Building a Cyber-Resilient Community:
How the Town of Mono Future-Proofed its Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Transformed Municipal Operations
5 Key Cyber Insurance Requirements Achieved
30% Reduction in Connection-Related Support Calls
25% Increase in Productivity
>100 Hours Saved
Small rural towns like Mono, Ontario often face uphill battles with cybersecurity. They have to grapple with limited budgets, constrained resources, and time restrictions. Standing at a crucial turning point, the town had a dual mandate—to not only comply with the stringent multi-factor authentication requirements for remote system access required by their cyber insurance provider but also to establish a strong security foundation to carry them into the future.
With Agilicus, the town’s leadership found much more than a compliance tick-box – they identified an avenue to significantly reduce risk and a simplified approach to cybersecurity.
This case study delves into the Town of Mono’s success with Agilicus and how they transitioned from a VPN-reliant infrastructure to a robust, VPN-less framework built around the principles of Zero Trust. By embracing Agilicus’ platform, the Town of Mono not only strengthened its cybersecurity resilience and remote access capabilities, but it also confidently tackled the rising demands of cyber insurance. Read on to see how they strategically shifted to surpass the boundaries of compliance and lead the way in achieving a new standard of comprehensive cybersecurity.
The Town of Mono is a small, rural municipality located in Ontario, Canada. Known for its natural beauty, Mono is home to a spectacular landscape of escarpment, villages, and tree-covered rolling hills and serves just under 10,000 citizens. The local municipal government plays a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth operation of the town’s everyday affairs, managing a wide spectrum of services that contribute to the community’s quality of life. From overseeing land use planning and maintaining roads, to managing waste and ensuring the efficient operation of water treatment facilities, the municipality of Mono is deeply involved in the fabric of its community’s lives.
Complementing their commitment to citizen services, Mono’s systems and processes blend the traditional and modern. Their hybrid IT infrastructure brings together conventional IT systems with contemporary, cloud-based solutions. This ecosystem encompasses a broad spectrum, including legacy financial systems, web applications, file servers, remote desktop protocol (RDP), and virtual network computing (VNC).
The town also supports a diverse user base, including full-time employees and part-time staff as well as external vendors, Mono’s network requires secure, flexible access at varying levels and times. As a result, navigating the balance between accessibility and security in an increasingly digital age remains a top priority for this forward-thinking municipality.
Unmasking the Cybersecurity Challenges
In a world with a rapidly changing digitalization landscape and ever-evolving cyber threats, the Town of Mono was at the beginning of a journey into the intricacies of cybersecurity. Their initial goal was clear and seemingly straightforward: they needed to fulfill the multi-factor authentication (MFA) requirements set out by their cyber insurance policy for remote system users.
But as the town’s leadership team delved deeper, it quickly became apparent the challenge was far greater. They didn’t just need to tick off a box on their compliance checklist; Mono needed to construct a robust, future-proof cybersecurity infrastructure that could anticipate and counteract increasingly sophisticated threats. Their challenge was not unique; ransomware attacks on municipalities nearly doubled in 2023, according to new research.
The Town of Mono needed to protect a growing pool of remote workers and an assortment of sensitive data – ranging from citizen information to financial systems. They had to provide secure access to their network for a diverse group of users, including part-time staff and vendors, without compromising security. Moreover, they needed to manage and secure privileged access to their network resources, which was essential to defend against data breaches and insider threats.
What they required was a solution that was not just scalable and user-friendly, but a comprehensive security fortress—a Privileged Access Management (PAM) system capable of taking on the multi-faceted cybersecurity challenges of today and tomorrow. And they needed to do this all while balancing limited budgets, resources, and time.
From Strategy to Execution: Implementing Agilicus’ Zero Trust Platform
When faced with this cybersecurity labyrinth to navigate, the Town of Mono turned to Agilicus to guide them through the enormous changes they needed to make and aptly solve their unique challenges. The journey started with compliance. Through Agilicus AnyX, they quickly and effectively implemented multi-factor authentication to meet their cyber insurance requirements.
But the more Mono leveraged Agilicus’ platform, the more capabilities and possibilities they discovered. It was much more than just a compliance tool—it was a cornerstone for a new and robust cybersecurity paradigm. The potential of Agilicus as a comprehensive Zero Trust solution emerged.
Prompted by this revelation, the town’s leadership made a bold decision—to replace their existing VPN infrastructure and transition their entire user base to Agilicus.
