Review: Cisco Meraki MX64 Cloud-Managed Platform Tightens Network Security
Protecting college students, educators, visitors and other users of a busy campus network can be challenging.
With so many people logging in and making use of resources, and so much personal information potentially flowing through the network, modern campuses are tempting targets for hackers and other cybercriminals. Institutions need to protect themselves as least as well as most businesses and corporations do.
On many campuses, limited IT budgets and a lack of dedicated staff make network protection a challenge. What is needed is advanced cybersecurity that is both easily scalable and simple to manage.
That’s where the Cisco Meraki MX64 cloud-managed security appliance can help. Designed to protect campus environments from cyberthreats without taxing IT budgets, it includes intrusion protection, anti-virus, content filtering and the ability to create secure VPN tunnels for authorized users.
Unlike most security appliances, the MX64 can be installed in seconds and managed over the cloud. Here’s how that works: The MX64 connects through the cloud to a Cisco Meraki data center. It can then get all of its firmware upgrades through an SSL connection.
Administrators can manage the device the same way, using a simple, graphical interface. Technical expertise is not required to install the MX64 physically at an institution or to manage it remotely through the cloud — a plus for large environments or colleges with multiple locations.
MORE FROM EDTECH: 5 Tips for Starting a Campus Security Department from Scratch.
Control User Search Options and Prioritize Bandwidth Use
The MX64 has Layer 7 functionality and automatically integrates with Microsoft Active Directory, which lets it enforce content filtering options for various groups, applications or individual users. Features also include web search filters that can be quite detailed, such as granting teachers and administrators greater access than students, or perhaps giving students more rights than guests. Google SafeSearch and YouTube for Schools are also included.
Admins can also prioritize applications or users in terms of bandwidth, so that critical applications aren’t slowed at peak use times. And regardless of how the bandwidth is configured, the Cisco Threat Grid and advanced malware protection cover all traffic.
Amid the entire line of Meraki security appliances, the MX64 is designed for the smallest number of users and can simultaneously support 50 concurrent users as well as 50 VPN tunnels. Stack several MX64s for additional bandwidth. Also, larger institutions can install more enterprise models, such as the MX84, which supports 500 users, or the MX450, which can handle up to 10,000 clients.
For busy campuses with small IT budgets, the MX64 offers protection while streamlining most of the administrative homework that such an effort would normally entail.
MORE FROM EDTECH: The Hardware Behind Keeping Campuses Safe.
Easy Integration with Other Networked Devices
Meraki devices are built with enough processing power and memory that none of the administrative functions or interactions with the cloud impact performance. Settings are stored locally, so an interrupted connection doesn’t impact performance either. Those rules hold true for the MX64. It never slowed even when processing large payloads of data.
Cisco data centers run the Meraki cloud management platform, which securely provides all firmware updates to Meraki devices without any user intervention. It also allows management and policy changes though the same SSL connection that each device creates with the data center.
Once installed during testing, the MX64 immediately joined other Meraki devices. It was even easy to link them. For example, the MX64 quickly routed and protected a Cisco Meraki security camera’s feeds, even giving it priority access after-hours when nothing else should be running at my virtual campus.
It’s good for colleges and smaller institutions to have an easy-to-use security device. It’s great for them to have one that integrates with other devices and includes self-configuration and easy management features. The ability to securely manage the security device along with, potentially, thousands of others from anywhere in world further elevates the Meraki’s functionality.
Regardless of the size of a college’s network, the Meraki cloud management software that comes with the MX64 will keep campuses and classrooms protected
Cisco Meraki MX64
Firewall throughput:: 250Mbps
Max concurrent users: 1.3 million
VPN Throughput: 100
Operational power consumption: 10 watts
Dimensions: 5.2x9.4x1 inches
Weight: 3.09 pounds