Stronger IT security approved by supervisors

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors approved another purchase at the Sept. 27 meeting to strengthen the county’s IT infrastructure.
County IT director Sonia Morrison presented the supervisors with a quote from Heartland Business Systems for a new firewall, at a cost of $30,700. Morrison said there are a number of benefits the new firewall will bring to the county that it is not getting from it’s existing software.
“Right now, we have multiple small firewalls at each location. With the new fiber being able to connect the county departments together, this new firewall is larger and more robust and gives us more options and protection. It’s also a Meraki firewall, so it will also work well with the rest of the equipment we’re getting with the cabling and switch upgrades, as those are Meraki equipment as well,” explained Morrison.
Morrison also stressed the importance of having a strong firewall to protect all the users and information.
“It helps with intrusion prevention, and you can completely block off geographical areas. As we all know, with things going on in the world today, there are certain countries we may want to block. This firewall gives us the opportunity to do that, and comes with phishing protection, content filtering, and intrusion detection and prevention. It has a lot of available features that will be a big benefit,” said Morrison.
Morrison had a second quote for a firewall, but that totaled over $36,000, and her recommendation was to proceed with the Heartland Business Solutions quote.
“The company is based out of Urbandale, and they are also providing the equipment we approved at the Sept. 20 meeting. I’ve had glowing reports from other IT directors that have used them,” commented Morrison.
Supervisor Donna Robinson asked how soon the new firewall could be put into place. Morrison said she was waiting to see how soon the fiber lines and new network equipment could be delivered and installed.
“The orders have been placed, but so far, only three switches have been shipped. Once all the equipment is in, I’ll have a better timeline to give the supervisors. Some of the shipping is up in the air on certain pieces as well. It’s the time we’re living in right now.”
The supervisors approved Morrison’s recommendation for the purchase of the new firewall, for $30,700. Morrison was asked what big ticket items remained in upgrading the county’s IT infrastructure. Morrison said there were only a couple of remaining pieces to upgrade.
“The server upgrade is one of the more expensive items. The server upgrade has to happen to bring secondary roads, the emergency management agency, and public health onto everything with us, which the new fiber lines will allow us to do. It also needed upgraded anyway. It’s out of warranty, and we had two audits from outside IT firms, and both audits indicated we needed to make an upgrade. If it goes down, we’re basically dead in the water,” stated Morrison. “By upgrading the server, and increasing the size, we’ll have room to grow. Right now, as it is, we have no room to grow. I can’t add another server to it even if I wanted to. We don’t have the RAM or storage space to accommodate that.”
The other needed upgrade was Microsoft Office 365. Morrison was still getting pricings for those two pieces, and they will be brought before the supervisors for a vote at a future meeting. Morrison said once those upgrades are complete, those will be her last big-ticket item requests for quite a while.

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