However, this move wasn’t impulsive. Far from it. It was grounded in meticulous testing and fine-tuning as part of a month-long expedition into the capabilities of the platform. They tested all possible use cases, from legacy financial systems and file shares to web applications, RDP, and VNC. They engaged various user groups, both technical and non-technical, to validate its user-friendliness. They involved vendors to ensure seamless access without requiring any client-side software installations. The ultimate goal? To guarantee a versatile, intuitive, and comprehensive security solution capable of serving a wide range of applications and users.
The journey, like any worthwhile venture, required careful planning and execution. But the destination—a fortified cybersecurity framework—promised a new dawn of digital resilience for the Town of Mono. And so, they set forth on their quest, fully aware of the challenges ahead, but driven by the promise of a secure, manageable, and future-ready cybersecurity landscape.
Realizing the Zero Trust Vision: Agilicus in Action
The Town of Mono’s journey with Agilicus marked a turning point in its approach to cybersecurity. It was not just a shift in technology, but a paradigm change in how they thought about and managed security. Embracing Agilicus’ platform meant embracing the comprehensive nature of the Zero Trust model, a model that goes beyond traditional boundary-based security, encapsulating every user, every device, and every connection within its purview.
With the implementation of this new solution, Mono was able to realize an organization-wide application of multi-factor authentication and Privileged Access Management (PAM). This strengthened their cybersecurity, offering robust and layered protection against potential breaches. PAM provided stringent controls on sensitive access privileges, ensuring that only those who needed certain levels of access could obtain them, thereby minimizing potential avenues for internal threats.
Beyond that, the platform’s capabilities of network segmentation and isolation served as the town’s digital fortress, erecting walls that halted lateral traversal in its tracks. This eliminated backdoors and reduced the risk of threats spreading across the network if a breach were to occur, tightening the security mesh around their digital assets.
But the transformation wasn’t limited to hardening defenses. It also ushered in a new era of flexible, efficient, and secure remote work. No longer were users confined to specific locations or tethered to cumbersome VPNs for secure access. With Agilicus, they could confidently connect from anywhere – be it from home, a coffee shop, or a remote conference. This newfound flexibility offered an unexpected bonus: an uptick in after-hours productivity. The ease and security of access meant that employees found it more convenient to complete tasks outside of traditional working hours, contributing to an overall increase in efficiency.
This transformation, powered by Agilicus, showcased how a small rural town could redefine its cybersecurity stance, embracing the future with confidence, and meeting the ever-evolving challenges of the digital age head-on.
Using Agilicus, the Town of Mono was able to leverage these key features:
Zero Trust Architecture: At the heart of Agilicus’s approach to cybersecurity is the concept of Zero Trust. It abandons the old paradigm of ‘trust but verify’ and instead assumes no trust, insisting on verification for every access request regardless of its origin. Agilicus implements strict user access controls, upholding the principle of least privilege, ensuring each user only has access to the resources necessary to perform their duties. This greatly minimizes unnecessary and insecure access to the network, fortifying the digital infrastructure against both external and internal threats.
Federated Identity and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): In a digital landscape where identities are often the key targets of cybercriminals, Agilicus employs a unique identity management framework. It federates identity and centralizes control, linking each user’s access to their individual email accounts. This allows for seamless integration with the existing IT infrastructure. Additionally, the platform implements MFA, adding an extra layer of security. Every system connection, internal or external, has to pass through this validation and authorization process, making unauthorized access considerably more difficult.
Contextual Access Control: Agilicus understands that not all access requests are created equal. Hence, the platform offers dynamic, contextual access control. Each access request is evaluated based on a variety of factors, including the user’s identity, location, the device being used, and the resource being accessed. This contextual awareness empowers the platform to grant permissions dynamically, further reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
Micro-Segmentation: With Agilicus, the Town of Mono could compartmentalize its network into secure, manageable chunks. This feature of micro-segmentation allows for granular control over resources, drastically reducing the attack surface. It also limits lateral movement within the network, reducing the chances of an attacker gaining access to sensitive areas once they’ve breached the initial defenses.
Secure Application Access: Agilicus enables secure access to a range of applications. Whether it’s web applications, file servers, remote desktop protocols, or virtual network computing, users can securely access specific applications without exposing the entire network. This feature was crucial in enabling Mono’s staff to work securely from any location, freeing them from the confines of traditional VPNs.
