Whyalla Council rolls out laptops, security

When South Australia's Whyalla Council decided to overhaul its computer network and introduce laptops to elected members, manager of information services David Poyner decided to kill two birds with one stone by implementing a security suite to protect the new network.

In accordance with the State Records Act of 1997, the council is required is required to retain all correspondence which elected members send. However, Whyalla Council members were using home PCs and personal e-mail accounts to receive and store e-mails, which is outside the provisions of the Act.

With the last upgrade of its computer network in 2000, Whyalla Council decided it was time for a new solution that not only addressed the mobility and storage needs of its elected members, but also the need for a network monitoring system that could track server upgrades and identify security vulnerabilities.

So the council opted for a new computer network that introduced laptops for councillors on-the-go, as well as server monitor applications that would assist Poyner to keep software upgrades and patches up to date.

"There are many councils throughout Australia which have implemented similar laptop solutions, but not many have coupled it with a network system that keeps tabs on the whole gamut of operations," Poyner said.

The council has acquired 96 HP desktops, 24 Toshiba laptops and five HP servers.

The laptops will be supplied to council members along with subsidies for ADSL connections so correspondence and agendas can be received and stored in accordance with the State Records Act of 1997.

"It's a huge investment and the biggest IT upgrade undertaken by the council," Poyner said. "It's critical that the network is regularly updated and protected from virus and spyware attacks," he said.

In 2003, when searching for a solution to the council's redundant fax remittance system, Poyner came across the Windows-based GFi FAXmaker, a server that redirects faxes and SMS to users' mailboxes.

Satisfied with the service and ease of use, and needing network security software, Poyner moved onto GFi's spam and virus filters for employees' e-mail clients.

"Mail-related viruses were a big problem, but now the staff no longer has to wade through 30 e-mails every morning trying to sell them penis enlargers or Viagra," he said.

Two years on and Whyalla Council has adopted the entire suite of GFi security applications and is ready to roll them out across the new network.

"It was as simple as finding them on the Net and giving them a go," said Poyner. "GFi provided a good service and as we've needed new solutions it's really just kept snowballing along."

All the GFi products run behind the scenes and have so far functioned without major problems, Poyner said.

GFi regional manager ANZ, Michael Early was delighted with the success of the GFi range implementation into Whyalla Council's operations.

"Lots of councils have used a number of our products, but Whyalla is one of the few to use them all," he said.

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