Category: Service Improvements

Self-Service Firewall

I am pleased to confirm that the self-service firewall is now live and users can access this by using their SafetyNet credentials. While access must be turned on by HfL, if you previously had access to the Connectivity area of Safetynet (to make or view DNS records), you will be able to access the self-service firewall in read only mode.

I would encourage all schools, particularly secondary schools, to have read only access. If you want the full read and write access, I will need the Head Teacher to authorise this. Please note that if you want the ability to make DNS changes, this will also give you access to make firewall changes. If you have previously had full access to the DNS platform, you will find that it is now on read only access. As explained above, access is easily reactivated once authorised by the Head Teacher.

Having read only access to the firewall will help keep schools on top of what access is in place. Some schools will have legacy firewall rules that will need tidying up or even removed. Seeing what access is in place can also assist when troubleshooting issues.

This is version 1 and there is a list of roadmap development ideas. So certain firewall requirements will still need to be logged as a change request with HfL, and the RM staff with Fortigate access will then be able to create these for you.

I am happy to carry out some training with you. Depending on numbers, I will either do this on a one-to-one basis or possibly larger groups. If you’re interested in this or you have any further queries, please get in touch with me.

A basic training guide will be added to this site in due course. RM have also added some support documents within SafetyNet.

Thanks,

Kevin Crawley
kevin.crawley@hertsforlearning.co.uk

HfL Broadband

I am sure many of you are aware that HfL Broadband has replaced our previous HICS service. I have been intending to update you on the renewal numbers for a while now – but the last few months have been very busy. No doubt the vast majority of you are also feeling the pressure in these unprecedented times!

Up to September 30th 2020, 508 schools were contracted to receive their broadband provision through HfL. We are pleased to say that only 49 of these schools did not renew through us. It’s an extremely competitive market and we are delighted with the renewals numbers. We also had two schools who left us three years ago, decide to re-join.

There were lots of different reasons these schools left our provision: schools closing, infants and junior schools merging and only needed the one connection, schools joining out of county provisions and of course others just wishing to contract elsewhere. We wish all of these schools the best in their new scenarios.

There are 150 schools that are increasing their internet speed either by installing a different type of internet circuit or by increasing their bandwidth on their existing infrastructure. As I am sure that you can imagine there are currently lots of challenges associated to the work that is required and we will be working closely with RM to make sure that this is as problem free as possible.

We would like to extend our thanks to RM, and of course to all schools and I.T. support companies who have worked with us, particularly in the challenging circumstances due to the pandemic. We value your custom and look forward to working closely with you during the new three year contract. If you have questions or need advice, please contact us on either help@sd.hertsforlearning.co.uk or by phoning 01438 844777.

Stay safe!

Kevin Crawley

SSL Connect (VPN) Service Improvements

Following on from our communication yesterday, we have been in discussions with RM to identify how we can jointly support you as effectively as possible for the use of VPN

Within the next 24 hours the following changes will take place:

·         All schools will each be upgraded from 10 concurrent sessions to 50

·         The HICS network was previously capped at 500 concurrent connections.  Burst capacity will be enabled for up to 2500 connections

·         The duration of user connections timing out when they are inactive has been reduced to 10 minutes.  This will reduce the amount of connections which are left dormant, making them available for others to use.

We hope this will drastically improve the effectiveness of the service during this difficult period of time and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Self Service DNS

In the coming days new functionality will be turned on and RM SafetyNet admin users will be able to make DNS changes, as well as filtering changes.  We are of course still more than happy to do this for you, if you’d prefer. However, HICS schools will have the option to make DNS changes locally rather than having to log tickets with our Service Desk.

I have put together this quick guide showing you how to do edit/create DNS records whilst logged into RM SafetyNet;  Self Service DNS in Herts.doc

If you have any queries relating to this, please get in touch with either myself or the Service Desk.

Thanks,

Kevin Crawley

Transparent filtering on your 172.* network

We are pleased to announce that new functionality is available whereby transparent filtering can now be deployed on your 172.* network. Schools will not see any additional charges for this new functionality.

Further details can be found here:

https://hics.hertsforlearning.co.uk/filtering/transparent-filtering-on-your-172-network/

New NAT IP address range

Collectively we have exhausted the subnet  that RM have previously set aside for NATs: 185.192.228.0/22.  RM have now provided us with this additional range: 62.171.224.0/22.

Please note that these IPs will only be used by RM when creating firewall rules on behalf of HICS schools – and not for their ‘core customers’. Further information can be found here: https://hics.hertsforlearning.co.uk/ip-addresses/public-facing-ip-addresses/

Thanks for your ongoing support and if I do not post again before Christmas, I hope you all have nice break.

Regards,

The HICS Team