Continuous Authentication and Authorization: In a fast-paced digital environment, real-time policy updates are crucial. Agilicus continuously reviews authorization, enforcing policy updates in real time. It automatically revokes access when it’s no longer needed, preventing the accumulation of excess access rights.
In-Depth Visibility and Detailed Audit Logs: One of the significant advantages of the Agilicus platform is the comprehensive visibility it provides into network traffic. Detailed audit logs offer valuable data and insights, crucial for meeting compliance requirements and detecting potential threats. With these insights, the IT staff of Mono could be proactive rather than reactive, heading off potential issues before they became problems.
Measuring the Impact: Outcomes of Mono’s Cybersecurity Transformation
When we integrated Agilicus into our workflows, it was a game-changer. As we delved deeper into Agilicus’ capabilities, we realized the extensive potential it offered and how their platform could become an invaluable asset in our IT arsenal. One of the most profound impacts was the time it saved us. We’ve empowered our team to access and monitor our systems from any location, streamlining processes and significantly cutting down response times. Two years in, and every new use case still gets our IT Team excited!
Zdravko Jake Jakop
GIS/IT Data Manager, Town of Mono
Looking back at their journey, the Town of Mono recognized the transformative power of the Agilicus Platform. It has not only been an effective tool to enhance cybersecurity but also a strategic asset that has propelled the town forward in an increasingly digital world.
The platform’s robust security measures and comprehensive coverage helped the Town of Mono achieve milestones in cyber insurance that many of its peers found daunting. In the first year after implementing Agilicus, they not only managed to meet their cyber insurance requirements but also secured broader coverage. This was a testament to the robust security measures implemented and the trust instilled in their insurer.
When the second year arrived with heightened demands from their insurer, Mono wasn’t taken aback. Thanks to their foresight, they had already risen to the challenge. They successfully renewed their cyber insurance for a second year, highlighting the effectiveness of Agilicus’ platform in maintaining a strong security posture amidst escalating cybersecurity expectations.
One of the most profound impacts of adopting Agilicus was the peace of mind it brought to the IT team. Before its implementation, the team had to grapple with concerns about insecure devices connecting from risky locations, constantly firefighting potential threats and vulnerabilities. But with the comprehensive and proactive security measures provided by Agilicus, the IT team could rest easy. They now had a trusted partner in managing cybersecurity risks, allowing them to shift their focus from reactive threat management to strategic initiatives.
The platform didn’t just improve the Town of Mono’s cybersecurity infrastructure—it transformed the way they worked, thought, and strategized, setting them on a path of confidence, resilience, and continuous growth in the face of an evolving digital landscape.
Building a Future-Ready Municipality: Mono’s Call to Action
As Town Treasurer, my role focuses on efficient operations and risk management, and in today’s digital world, cybersecurity is a critical part of that equation. We initially turned to Agilicus to meet our need for multi-factor authentication, but what we discovered was a partnership that would significantly transform our approach to cybersecurity. Agilicus’s platform has not only enhanced our security but has also improved our operational efficiency, allowing our diverse team to securely access systems from anywhere, anytime. This has catalyzed improved collaboration, even after working hours. And perhaps most importantly, it has given us confidence in our readiness to meet future challenges. As we continue to roll out the Agilicus platform across our municipality, I’m excited about the opportunities for increased efficiency and resilience in our ever-evolving digital landscape.
Town Treasurer, Town of Mono
The journey of the Town of Mono serves as an inspiring beacon for municipalities grappling with the complexities of cybersecurity. Their story is not just about meeting insurance requirements or compliance but about harnessing innovative technology to build a resilient, agile, and secure IT infrastructure. They’ve demonstrated how a small rural municipality can leverage a comprehensive solution like Agilicus’ Zero Trust platform to not only defend against cyber threats but also to catalyze growth, innovation, and operational efficiency.
If your organization is navigating similar challenges—tight budgets, evolving cyber threats, demands for remote access, or cyber insurance mandates—Mono’s story is a call to action. It’s an invitation to redefine what’s possible in cybersecurity and to consider how a platform like Agilicus can empower your organization.
At Agilicus, we’re committed to transforming your security infrastructure, making remote work a seamless experience, and providing peace of mind in an increasingly digital world. We’re not just about providing a product; we’re about forming a partnership that can help your organization navigate the future with confidence and resilience.
So, take the first step. Reach out to the Agilicus team today, and let’s explore how we can shape your journey to a more secure, agile, and future-ready municipality. Let’s shape the future of cybersecurity together.