Alphawest

Australia

Products Used:

Forcepoint Web Security
Forcepoint Email Security Cloud

We have significantly reduced complexity, increased our security, and given ourselves a level of visibility we have never had before. It is easy for any CIO to see that this is good for IT, and great for business.

Nick Watts
Head of IT

Overview

With a history dating back to the mid-1980s, a period of public listing on the Australian Stock Exchange and the 2005 high-profile acquisition by SingTel Optus, Alphawest is one of Australia’s best-known ICT support organizations. Headquartered in Sydney, it provides systems development and provisioning, managed and other support services to clients across Australia.

Challenge

A key factor in the company’s success has been its ability to adapt over the years to keep pace with changing technologies, business practices and customer expectations. One recent example of this can be seen in Alphawest’s increasing commitment to ensuring customer security.

“For customers doing business with Alphawest, security is becoming a ‘must have.’ The protection of confidential information is often now a contractual requirement, and it is no longer good enough to simply ‘talk the talk.’ Our customers are demanding real information assurance.”
— Nick Watts

The essential content security requirements at Alphawest include protection of sensitive client and partner emails; protection against malware distributed by email or websites; protection against security compromises introduced via hosted applications and the cloud; and the ability to minimize the potential for intentional and unintentional data leakage.

“Like many companies, we are increasingly leveraging software-as-a-service. About 25 percent of our business systems are now hosted outside our network perimeter, so it is critical that we are able to protect ourselves from a compromise in any of those services that might affect our business internally. The CIO forums are full of talk about the security of data in the cloud, but it is also important to consider the implications of malware in the cloud finding its way back into your network. It is what is in the traffic that matters more than where it came from.”
— Nick Watts

Solution

To meet the company’s stringent security needs, Alphawest has been using Forcepoint Web and Email Security since 2012. The solution supplements traditional reputation-based filtering needs with intelligent content inspection and advanced analytics.

“Maintaining a separate solution is inefficient and, frankly, frustrating. Adopting a hybrid web and email security solution from Forcepoint has given us the best of both worlds. It delivers great IT management efficiencies, because a single management console configures both the cloud services and our internal appliances. So you do everything once, and you are protected twice. But at the same time, it ensures we maintain those multiple lines of defense. It is redundancy without replication.”
— Nick Watts

Leveraging the cloud as Alphawest’s first line of defense also helps ensure that the vast majority of malicious content never reaches the company network. For example, with a significant amount of unsolicited email now stopped in the cloud, the overall amount of email entering the company network has been reduced by around 80 percent. Given Alphawest processes close to a million inbound emails every week, this represents a considerable bandwidth saving.

When planning Alphawest’s web security strategy, the IT department decided to first focus on building a good wall and then ensure that everything else was placed behind it.

“Any device on our network connects to the Internet through the Forcepoint solution. PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads, Androids, our BlackBerry fleet and anything else,” Watts confirms. “This significantly increases our security by ensuring there is a consistent level of protection across all users and all devices. Users working from home connect via VPN, so they also sit behind the exact same web and email protection they would have if they were right here in the office.”
— Nick Watts

As a proactive measure, Alphawest is also using the gateway DLP elements within TRITON to enable the company to monitor and, if necessary, block sensitive data from inadvertently leaving the business.

“Because Forcepoint is so tightly integrated with the email and web security components; it is very easy to apply predefined DLP policies across all our gateways and devices.”
— Nick Watts

Results

One efficiency gain has come from empowering end users to release their own captured email, thus reducing the number of end users who need to contact the service desk with queries over captured emails.

“The good news is the security and business advantages of the solution have not come at the expense of my team’s productivity. We are constantly being asked to do more with the same resources, and this is a great example of technology making that possible.”
— Nick Watts

However, Watts believes the biggest efficiency gain is due to the simplicity that comes from consolidating content security management within a single solution.

“Web, email and DLP — as well as the cloud and in-house mechanisms — can all be managed from the one console. This gives us the best possible chance to map our organization’s security policy into an effective and holistic approach to security. Even though we have four Forcepoint appliances across the country, there is no danger of inconsistency because one set of policies, on one console, controls web, email, and DLP, across all sites, all users, and all devices on our network. And we have defense-in-depth because it integrates seamlessly with the cloud.”
— Nick Watts

The approach has also helped to reduce complexity for the IT team, removing any need to manage separate Internet gateway solutions for BlackBerrys, corporate devices, and non-standard devices.

“We have significantly reduced complexity, increased our security, and given ourselves a level of visibility we have never had before. It is easy for any CIO to see that this is good for IT, and great for business.”
— Nick Watts

Alphawest has relied on Forcepoint security solutions since 2007.

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