Protecting Ontario’s Education System

Protecting Ontario’s Education System

The Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) supports a population similar to the size of a small town. Its 50,000 students are educated and supported by more than 6,000 employees. The important work of education takes place at 109 schools and learning centres situated across 4,800 square kilometres. One of Ontario’s largest public education systems, the board plays a fundamental role in supporting the growth of students, the vital work of teachers, and the well-being and economic development of communities.

The SCDSB — along with many other school boards and education, research and health-care organizations across Ontario — benefits from a range of connectivity and cybersecurity services provided by ORION. With more and more educational institutions across Canada facing data breaches, ORION has begun providing crucial security services and guidance to its constituents.

The SCDSB enables students, parents and staff to securely access its websites, applications, school email addresses and other key services through a domain name server, or DNS. But what happens when a computer network’s security system is compromised? In the past, the SCDSB found itself grappling with the problem of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks — cyber assaults that flooded its DNS with illegitimate web traffic, hampering the board’s operations. The board is just one of many organizations that have been afflicted by this growing trend: experts say more than 400,000 DDoS attacks occur worldwide each month, overwhelming IT staff, disrupting essential services and creating financial losses.

“DDoS attacks have been a problem for a number of years, and public institutions have often been a target,” says Andrew Fraser, director of sales and support at the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). “Our partnership with ORION allows us to provide improved DDoS protection for education institutions connected to ORION’s world-class fibre optic network.”

Andrew Fraser, Director of Sales and Support, Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA)

The SCDSB’s digital security woes took a major turn for the better in 2015 when ORION began offering its constituents CIRA’s D-Zone Anycast DNS service. This service improves external DNS resolution and up-time, and provides access to a robust global DNS that is resistant to DDoS attacks. By replacing one server with the aggregate bandwidth of a cloud of DNS servers, it has the capacity to isolate and contain attacks and allow queries from legitimate users. At the same time, Anycast DNS improves the performance of organizations’ internet architecture by lowering web page load times.

The partnership between ORION and CIRA means that the SCDSB, and many other organizations like it, has a digital system it can trust to power classrooms, facilitate learning and strengthen communities.