninterrupted network access, protects students from harmful web content and stops hackers from stealing confidential records. We’ll also explore advantages of a managed SonicWall’s Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS) approach to network security.

“It’s really hard for districts, at any point, to have to lay out a large amount of money,” for projects of this type, says Burrows. “It’s just not reasonable. There’s really no value in us purchasing it outright, and then, say, it’s obsolete in a couple years anyway. It makes a lot more sense for us to do it monthly. It (SonicWall Security-As-A-Service) provides more flexibility but it’s also much more reasonable in terms of breaking out the costs, not having to pay a large upfront amount.” said Jenna Burrows, Director of Business Services, Calistoga Joint Unified School District.

  • Vendor Shootout: Capture Advanced Threat Protection Sandbox
    • Presenter: Tim Johnson, System Engineer, SonicWall
    • Date & Time: 8 a.m., Nov. 16
    • Examine and compare the effectiveness of SonicWall’s Capture ATP, a leading cloud sandboxing solutions in preventing zero-day and advanced threats. Following the shootout, discuss your specific needs with our experts at booth 904 in the exhibit hall from 9-4 p.m.
  • SonicWall Live Demos
    • Date & Time: 9-4 p.m.

Throughout the event, we’ll be showcasing the SonicWall Advanced Threat Protection sandbox service, the new SonicOS 6.5, NSA 2650 next-gen firewall, SonicWave Wireless Access Points,  Cloud Analytics and Secure Mobile Access 12.1 with ongoing demonstrations focused on:

  •  Advanced Threats: Watch our award-winning multi-engine sandbox, SonicWall Capture ATP, scan network traffic in the cloud, and block unknown files until our Capture Threat Network reaches a verdict in near real-time.
  • Encrypted Threats: Most web-based malware is hidden by SSL/TLS encryption. Watch our DPI-SSL uncover hidden malicious attacks, block C&C communications and stop data exfiltration.
  • Wireless & Mobile Threats: Wi-Fi and mobile devices present a major security risk for students, faculty and administrators. View our Wireless and Mobile Access solutions, including the new Secure Mobile Access (SMA) 12.1 and SonicWave 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless access points.
  • Email Threats: Email remains a primary vector for attacks, such as ransomware. Discover how our next-gen Email Security solution can block spoofed email attacks with hosted and on-premise configurations.
  • Restricted Web Content: Protect students and employees, and meet K-12 regulatory compliance. Watch our Content Filtering Client block inappropriate, unproductive, illegal and malicious web content on school-issued devices taken off campus.

SonicWall is dedicated to helping K-12 schools and districts innovate more and fear less. Realize the promise of technology-driven learning environments, on campus and over the web.

Join us at the 2017 CETPA Annual Conference, tune in via Twitter #CETPA2017 and follow @SonicWall.

Is Your K-12 Network Ready to Innovate More? Learn How SonicWall Blocks Ransomware and Encrypted Threats at ISTE 2017

Every day our children, teachers and administrators log into the network at school. How can you ensure the data travelling across that network is secure from hidden threats and attacks such as ransomware? With SonicWall next-gen firewalls and DPI SSL inspection technology, IT administrators can find threats hidden in encrypted web traffic that cybercriminals don’t want you to discover across your K-12 network. This week at ISTE 2017, SonicWall will highlight its automated real-time breach prevention solution, how to leverage our SonicWall Security as-a-Service option, and showcase the advantages eRate offers for upgrading network security. Visit us in booth 2357 from June 26-28 at The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Your K-12 school district’s security solution needs to perform with x-ray vision by inspecting encrypted traffic to block and detect ransomware attacks with SonicWall Capture ATP. Over 25 years, SonicWall has been protecting school networks around the world. St. Dominic’s School for Girls is one that has been able to innovate more with SonicWall next-gen firewalls.

“SonicWall NGFW has lived up to its promises. We feel very well protected and have not experienced any security breaches or content filtering issues.” – Harry van der Burgt, IT Manager St Dominic’s School for Girls

Let’s take a look at securing your school’s network traffic.

Over time, HTTPS has replaced HTTP as the means to secure web traffic. Along the way there have been some inflection points that have spurred on this transition such as when Google announced it would enable HTTPS search for all logged-in users who visit google.com. More recently, Google began using HTTPS as a ranking signal. Other vendors including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have also made the switch. If you read articles on the use of Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) encryption the latest numbers typically indicate that a little over 50% of all web traffic is now encrypted and that percentage is expected to continue growing. At SonicWall, data gathered by our Capture Threat Network shows the percentage to be a little higher, around 62%. We found that as web traffic grew throughout 2016, so did SSL/TLS encryption, from 5.3 trillion web connections in 2015 to 7.3 trillion in 2016. Like others, we also expect the use of HTTPS to increase.

