IT security and data protection firm Sophos has announced that through its UK Partner of the Year Foursys it is providing IT security solutions to a number of NHS trusts in the North West area via The North Mersey Health Informatics Service (HIS). As a result of this relationship alone, Sophos solutions are now securing more than 11,000 NHS Trust devices in the area, ranging from clinical machines to endpoints and mobile devices used to access confidential patient data.
North Mersey HIS is an NHS shared service providing information, management and technology (IM&T) services to NHS Trusts including; Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Trust; Liverpool Primary Care Trust; Mersey Care NHS Trust; Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Univeristy Hospitals; Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust; Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust;NHS Sefton and The Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery NHS Trust.
In May 2011, the NHS England Enterprise Agreement (NHS EA) that saw Microsoft providing endpoint security technology to the NHS, came to an end. As a result, North Mersey HIS sought an alternative both to the incumbent 'Microsoft Forefront' security solution which was in place at a number of the Trusts supported by the HIS, and McAfee EPO at another of the Trusts in the area.
"We were at a crossroads where cost-cutting financial pressures had to be balanced with the logistics of deploying a whole new security solution across thousands of endpoints," said Steven Parker, Technical Architecture Manager at North Mersey HIS. "The QIPP (Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention) agenda that is currently being pushed through the NHS means that we must demonstrate efficiency savings, while obviously not letting this affect the security of our systems. After considering a range of options, Sophos came out on top, not only in terms of cost efficiency the broad functionality in Sophos's solution has allowed us to consolidate our security products, removing additional point products that were no longer necessary but also, with the aid of Foursys professional services, for ease and speed of deployment. The real bonus is that we've actually improved our anti-virus solution at the endpoint but also achieved a cost saving."
The central console of Sophos's endpoint solution has enabled North Mersey HIS to centrally manage a switch-over in the majority of the sites they manage. Using Foursys and a special existing-client removal tool they were able to install Sophos endpoint protection on thousands of desktops with minimal administrative overheads.
"Although a displacement scenario might initially appear to be better value on the face of it, a project can quickly go over budget if technical problems arise. We were able to work with Sophos and NM HIS to ensure the process was quick and easy," said Paul Prior, MD of Foursys, the partner involved in the deal. "All our feedback from Sophos customers is that deployments are very simple and easy to oversee, adding to the overall value of an install."
In addition to Sophos Endpoint Security and Data Protection, other Sophos products in use across the NHS Trusts supported by North Mersey HIS include Sophos PureMessage for Microsoft Exchange part of Email Security and Data Protection which blocks email-borne spam, viruses, spyware and phishing attacks, as well as Sophos Email Security and Data Protection, which is used to encrypt email communications, crucial in an NHS environment.
Another aspect of the Sophos endpoint client which is proving really useful in a PCT environment is the ability to set policies on which applications users can install and run as well as improving security this also improves the user experience, reduces IT support calls and improves network continuity.
"Public sector, and healthcare in particular, is extremely challenging in terms of data protection and regulations. When you add the recent requirements to mitigate costs, there is a lot of pressure on the NHS, with zero room for error," said Jonathan Lee, Healthcare Sector Manager at Sophos. "Sophos protects over 600,000 machines across the NHS and our solutions are designed to make security simpler as a way to alleviate some of this pressure on IT departments."