Al Wahada Private School, Sharjah, UAE
Cyberoam: an Ideal Solution in Educational Environment
Al Wahada Private School, Sharjah, Education

Al Wahada Private School (AWPS) situated in Sharjah, UAE is committed to quwality educational principles aimed at building up students' academic interests, moral values, creativity, behavior and health.

Primary requirement is the creation of a positive learning environment which motivates students to learn, keep themselves abreast of the modern world changes and play an active role in society, yet preserve their innocence.

“ Cyberoam is an ideal solution for an educational institute with wired or wireless (WiFi/DHCP) networks. It is a fantastic product backed by p r o - a c t i v e Te c h n i c a l Assistance.”

Ms. Samah Assaf
IT Manager

The IT Manager at AWPS, Ms. Samah Assaf outlined the basic requirements saying, “ We have a Wi-Fi network in which our students can access internet from anywhere in the school campus. While students can access Internet over DHCP network, the staff can access it through static IPAddress based network.”

Like any other educational organization, AWPS had a few basic requirements which include:

  • Direct user import andAuthentication support withActive Directory
  • Identity (user and group) based Content Filtering policies over wired and wireless network
  • Individual upload and download quota per user
  • GatewayAnti-Virus
  • Instant Reporting
  • Post-Sales TechnicalAssistance

AWPS wanted all round Internet security in one box to reduce the Total Ownership Cost and maximize returns.

The school authorities decided on a two week Proof of Concept (PoC) of UTM appliances including SonicWALL.

The evaluation of the appliance was unsuccessful due to following reasons:

  • AWSP has more than 300 Internet users. Ms. Assaf found that trying to import the users directly from the Active Directory server was a long and lonely ordeal.She had to search for options hidden deep inside the GUI. Enroute she tried unsuccessfully to get technical assistance. Ultimately she resorted to manual creation of users.

  • Once the users were created, and the Content Filtering rules were to be configured, the manager realized that individual identity based rules were hard to configure. In case she wanted to create a specific content filtering rules for errant students, it was a long and support-less procedure.

  • The solution failed to block Third Party Proxy and Public VPN applications like Hotspot Shield Anonymous VPN. This left gaping holes in the security. With a single click on such applications the security solution was bypassed.

  • There was no On-Appliance reporting in the solution. So Ms.Assaf was forced to rely solely on an extra reporting tool. However she found that she had to wait as long as eight (8) hours before she got her reports. This was by no means proactive security.

  • Whenever Ms. Assaf needed technical assistance, in her own words, “ We were able to take care of majority of the problems, but for the ones that I escalated to SonicWall, frankly I was just kept waiting endlessly. There were instances when the first response took 24 hours. It was extremely frustrating.”

The IT Manager quickly realized that she will have to look for an alternative solution.

The Cyberoam Solution

AWPS approached Muazzam Qazi, the Product Manager at Haris Al Afaq, a Cyberoam distributor in UAE. From his previous experience in the Education Vertical, Muazzam unhesitatingly suggested Cyberoam.

AWPS overcame its initial skepticism of Unified Threat Management solutions and decided to test Cyberoam UTM CR 250i. They deployed Cyberoam in the same scenario gateway mode.

Ms. Assaf was pleasantly surprised when Cyberoam seamlessly integrated into the school network. Cyberoam's Group Import Wizard directly imported the groups from the Active Directory server. Once the users were imported, she was ready to configure identity (user and group) based security policies with a few clicks.

From the firewall page which acted like a converging page for all the security features, she found that she could directly configure security policies using Identity (user and group), IP Address, Service and Schedule. Using these multiple decision parameters, Ms. Assaf was able to configure policies in Firewall, Web Content Filtering and GatewayAnti-Virus.

Cyberoam's Quick Configure & Fire Identity based content filtering approach ensured that the students could surf the internet safely. While gently controlling their online behavior by giving custom messages in case of any policy violation, it gave them freedom to access educational sites. Cyberoam's transparent security fueled the healthy curiosity in the young minds. The content filtering database which is 68 categories strong enriched with millions of URLs, ensured that Third Party proxy or Public VPN applications were inaccessible from the school network.

Category based control over HTTPS websites was a new feature that found very promising as it closed all the security loopholes. While the students at AWPS surfed the Internet, Cyberoam's gateway Anti-Virus scanned the Web and FTP protocols for any possible viruses, Trojans or spyware. While the Anti-Virus ensured that nothing harmful entered the school network from the Internet, the Content Filtering feature ensured that the students did not have access to harmful sites.

Using Cyberoam found that he could configure schedule based “ access rules” . This enabled h to create rules that could control the total time spent by the students on internet. Cyberoam also provided the facility to cap an individual user's Upload and Download limit. Once he used this rule in combination with the schedule based rules, he had fine and granular control over the user's surfing. In words, “ We ensure that our students have the best resources. However it is the administration's responsibility to manage the resources and provide an equal opportunity. We cannot afford that our students are surfing at the cost of other activities. Cyberoam helped us do exactly that.”

Cyberoam has On-Appliance Reporting. had all the reports in a few clicks. Unlike h earlier experience, he did not have to wait for the requisite reports to be first defined, and then go hunting for them. Identity based reporting of Cyberoam is available to h , at a mouse click and in quickly comprehensible formats. On-appliance reporting of Cyberoam did not compromise with its depth or range.

The most appreciated feature of Cyberoam was its Technical Assistance. Cyberoam's Quick Configure & Fire deployment approach ensured that had a hassle free deployment. For any fine-tuning needs, Cyberoam's Network & Security Consultants were just few minutes away. Without actual hand-holding, the Cyberoam engineers gave proactive support that ensured that 's issues were resolved and there was enough knowledge transfer so as to empower h to troubleshoot the issue self.

Using Cyberoam's VPN feature, AWSP academic staff were able to access the school network and work from home. This added significantly to their productivity

Approaching security in an educational environment from productivity point of view, Cyberoam is able to understand the exact need of the vertical and provide appropriate solutions. Rounding the discussion, said, “ Cyberoam is an ideal solution for any educational institute with wired or wireless (Wi-Fi/DHCP) networks. It is a fantastic product backed by pro-active TechnicalAssistance.”