Given the growing trend toward HTTPS and its use by hackers to steal information, it makes sense to have a security solution in place that can decrypt and scan SSL/TLS-encrypted traffic for threats. Not every school does, however, especially smaller ones. According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Unified Threat Management (UTM) from August 2016, the research and advisory company estimates that “Less than 10% of SMB organizations decrypt HTTPS on their UTM firewall. This means that 90% of the SMB organizations relying on UTM for web security are blind to the more advanced threats that use HTTPS for transport.”

In his blog titled, “DPI-SSL: What Keeps You Up at Night?” my colleague Paul Leets states, “We must look into encrypted packets to mitigate those threats.” And he’s right. We need to be able to “see” into encrypted traffic in order to identify threats and eliminate them before they get into the network. And it needs to be done in real time. We call this automated breach prevention and it’s what our lineup of next-generation firewalls delivers. To learn more about automated breach prevention and how SonicWall next-generation firewalls decrypt SSL/TLS-encrypted traffic and scan for and eliminate threats without latency, visit the “Encrypted Threats” page on our website.

In addition to uncovering encrypted threats, K-12 schools are risk for ransomware attacks. To help protect school networks against the increasing dangers of advanced persistent threats (APTs), SonicWall Capture will be available to demo at ISTE 2017. This cloud-based sandboxing service – available on both firewalls and email security solutions – scans potentially malicious unknown files until a verdict can be reached. This solution is built on multi-layered sandboxing technologies that use both system emulation and virtualization techniques to detect more threats than competitors’ single engine solutions. Customers immediately benefit from fast response times, high security effectiveness and reduced total cost of ownership.

With the volume of cyber attacks increasing in intensity and sophistication, many of our education customers have taken advantage of SonicWall Security-as-a-Service. Our expertly trained partners deliver SonicWall next-gen firewalls to you, so your school network can benefit from the following:

  • Outsourced network security to an experienced security provider
  • Have your Security as-a-Service solution expertly configured by SonicWall-certified engineers
  • Predictable monthly service fee with no upfront costs
  • Next-gen firewall, gateway anti-malware, intrusion prevention, content filtering and Capture.

SonicWall solutions for education deliver real-time breach prevention along with secure remote access that enables your school district to realize and promise of technologically advanced learning environments. Join the team onsite at the booth 2357 including our partner, Securematics. Do more and Fear Less.

Exertis and SonicWall Pave the Way for KCSiE Guidance and Safer Internet Day

Photo of Blog Author, Dominic Ryles

Note: This is a guest blog by Dominic Ryles, Marketing Manager at Exertis Enterprise, SonicWall’s leading distributor in the United Kingdom. Exertis is committed to providing a range of channel focused services designed to enhance your current technical knowledge and expertise in the areas of IT Security, Unified Communications, Integrated Networks and Specialist Software.


The Internet is forever changing education. Opening up a world of opportunities and transforming how students learn. New technologies inspire children and young people to be creative, communicate and learn, but the Internet has a dark side, making them vulnerable with the potential to expose themselves to danger, knowingly or unknowingly.

On the 5th September 2016, the UK Government through the Department of Education (DfE) updated the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE) guidelines to include a dedicated section for online safety. This means that every school and college will need to consider and review its safeguarding policies and procedures, focusing particularly on how they protect students online. The guidance calls for effective online safeguarding mechanisms with a mandatory requirement for all schools and colleges to have an appropriate filtering and monitoring systems in place, striking a balance between safeguarding and ‘overblocking,’ and being conscious not to create unreasonable restrictions on the use of technology as part of the education process.

When we think of ‘inappropriate material’ on the internet we often think of pornographic images, or even access to illegal sites to download movies and music,  but due to the widespread access to social media and other available platforms, the Internet has become a darker place since it first opened its doors back in 1969. Physical danger from divulging too much personal information, illegal activity such as identity theft and participation in hate or cult websites can lead to cyber bullying, and radicalisation in the modern day school, thus making children and young people vulnerable.

