May Half Term – a good time for some housekeeping?

With Half Term on the horizon, it might be a good idea to review the firewall access that you have in place. Are there legacy firewall rules that can be removed? Of course if firewall rules are no longer needed, the access should be disabled. I would encourage you to pay particular attention to inbound access. Have you previously deployed access to an internally hosted server that has since been decommissioned? Or have you provided access for a company to connect into the school network and you no longer work with them? It is the school’s responsibility to let us know if access is no longer required, otherwise it will remain in place.

To find out what is in place at your school, please get in touch with our Broadband Service Desk. We would recommend you viewing this information in SafetyNet and we will be happy to talk you through the information  that you are looking at.



Self-Service Firewall

I am pleased to confirm that the self-service firewall is now live and users can access this by using their SafetyNet credentials. While access must be turned on by HfL, if you previously had access to the Connectivity area of Safetynet (to make or view DNS records), you will be able to access the self-service firewall in read only mode.

I would encourage all schools, particularly secondary schools, to have read only access. If you want the full read and write access, I will need the Head Teacher to authorise this. Please note that if you want the ability to make DNS changes, this will also give you access to make firewall changes. If you have previously had full access to the DNS platform, you will find that it is now on read only access. As explained above, access is easily reactivated once authorised by the Head Teacher.

Having read only access to the firewall will help keep schools on top of what access is in place. Some schools will have legacy firewall rules that will need tidying up or even removed. Seeing what access is in place can also assist when troubleshooting issues.

This is version 1 and there is a list of roadmap development ideas. So certain firewall requirements will still need to be logged as a change request with HfL, and the RM staff with Fortigate access will then be able to create these for you.

I am happy to carry out some training with you. Depending on numbers, I will either do this on a one-to-one basis or possibly larger groups. If you’re interested in this or you have any further queries, please get in touch with me.

A basic training guide will be added to this site in due course. RM have also added some support documents within SafetyNet.


Kevin Crawley

HfL Broadband

I am sure many of you are aware that HfL Broadband has replaced our previous HICS service. I have been intending to update you on the renewal numbers for a while now – but the last few months have been very busy. No doubt the vast majority of you are also feeling the pressure in these unprecedented times!

Up to September 30th 2020, 508 schools were contracted to receive their broadband provision through HfL. We are pleased to say that only 49 of these schools did not renew through us. It’s an extremely competitive market and we are delighted with the renewals numbers. We also had two schools who left us three years ago, decide to re-join.

There were lots of different reasons these schools left our provision: schools closing, infants and junior schools merging and only needed the one connection, schools joining out of county provisions and of course others just wishing to contract elsewhere. We wish all of these schools the best in their new scenarios.

There are 150 schools that are increasing their internet speed either by installing a different type of internet circuit or by increasing their bandwidth on their existing infrastructure. As I am sure that you can imagine there are currently lots of challenges associated to the work that is required and we will be working closely with RM to make sure that this is as problem free as possible.

We would like to extend our thanks to RM, and of course to all schools and I.T. support companies who have worked with us, particularly in the challenging circumstances due to the pandemic. We value your custom and look forward to working closely with you during the new three year contract. If you have questions or need advice, please contact us on either or by phoning 01438 844777.

Stay safe!

Kevin Crawley


I hope everyone is well.

The HICS Service Desk have been receiving quite a lot of requests to access Vimeo. My understanding is that lots of Ed Tech companies (specifically The Oak National Academy) are embedding videos from Vimeo into their websites. Due to the current climate, I have put through a change making Vimeo accessible on WF3 (it was already available on WF1 and WF2). If schools do not want to access Vimeo, please set the relevant devices to WF4 – or contact us and we can make local changes to the school’s filtering policies.

Thanks… and stay safe!


SSL Connect (VPN) Service Improvements

Following on from our communication yesterday, we have been in discussions with RM to identify how we can jointly support you as effectively as possible for the use of VPN

Within the next 24 hours the following changes will take place:

·         All schools will each be upgraded from 10 concurrent sessions to 50

·         The HICS network was previously capped at 500 concurrent connections.  Burst capacity will be enabled for up to 2500 connections

·         The duration of user connections timing out when they are inactive has been reduced to 10 minutes.  This will reduce the amount of connections which are left dormant, making them available for others to use.

We hope this will drastically improve the effectiveness of the service during this difficult period of time and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

SSL Connect Update

We reported yesterday that some of our customers have been experiencing difficulties when using SSL Connect Remote Working (VPN). The network is under an immense amount of strain at the moment due to the large volumes of people working from home. In order to ensure this remains as accessible as possible to all, please follow the guidance below:

–          Only log into SSL Connect when needing to access school-hosted resources (e.g. SIMs servers) and log off immediately after using them.  Accessing cloud-based resources (e.g. Microsoft Office 365 and Google G-suite won’t need a VPN connection)

–          Ensure that you proactively log out of SSL Connect when you do not need remote access to ensure that your session terminates immediately without leaving it to time-out

–          If your school is likely to have more than 10 concurrent users at any one time, please let us know via the Service Desk, so that we can do all we can to ensure the correct resources are allocated to you