Arizona city hires a system monitor to save time

Six months ago, Tim Van Cleave, network administrator for the city of Flagstaff, Ariz., told his supervisor that he would no longer have to spend most of his time monitoring the activities of 360 network users.

To ease the administrative burden, Van Cleave installed the NetVision Policy Management Suite from NetVision Inc. of Orem, Utah.

The suite's ServerAlert, Synchronicity and DirectoryAlert track all network activity and notify the administrator of intrusions or malicious tampering. The software sells for about $11 per user and $500 per server.

In real time, the suite detects changes made, who made them, and when and where they occurred, NetVision president Todd Lawson said. It alerts the administrator or designated user via e-mail or wireless device.

ServerAlert notifies the administrator if users try to gain access to data without proper authorization. DirectoryAlert gives real-time updates about file use and can produce audits at any time. It sends e-mail to the administrator about suspicious changes to files.

Watching 300 users

NetVision, started by three former Novell Inc. executives, designed the software to monitor networks running Microsoft Corp. or Novell directory services.

Flagstaff's Van Cleave said he formerly had to create and update all the user accounts for the city's Novell NetWare server.

'Administration of 300-odd users is kind of a pain,' he said. 'I would have to set up all the information to let a user into NetWare, then I'd have to go into Windows and set up access rights, which would double my time in administration.'

Now NetVision's Synchronicity makes updates to user accounts automatically in Microsoft Windows 2000 Active Directory.

The Federal Aviation Administration began using DirectoryAlert and ServerAlert about a year ago, said network administrator J.R. Julio, after he had detected a few internal intrusions.

Eventually, Julio plans to convert users from passwords to biometric identifiers. He said that will make it easier to track down users who inappropriately access data and files.

'NetVision tracks all the changes,' Julio said, but a criminal with a stolen password could still log in as a legitimate user.

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