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Chatham House

Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute based in London. A world-renowned think tank, the organisation attracts thousands of individuals to private and public events - conferences, workshops and roundtables every year.

In addition to its research, analysis and events schedule, Chatham House also houses a library of its publications including reports, papers and books which are a vital resource for leaders and policy makers in government, the private sector and civil society.

Paul Curtin, Finance and Operations Director at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, outlines the situation that the Institute found itself in. “Although we are a relatively small organisation, we have a global profile. The research we conduct means that we have regular contact with multiple levels of government as well as high visibility in the media. In other words, we could be a target for cyber-attacks and for this reason security has always been of the upmost importance.”

The Institute has more than 150 staff and over 100 associates accessing its network on a regular basis. However, it also needs to allow access to visitors that use the Chatham House facilities. A lot of these visitors that include members, world leaders, policy makers and private sector professionals can and do bring their own IT equipment.

“The Institute holds a lot of sensitive data and we wanted to add an extra layer of security on the network to protect this information from the potential threat of an internal breach,” continues Curtin. Having had a close working relationship with SDT for several years, we approached them for a recommendation on how we could ensure that all of our sensitive data remains secure. They suggested that we consider implementing a Network Access Control (NAC) solution to control access to the network by external devices.”

The Solution

SDT recommended a Macmon Network Access Control solution for Chatham House. “Network Access Control is still a fairly new technology and many of the solutions available from security vendors are more geared to larger organisations,” comments Andrew Wayman, Managing Director at SDT Limited. “Not only that but competitive solutions that we have investigated in the past are notoriously complex to install and costs are considerably higher. Macmon on the other hand is one of the few vendors that have shown an interest in the lower end of the market, offering a robust and flexible solution at a competitive price point.”

The Macmon NAC solution gives Chatham House the ability to clearly separate the public and non-public areas of the network from one another. The first "line of defence" prevents access by unknown devices. Devices that are permitted to be part of the network must authenticate themselves. The second "line of defence" provides protection against attacks on network components and addresses manipulation and thus prevents eavesdropping attacks on the data traffic or the internal resources.

Devices that attempt to connect to the Chatham House network are identified by their unique MAC addresses. As well as seeing desktops and laptops, the NAC solution can also see mobile users and peripheral devices such as printers. “Another advantage of the Macmon system is that it is vendor-agnostic working with any SNMP capable switch. It also scales easily so it can comfortably support new infrastructure devices and network growth,” continues Wayman.

"The Macmon solution was swift to deploy and integrated seamlessly with our existing security solutions."

“The Macmon solution was swift to deploy and integrated seamlessly with our existing security solutions,” remarks Curtin. SDT worked closely with Chatham House to configure the management console and define permissions for the various categories of user including staff, members and visitors. Any new MAC addresses identified on the network are deemed as unauthorised and the policies defined are used to determine what access level they should have, if any.

The Results

“Together, Macmon and SDT has provided us with an affordable network access control solution that gives us complete confidence that external devices cannot access the Chatham House network without meeting the necessary security policies and that any devices granted access are monitored continuously, reducing our risk of being compromised,” states Curtin. “In addition to the reassurance that Macmon provides, we know that the solution will be well supported by SDT, who continue to support us with around the clock IT support and excellent advice.”

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About Chatham House

Founded in 1920, Chatham House engages governments, the private sector, civil society and its members in open debate and confidential discussion on the most significant developments in international affairs.

Each year, the institute runs more than 300 private and public events – conferences, workshops and roundtables – in London and internationally with partners. Its convening power attracts world leaders and the best analysts in their respective fields from across the globe.

Chatham House consistently ranks highly in the University of Pennsylvania’s annual Global Go To Think Tank Index, where it has been assessed by its peers as the No. 1 think-tank outside the US for nine consecutive years and was ranked Think Tank of the Year in the survey published in January 2017. www.chathamhouse.org