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Cyber IT Solutions takes desktop security from prisons to the enterprise

By Sara Barker
Wed 28 Jun 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

A Melbourne-based IT company that previously developed cybersecurity solutions for prisons and correctional facilities has expanded its solution to the wider market.

According to a statement from the company, it had been working with the Victorian Department of Justice for many years when they encountered a challenge: some prisoners had a court-mandated need for access to computers. The result was PrisonPC, created by Cyber IT Solutions.

The company states that unlike normal offices, inmates sit in front of their computers every day, year after year. There are many opportunities for criminals to find weaknesses in systems. In these cases, the threats are inside the systems themselves.

The problem was, no ordinary desktop solution was secure enough for prison use, especially when contraband - whether physical or digital - was strongly prohibited. The result was Prison PC, which is now implemented across Australia.

The desktop software is currently being used in the likes of the Alexander Maconochie Centre, part of ACT's Corrective Services.

Cyber IT Solutions has been providing security in prisons for more than 12 years through a full desktop environment that includes standard applications such as browsers, but also protection from phishing, desktop modification, unapproved software installation, email malware attacks, data exfiltration or infiltration through the internet or USB sticks, false logins and inappropriate access and more.

It is also able to prohibit boots of unauthorised operating systems from local media and storage.

"No users are more hostile to desktop computer security than inmates in prison," said Ron Fabre, PrisonPC chief architect and product manager.

The company is now extending the reach of its PrisonPC platform to general organisations because there is a need for hardened desktops with a full desktop experience. "As part of this understanding, we believe there are industry sectors that have to treat the users of their organisation's computer systems as unwittingly hostile actors. Internal users are often the main points through which malware, phishing and related attacks infiltrate the organisation's realms, through which data gets encrypted (via ransomware) and through which data gets exfiltrated in what is essentially industrial espionage," the company states.

The company is now working with partners in the commercial IT sector, construction and engineering sectors; and also has specific programs for resellers.

"They have the time and direct access to these computers in their cells and will attempt all manner of break-in methods. The hardening and re-architecting that is necessary on a general purpose desktop computer to enable it to function as intended for such an environment makes that solution viable for other specialist high-security needs," Fabre concludes.

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