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Integrated Security Lowers Costs and Increases Security for the Alberta Urban Municipality Union

Municipalities face a range of issues – declining infrastructure, rising housing costs, and the need for resilience planning, especially in the face of a pandemic. Now, cities are becoming an attractive target for ransomware attacks.
The conflicting demands can make it challenging for municipalities to allocate funds for network security improvements. In Alberta, a municipal association has found a solution by providing Fortinet enterprise-level security as a service to its members.

starting from home
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) supports 85 percent of the province's residents by providing municipalities and community organizations with access to solutions-based advocacy and innovative professional services.

During an internal vulnerability assessment, AUMA determined that the organization was at risk of cyber attacks. Its core infrastructure systems were from three different vendors, making it difficult to handle security incidents across the network. The association administers insurance and employee benefits for its members, so data privacy is a top concern. Revealing their potential vulnerabilities required the AUMA IT team to fully understand what data they had and where it was being stored and accessed. Using multiple vendors it will never be possible to get a clear view of the entire technology stack.

To overcome the barriers caused by different vendors, AUMA's IT team decided on a more integrated approach by integrating their firewalls and networks with Fortinet Security Fabric. AUMA designed a security-driven networking strategy with the FortiGate firewall to secure its wide-area network (WAN) edge and local-area network (LAN) edge. To ensure the seamless visibility required for the association, they went with the FortiSwitch Secure Access Switch and the FortiAP Access Point, which helped provide secure wireless connectivity.

The combination of Fortinet's integrated network edge protection and secure access provides AUMA with end-to-end network visibility, multi-layer detection and instant response capabilities. Previously, if a problem was detected with AUMA's legacy endpoint solution, it would take at least half a day to fix. Now, Stratajam, AUMA's new managed service provider, can take immediate action against threats to the network, providing peace of mind.

impact on the bottom line
In addition to improving response times, AUMA leverages its investment in Fortinet's Security Fabric platform to reduce its operating costs. As demand falls, the entire technology stack can be managed through a single console, resulting in 43 percent lower support costs.

AUMA also added Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) capabilities. With SIEM, they were able to combine threat information from the system into actionable intelligence. A cloud-based implementation of FortiSIEM enables information flow from the Fortinet security solution and its server logs, network management tools, Azure and web server logs.

Then, FortiSIEM correlates the information and evaluates it against indicators of compromise, filtering millions of data points into a handful of events. A cloud-based FortiEDR solution that protects endpoints before and after infection has replaced older solutions. By integrating FortiEDR with FortiSIEM, an endpoint security solution can automatically run playbooks that prevent data breaches and tampering as soon as they are detected.

New Value Added Service, New Revenue Stream
The FortiSIEM and FortiEDR cloud solutions work so well for AUMA, they have partnered with Stratagem to expand the managed version of each solution as a service to their members. By operating through a cloud-based, managed "security as a service" approach, AUMA can provide cities and towns with enterprise-class solutions at a reasonable cost. Through a revenue-sharing arrangement with Stratagem, the organization now provides a vendor-neutral threat risk assessment in addition to managed FortiSIEM and FortiEDR services. Now, AUMA has a managed technology services business unit and expects five figures in new revenue and more growth potential in the coming years.

Alberta's communities can only benefit from these value-added services, making network security less of a concern in a world full of risks and challenges.

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