Earlier this year, Exertis, in conjunction with SonicWall, set out on a mission to raise awareness of KCSiE through a series of online and offline activities to the channel. We first put together our comprehensive ‘Appropriate Web Filtering and Monitoring for Schools and Colleges’ guide, which to date has received an overwhelming response from our partner base. The guide provides our reseller partners with all the information they need to understand the statutory changes, and how the SonicWall and Fastvue security solutions can enable educational establishments to become compliant. Towards the latter part of 2016, we registered to support Safer Internet Day (SID) 2017, a day dedicated to raising awareness of online safety for children and young people. Already in its sixth year, Safer Internet Day is run by the UK Safer Internet Centre, a combination of three leading UK organisations: SWGfL, Childnet International and Internet Watch Foundation with one mission – to promote the safe and responsible use of technology for young people. It will be the first year both companies have supported Safer Internet Day and we have been busy raising awareness in our local community. We approached two schools; St Margaret Ward Catholic Academy and The Co-Operative Academy and commissioned them to produce a large canvas painting with the topic ‘What does the internet mean to you?’ Students and teachers from both schools will come together to create two canvas paintings depicting the good and the bad of the internet from their perspective. We have given the schools 4-weeks to complete the art project and will be revisiting both schools on Safer Internet Day, 7th February to meet with the students and teachers behind the project, provide a talk around e-Safety, and with it, hope to raise awareness of children and young becoming safe on the Internet.


About Safer Internet Centre.

The UK Safer Internet Centre are a partnership of three leading organisations: SWGfL, Childnet International and Internet Watch Foundation with one mission – to promote the safe and responsible use of technology for young people. The partnership was appointed by the European Commission as the Safer Internet Centre for the UK in January 2011 and last year reached 2.8 million children. To find out more. Please visit – https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/

About Exertis (UK) Ltd.

Exertis is one of Europe’s largest and fastest growing technology distribution and specialist service providers. We partner with 360 global technology brands and over 28,850 resellers, e-commerce operators and retailers across Europe. Our scale and knowledge, combined with our experience across the technology sector, enables us to continue innovate and deliver market leading services for our partners. To find out more, please visit our website – http://www.exertis.co.uk/

What’s Your E-rate Plan? Three Things to Consider

A few weeks ago one of my sons got a new Chromebook at school. The old one had been around for a few years and was rather outdated in terms of the technology. The new version has a touch screen and can be used as a laptop or tablet. Not exactly new to anyone in the tech world, but for a kid it’s pretty exciting. From the school’s perspective, it was clearly time to replace aging hardware and take advantage of the latest technology innovations for learning. In other words, the school had a plan.

Schools and libraries applying for E-rate funds also need to have a plan. I’m not talking about figuring out who is going to complete and file Form 470 and when it should be submitted. This is about understanding your current network infrastructure and how you will use the funds to build a better, faster version that delivers on new initiatives over the next few years. When you’re building out your plan, here are three things you should consider.

  1. Look ahead three to five years. Considering how fast technology changes, three years will keep you on top of new developments although five years is more practical from a cost perspective. E-rate Category 2 services such as firewalls, routers, switches and access points continue to evolve rapidly with new features and faster speeds. For example, today’s firewalls can block threats such as ransomware that the previous generation can’t, and those legacy firewalls are only a few years old.
  2. Don’t let hardware slow you down. The use of online learning in the classroom continues to grow. So too does the use of bandwidth-intensive apps. When evaluating products that will go into your infrastructure, understand how much of your current capacity is being used. Then buffer that by 20% to 30% to plan for future growth. Just as important, make sure any hardware you look at can handle the increase in bandwidth. Otherwise it can become a bottleneck in the network.
  3. Let someone else manage security for you. Something that schools and libraries may not be aware of is that they can outsource security as a Managed Internal Broadband Service within Category 2. This covers services provided by a third party for the operation, management, and monitoring of eligible broadband internal connections components. The good news with this approach is that you won’t incur any upfront capital expenditures, you typically pay a low monthly subscription fee and you have a predictable annual expense model.

School IT directors are frequently tasked with implementing initiatives that help enhance learning in classrooms and across school districts. Often, however, they have to say “No” due to security risks that opening the network poses. So how can IT become a “Department of YES”? When building your plan, look for E-rate eligible products that support initiatives such as secure access to resources, mobility, moving to the cloud, compliance and others. If the products you’re considering can’t enable these securely, then you don’t want to spend your valuable E-rate dollars on them. To learn more about E-rate and how it can be used to purchase eligible security products for your network, read my earlier blog on the topic.

For some schools building and maintaining a security infrastructure isn’t something they can or want to take on. If that’s case for your school or district, SonicWall Security-as-a-Service may be the answer. We’ll connect you with a SonicWall-certified partner who’s experienced at installing, configuring and managing a network security infrastructure.

To learn more about SonicWall and E-rate, read our white paper titled, “Technical Considerations for K-12 Education Network Security.”