Securing business critical operations that help save lives

June 1, 2021

4 min read

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Securing business critical operations that help save lives

The RFDS has a proud history of innovation in providing world-class healthcare to regional, rural and remote parts of the country. A new network security platform is helping ensure the not-for-profit organisation continues to innovate to ensure it remains sustainable well into the future.

Queensland’s leading aeromedical service provider

Providing medical services to Queensland’s most remote and rural communities requires commitment, dedicated professionals and the right technology. Since its inception in 1928, the RFDS has provided aeromedical transfers for emergency and specialist treatment, for those who live, travel and work in regional, rural and remote areas of Queensland.

“In addition to the 24/7 aeromedical retrieval of the critically ill or injured, the RFDS also delivers a broad range of essential primary and preventative healthcare services, including telehealth, mental health, oral health and chronic disease management. RFDS medical crews are flown by our aircraft to rural locations to deliver regular primary health care clinics, while our dental truck, which has its own data centre, also visits remote towns. So, essentially our work ensures Queenslanders have access to healthcare, no matter their location,” says Adam Carey, ICT Operations Manager at RFDS.

Need for a reliable, secure and transparent solution

With remote work and cloud-based application usage increasing, stricter security compliance standards and a need to protect the business data from cyber threats, the RFDS recognised the need for an enterprise-grade internet gateway for their private ambulance network. Some of the key drivers included:

  • Lack of transparency and visibility in setting up and maintaining firewall policies. Any changes in the firewall had to be made by raising requests and validating it manually through a third party, which was time-consuming.
  • Demand for secure and uninterrupted network access for their staff, irrespective of location, to ensure reliability and performance.
  • Cost consideration, which is of particular importance for a not-for-profit organisation with limited IT budget.

“We have had several security concerns which arose over the last two years regarding visibility, control and policy establishment. Having the ability to deploy policies as needed, was crucial. Managing firewall policies internally enables greater efficiency than having to make a request via traditional methods,” says Luke Shaw, Senior Systems and Network Analyst at RFDS.

SecureEdge for a secure network

RFDS (Queensland Section) partnered with Telstra to improve their network approach so

 that higher levels of security and access control could be achieved.

“Telstra is the only partner that can provide us with the connectivity that we need in the outback. We have considered other partners in the past, but they would probably have to rely on Telstra to provide connectivity out there. So the relationship we have with Telstra is important for the work we do in the outback. Predominantly cities are easy to connect, but it's tough in the outback. Telstra is our best bet,” added Adam.

As the organisation’s workforce is dispersed across the state, with remote workers using cloud-based applications, Telstra deployed SecureEdge Network to secure the data transfer between its data centre and cloud services. This solution could identify users and devices, apply policy-based security, and deliver secure access to appropriate applications and data, irrespective of their location.

“The solution made it convenient to remain with our current network provider, while also providing a step up to a technology that was appropriate. We don't have to worry about the network and the perimeter. The solution has saved us time and money so we can now work on other projects in the cybersecurity space, which is fantastic,” says Adam.

Helping to serve the community better

SecureEdge Network from Telstra offers the network redundancy which the RFDS (Queensland Section) needed and its simple setup and management enables firewall policies to be changed as, and when, needed. It also provides network status updates, and monitors and reports on threat levels and application usage. The solution protects the network against cyber-attacks, viruses and other inappropriate and unauthorised access attempts, helping the organisation to focus on better serving the community. With the help of this solution, the RFDS (Queensland Section) has managed to achieve the following benefits:

  • Better visibility, transparency and performance: “The major benefit is the visibility and transparency so I can see what I want to see, do what I need to do, and I can view reports such as the breakdown of traffic and application bandwidth. Performance-wise, it has been great so far. It offers flexibility, customisation and uninterrupted operations as well,” says Luke.
  • Data protection: By implementing data protection policies, the RFDS (Queensland Section) can now prevent unauthorised access and use of business data.
  • Improved security posture: The RFDS (Queensland Section) now has access to enterprise-grade security services such as threat prevention web filtering, sandboxing, DNS security, credential theft prevention, data loss prevention and next-generation firewall policies such as application firewall and DDoS protection, intrusion detection and prevention, zero-Day protection, near real-time dashboard and reporting and URL/DNS filtering.
  • Improved application performance: Staff have secure and uninterrupted access to applications, internet and data, irrespective of their location.
  • Cost savings and reduced complexity: IT infrastructure is simplified by minimising the number of security applications required to run, manage and update.
  • Zero-Trust approach: End-to-end session protection with a zero-trust approach now provides the RFDS (Queensland Section) with a security service that scales to meet their changing security needs. 

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