Always-on VPN for remote working
Stafford Railway Building Society and ANSecurity
Data Security / Compliance Project of the Year
Entry Description
Originally championed by a small group of railway workers, The Stafford Railway Building Society was established in 1877 and is still going strong with a focus on straightforward, good value products backed by a plain-speaking, friendly service. In 2018, the society scooped the coveted ‘Best Local Building Society’ in the Mortgage Finance Gazette Awards.

Although proud of its tradition, the Society is firmly committed to embracing the changes and challenges of today’s society. In late 2017, the Society migrated its Core IT system to Mutual Vision, a private cloud-based application. This provides the Society with improved capability to further develop both a more efficient, automated member-facing process and significant scope for the automation of internal functionality.

During 2018, the Society concentrated on embedding the new core system and utilising the additional features it had to offer. The first significant enhancement being the introduction of SRBS Mortgage Hub to give Mortgage Brokers a digital connection to the Society. The IT team also began a dual-use project to implement more remote working with the aim of increasing flexibility for staff while also strengthening its business continuity planning so that it can work remotely in the event of any site impacting issues at its head office.

“Continuity planning and security are two major requirements for us,” explains Heather Hamilton Head of IT for Stafford Railway Building Society, “Although we have disaster recovery arrangements it would be difficult to operate our service in the event of a major outage. In terms of security, any type of remote access needs to have the highest levels of security to meet our regulatory requirements as well as industry best practice.”
“Lastly, we wanted to make the process simple for our staff to use and the IT department to manage - what we wanted was a solution that could solve all three challenges in an elegant way.”

Hamilton contacted ANSecurity for advice following a recommendation from an IT contractor that had carried out an earlier project at the Society. “ANSecurity did an assessment and created a solution that would ensure that all of our access, both internally and from remote workers would be validated by an always-on VPN along with digital certificates embedded on each device,” explains Hamilton.

Following a successful proof of concept, the full roll-out of the Pulse Secure VPN took place over a two-day period, including staff training. “The solution allowed us to turn off the secondary WIFI network and now everything runs over a single network and is automatically validated before the user can access any applications,” she explains.
“The login is really easy to use for the staff, as all the additional checks are all happening in the background. This strangely has been one of those things that we deployed, and we've actually had positive feedback where we've had staff come to us and say... ‘oh that always-on VPN is really good,” Hamilton adds.

The Society is now rolling out remote working to staff in stages and the initial feedback has been very positive. “It not just for home working,” she says, “We have also had positive feedback from our executives who can now quickly and securely access our key apps without any issues while away from their desks in meetings on or off site.”
The solution has delivered a clear return on investment, reduced the number of calls to its IT helpdesk and proven extremely reliable. “ANSecurity has been with us every step of the way during this project,” says Hamilton, “They have been both professional and helpful and delivered a solution that easily exceeded our expectations,” Hamilton concludes.
Supporting Documents