A secure access solutions business has boosted the efficiency of IT operations at an UAE tourist company.
Pulse Secure has improved the security of IT operations at the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), based in Abu Dhabi.
TDIC was created in 2006 as the dedicated tourism asset management and development arm of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority to drive the investment and development of the Emirate’s tourism sector.
The tourist company has been involved in many of the Emirate’s most prestigious projects including The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort and the UAE Pavilion, from the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, that was moved piece by piece to its new permanent home in Abu Dhabi.
Most of the projects handled by TDIC are collaborative efforts that include many international partners. Its IT department had previously struggled with ensuring secure access to both its network and shared resources for TDIC employees and teams from partner organisations.
“We normally have between 800 to 1000 TDIC staff on our network but during major projects we may need to provide IT resources and support for hundreds of additional users such as contractors, architects, project managers and other individuals from our partner community,” saod Muhammad Asad Khalil, Senior Network and Security Engineer for TDIC.
TDIC is under the regulatory supervision and audited by National Electronic Security Authority (NESA), which has implemented the UAE Information Assurance Standards (UAE IAS). This lists 188 security controls in a prioritised approach that must be applied by government bodies and business organisations identified as critical infrastructure.
With pressures to meet the IT requirements of major projects and stringent security controls, TDIC developed processes to ensure that each device attaching to its network is securely vetted along with installing any required software or patches.
“This could lead to delays of several days as we worked through this process especially for people that wanted to use their own devices rather than a TDIC provided laptop,” said Khalil.
As part of a strategic project to strengthen its security posture, meet its UAE IAS commitments and streamline the provisioning of network access to secure device, the IT department at TDIC began evaluating a number of technology platforms.
TDIC has successfully used Pulse Connect Secure appliances and software for its SSL VPN access but wanted to take a deeper look at all the available options.
“We looked at the market and there were a number of point solutions that addressed some of our requirements,” said Khalil.
“However, in our evaluation, it was only Pulse Secure that had a fully integrated solution for both SSL and NAC that offered us the flexibility to design policies and processes that met all of our needs while providing us with a single management console to reduce many of the complex management requirements.”
The new implementation uses a trio of Pulse Secure 5000 series appliances running Pulse Policy Secure Network Admission Control (NAC) software. The platform is integrated with a local certificate authority server (CA) that is used to validate the digital certificate on devices of TDIC employees and authorised partners that connect to the network.
This is then followed by Active Directory authentication support to provide policy driven access to resources across the network. TDIC uses Policy Secure to set up and drive polices that automate the device validation and access rights along with the creation of secure VLAN connections to ensure it meets security best practice as defined by the UAE Information Assurance Standards.
The system also covers peripherals such as printers, scanners, CCTV cameras and other connected systems based on MAC address.
“We now have processes in place, to setup access for new staff and partners, on any type of device, at any location, that are either fully automated or take just a few minutes,” explained Khalil.
“This is a major benefit for our business as we can now take advantage of more flexible working arrangements such as hot desking and better collaboration between our partners without compromising on security.”
The detailed reporting offered by the Pulse Secure platform has also made it easier for TDIC to meet its regular security auditing requirements set under UAE IAS guidelines. TDIC is now looking at expanding the project to provide more granular mobile device management (MDM) capability via the Pulse Secure Pulse Workspace solution.
Abdul Rehman Tariq, MEA Regional Manager for Pulse Secure, said: “The project at TDIC shows how regulatory requirements can be a perfect catalyst for seizing the initiative with transformative approaches to network security that can also provide a major boost to productivity and operational efficiency.”