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Case Study

Cambridgeshire County Council Eases Secure File Transfer for 4000 Users

Cambridgeshire County Council Adopts MOVEit® to manage fast, secure, simple, audited transfers of confidential data files.

Cambridgeshire County Council is the UK local government authority responsible for administering 60 electoral divisions in the county of Cambridgeshire. The council comprises five districts represented by a total of 69 elected councilors. The council works in partnership with other public services in the area, including the police and NHS, and is connected with other regional councils.

The Challenge

Prior to acquiring a managed file transfer solution, council users would transfer data between public sector organizations either via the Government Connect Gateway or a generic FTP solution, however many employees regarded this as ‘clunky’, inefficient, and awkward to use. Users also noted there was no way of sharing sensitive information for instance health care, social care or child care data with third parties such as emergency services or housing associations - which was a frequent requirement. There were also additional issues reported around control, efficiency and security as before implementing MOVEit, members would send files exceeding 10GB on encrypted CDs via courier services which proved to be complicated, time consuming and costly.

Alan Shields is the IT architect team manager within Cambridgeshire County Council. His job is to identify business challenges and identify new products the council might use to solve problems and fulfill its functions more effectively. His team of eight specialists looks after as many as 200 sites across the council’s shared service network.

“Awareness of security has increased significantly, and we always have to consider best practices, educating users, and our shared responsibility for maintaining the privacy of the data we handle. We could be sharing information about an elderly member of the community’s care package, or perhaps a child's educational record. We handle varied but equally confidential information that always demands our close attention to privacy and security over and above any standard email protection precautions," said Shields.

The council required a secure managed file transfer solution that would:

  • Quickly and simply be adopted as the go-to solution for secure file transfers with third-parties
  • Prevent any leak of commercially sensitive or confidential public information, such as financial deals with suppliers, or records pertaining to institutions such as care homes, educational establishments, or prisons
  • Require little or no user training and provide an easy learning curve to full adoption
  • Ensure complete visibility for files moving between the council and third-parties
  • Meet any regulatory guidelines set by the Information Commissioner’s Office
  • Enable a more efficient ad-hoc route for the general sharing of large or numerous files

The Vision

For Cambridgeshire County Council data protection is always paramount, but speed, flexibility, ease-of-use and value were also pressing concerns. Losing public trust or incurring fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office by not implementing the best possible solution was out of the question.

Local authorities are used to dealing with a range of private data, including commercially sensitive information (from large suppliers) and citizen’s personally identifiable information (such as health and social care details or child care records). With third parties playing an increasingly important role in how local governments deliver services, there is a pressing need to ensure the complete privacy of information that should never become part of the public domain.

The pressures of the public sector are well understood – limited budgets, strained resources and a necessity to prove the value of any significant investment. Regardless, Cambridgeshire needed to instill the high-level of controls expected by central government, while equipping users with the necessary tools to mitigate risks of data leaks without hampering productivity.

Mark Holman, Cambridge Public Services Network (CPSN) architect for Cambridgeshire County Council and the wider CPSN partnership said: “The major challenge was to find a way to protect and share our top-tier data with other stakeholders, whether that meant with the police, social services or another council. But we also needed a system we could trust, that users would be keen to adopt, and which would give us the confidence to transfer large files or sensitive data quickly, easily, and in a totally secure and traceable manner.”

The Solution

Following thorough evaluation of a number of software applications, Shields and his team decided that Ipswitch File Transfer’s combination of functionality and ease-of-use made MOVEit particularly attractive. MOVEit was not only very effective, it demanded limited training for users and promised to be simple to integrate with existing infrastructure, such as Microsoft Outlook. The solution was recommended and implemented by Ipswitch File Transfer implementation Elite Partner Pro2col, which continues to support Cambridgeshire County Council.

The council worked with Pro2col to get the system up and running in just a couple of days. Pro2col ensured that MOVEit hooked up seamlessly with Microsoft Active Directory and stayed on hand to answer any questions along the way. MOVEit secure managed file transfer solution now enables the council to reliably and securely share files and transfer sensitive files across the region. With a breadth of security protocols, including HTTPS, FTPS, SFTP and AS2, MOVEit is also trusted by thousands of other organizations, including other UK public sector bodies such as National House Building Council. Holman said: “We were first attracted by the clean look and feel of the MOVEit system. We evaluated a number of products on the market but Ipswitch File Transfer had the best fit for us and delivered everything we wanted it to do. The web interface proved simple for our users to grasp quickly with no training, and the price was also very attractive. I frequently use it myself to transfer sensitive data such as policy changes with our network partners.”

Cambridgeshire uses MOVEit in three ways. The first is to transfer information to third-parties that it cannot securely connect to using existing government gateways. This might be a report concerning a member of the public, or a contractual negotiation with a supplier. Secondly, MOVEit can be used by anyone wishing to send information to the council. Similar to a ‘self-addressed envelope’, a council user simply sends an empty package to the third-party, in which they can place their documentation before pushing it back securely. Finally, because users often prefer MOVEit to email, it is used for the simple and rapid transfers of very large or numerous files to suppliers.

User feedback to date has been very positive, with the common opinion that because MOVEit uses a friendly portal with clear directions, it was very much like signing up to a new consumer services, such as Gmail or Yahoo!. The majority of users were immediately happy with the system with just a small pamphlet of instructions, and barely any support has been necessary.

The Future

Ipswitch File Transfer’s MOVEit now operates as a reliable and secure hub, responsible for the transfer of the council's sensitive data files. With its broad protocol support, the MOVEit server connects with any system, server or client. MOVEit gives technical teams the visibility and control they need to confidently meet compliance requirements and public responsibilities, and is a friendly tool for users to get to grips with.

Holman said: “MOVEit was very easy to install, there have been no issues with its operation, users just seem to get on with it, and we have been able to forget about any issues and just enjoy the peace of mind.”

“The bottom line is that the council now has up to 4,000 users who are able to send more data more securely. We can send large files that would normally be blocked by an average email system, and we have complete audit trails for everything. Previously we had no real control, and the only secure alternative for multiple files of 10GB and above was a complex, lengthy and expensive combination of couriers and encrypted CDs.”

The council has expanded its MOVEit module footprint over the past two years, and recently upgraded to the latest MOVEit 8.

Pro2col ensured that the implementation was swift and within Cambridgeshire’s budget. “We didn't have any issues with installation and the solution only took two business days to implement. Pro2col were efficient, they were on hand to answer any questions we had and met our requirements within the budget and the time frame.” said Holman. It supported the council both in the initial work and with its latest upgrade plans. Shields and his team are now looking at further automation, as well as mobile file transfers from Android and iOS devices. They are also discussing file sharing practices with Northampton County Council, as well as expanding the shared network of district councils and emergency services. In the future the council hopes to investigate multi-tenancy for shared partnerships, and perhaps even individual branding for each stakeholder portal.

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