SDN Blog

Certified firewall ‘wizards’ help SDN protect customer networks

Posted on Thursday, March 14, 2019 in Cybersecurity , Managed Firewall , Employees

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Fortinet Certifications


Businesses that subscribe to SDN Communications’ Managed Firewall Service enjoy advantages, in addition to having a good, up-to-date firewall in place to block potentially dangerous traffic. For one, customers may contact the company no matter what type of cybersecurity challenge confronts them.

“Regardless of whether they’re having a problem with their firewall, they’re welcome to call SDN. We’ll help diagnose and resolve the issue,” said Jake VanDewater, director of network operations at SDN.

VanDewater oversees SDN’s Managed Services technical crew. Among the experts he can call on to help a customer, if necessary, are Mike Klein and Josh Ecklein. Both have the certifications as well as the experience in the trenches to qualify as cybersecurity experts.

Klein is a Managed Services lead technician and Ecklein is a Managed Services data technician. Both have earned Level 7 certifications in Fortinet’s Network Security Expert Program.

Mike Klein & Josh Ecklein - Certified Managed Services Team

As Fortinet puts it, the NSE 7 designation “identifies a candidate’s advanced skills in deploying, administering, and troubleshooting Fortinet security solutions.”

Certifications from Fortinet are relevant because SDN uses the company’s highly regarded, flagship FortiGate firewalls to implement its Managed Firewall Service. Fortinet is a prominent, California-based company that offers a variety of high-performance, cybersecurity products.  

Klein earned his NSE 7 certification in 2017 and Ecklein earned his in 2018. To commemorate the achievements, SDN CEO Mark Shlanta bought them wizard hats.

The Fortinet program actually offers eight levels of certification. But in terms of relevant training to help  SDN’s customers, Level 7 is the keystone, Klein said. The study and final test have practical applications.

“A lot of it is troubleshooting problems you’ll find out in the field,” Klein said.

Klein earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer-related fields at Dakota State University in Madison. He worked for state government for about two years before coming to SDN about five years ago.

Ecklein earned an associate’s degree at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls. He worked for Communication Services for the Deaf and for Midcontinent Communications for more than a decade before coming to SDN nearly five years ago.

Ecklein also holds certification from Cisco, another prominent cybersecurity company, to document his expertise in working with routers.

Another member of the SDN Managed Services technical team, Jesse Robertson, holds a Level 4 certification from Fortinet. Several SDN employees in other departments hold other certifications.

Deploying a good, up-to-date firewall to help identify and block potentially threatening traffic is a fundamental component of good cybersecurity for businesses. However, firewalls can’t just be installed and neglected. To remain effective, they have to be regularly updated. That’s where SDN comes in.

Under a managed services contract, SDN provides the necessary security equipment, such as a firewall, and the staff expertise to keep it updated and running effectively.

The biggest challenge for the Managed Services’ team is simply helping customers work through problems they might experience with their network, regardless of whether the issue is directly related to a firewall, Ecklein said.

SDN has a very diverse base of customers, so the staff deals with a wide variety of issues.

“We pride ourselves in proactively identifying problems and providing solutions,” VanDewater said. “Our staff has to have a deep understanding of our customers’ networks.”

For more information about SDN Managed Firewall Service, call 800-247-1442 or reach out through the form on the contact page.

SDN Communications is a regional leader in providing broadband connectivity and cybersecurity services to businesses in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington, and the surrounding areas.


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