Security Software Locks Down Servers For Bus Line

Pace Suburban Bus deploys software from Solidcore Systems to prevent unauthorized code from executing on crucial servers and let IT managers install security patches on their own schedule.

August 5, 2005

2 Min Read
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After the recent terrorist attacks in London, any organization that manages more than 600 buses in a major metropolitan area has to be on alert at all times. And when the bus fleet is involved with the potential evacuation of a major city like Chicago, the IT staff doesn't need any reminders about security.

"We know about security because we have to adjust operations whenever there's an Orange alert," says Bob Lescaleet, MIS manager at Pace Suburban Bus, a division of the Regional Transportation Authority of Northern Illinois.

Those obligations affect how the company handles security patches to its IT systems. "When we go to deploy critical hot patches on our servers, with a day's notice to users, it's hard to tell how critical they really are," he says. Sometimes the patches don't want to install properly, he says, forcing system administrators to uninstall the patch. In some cases, that requires shutting down a cluster of servers to take one out of service to uninstall the patch and rebuild the server.

To avoid that problem and keep his crucial systems running, Lescaleet has deployed software from Solidcore Systems that locks down a server and limits who can make changes and restricts the kinds of changes they can make. For Pace, the crucial systems include those handling automated dispatch, financial applications such as payroll and accounts receivable, data on van pools, and bus maintenance, which is important for vehicles that typically roll around 3,000 miles per week.

"Solidcore will lock down our 30 critical servers, with no adding, deleting, or executables allowed," he says. "Even my systems administrators can't get in to a system without unlocking Solidcore."The software also lets him take a planned approach to installing security patches. Lescaleet has started to schedule patch installation two and three months down the road. "Hackers can't get in so we can schedule the patches," he says. "And it takes the same time to do 15 patches now that it used to take for one patch at a time."

Solidcore on Monday will unveil S3 Security software, which is designed to give administrators more control over servers. In addition to preventing any unauthorized code from executing, the software will give IT managers a greater ability to schedule patches based on service-level agreements or when the systems aren't under heavy demand.

For Lescaleet, the software means his servers will stay up so his vehicles can serve bus passengers every day on schedule and be available in case a security emergency requires that his fleet of buses perform more unexpected duties.

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