Liverpool Charity takes back control of its data protection

09 September 2022

Scott Davis who heads up Nugent’s ICT Team, explains why they decided to invest in new security defences after becoming a victim to a cyberattack

Nugent is a charity started by Father Nugent in 1881, today it is the oldest and largest education, health and social care charity in Liverpool. Nugent offers a diverse range of support to children, young people, families and adults who are vulnerable or at risk within the northwest of England, through its schools, care homes, community and social work services. Nugent’s Community Services include support for Deaf people and those who are hard of hearing or have learning disabilities, the charity also runs a registered and approved voluntary adoption agency, Nugent Adoption

For some 10 years Nugent had relied on an MPLS solution with co-located firewalls in a data centre to support around 20 different services. When I arrived at Nugent, I set about linking these services together via two co-located data centres, protected by hardware firewalls. But in 2019, Nugent suffered a cyber attack that wiped out pretty much the entire infrastructure. It was every IT professional’s worst nightmare, but we worked long hours to restore the network and systems. It took several weeks to get critical services back up and running, after which prioritisation was to audit current IS and look to build a five-year strategy.

It was also the opportunity to make a step change. We decided to take back in-house control of our network and firewall infrastructure and move away from expensive leased lines by moving to cloud services, with segregation and full visibility of the data traffic and what is going on across our networks in real time - and importantly, secure our data from future cyber attacks. We also wanted to have multiple internet connections to segregate voice and data services and be able to implement SDWAN policies, for example.

Our experience of the cyber-attack was a tipping point and provided the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. After extensive review and due diligence, we made the decision to go down the WatchGuard route and invested in a range of its Firebox devices managed via WatchGuard Cloud. This provides the essential single pane of glass and visibility that we wanted and helps to shape traffic and do quality service analysis and management. As I split my time between working at home or visiting sites, having 24x7, anywhere access is a major bonus.

Like any charity, Nugent holds a lot of sensitive information, so data protection and GDPR compliance are paramount. With separate firewalls, we can make sure all the services and traffic are segregated. After going through the experience of being the victim of a cyber attack, Nugent is now in a far stronger position to face future threats and we are benefiting from taking back control with complete visibility into what is going on in our networks.

Caring, educating, protecting and inspiring those in need, since 1881.