Landwirtschaftskammer Nordrhein-Westfalen (the Chamber of Agriculture in North Rhine-Westphalia) is a self-regulatory, self-governing public body with a range of tasks relating to agriculture and horticulture. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has also delegated a range of state government duties to the Chamber.
The IT infrastructure at the Chamber of Agriculture in North Rhine-Westphalia is certified by the Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (BSI—the Federal Office for Information Security) and, as such, must adhere to particularly stringent security restrictions.
Employees currently have access to approximately 600 professional software applications to support them in their daily work. To guarantee that these applications run smoothly for the approximately 1,750 employees, the IT department must provide the required infrastructure and networking services, including centralized Internet access, while also ensuring a high level of security. As a testament to the Chamber’s implementation of the particularly stringent security measures, its IT environment has been certified by the BSI. This certification is important to the Chamber of Agriculture for a number of reasons, not least because it indicates compliance with EU regulations – a prerequisite when subsidies are being allocated.
Michael Zimmermann, Deputy Head of Windows Technology/User Service at the Chamber of Agriculture in North Rhine-Westphalia, explains that “the IT department faces additional challenges here, in that we are required to implement the BSI’s very rigorous catalogue of measures”. These include an appropriate system configuration for hardware and software, as well as strict security measures. The implementation of these measures is verified in an annual audit.
Since July 2013, the Chamber has been using the software appliance to secure Internet traffic, and has been putting the solution to the test in terms its anti-malware scanning. The solution also identifies websites with harmful or inappropriate content using the Web reputation services of the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network. “The standard filters provided with the solution do everything we need them to do,” points out the Deputy Head. “Our security team haven’t needed to reconfigure them yet or to block any content manually.” Zimmermann also says that application control, i.e. the blocking of access to unauthorized applications, is working well and hasn’t required any improvements.
With Trend Micro InterScan Web Security to secure Internet access and protect against harmful or inappropriate content, the Chamber can comply with these restrictions, while at the same time saving on administrative effort and costs.
This backdrop of stringent requirements explains the high standards demanded by the Chamber’s IT team when seeking a new security solution to protect Internet traffic. As a priority, the new solution had to be able to support the Chamber’s specific IT environment, which does not include direct access to the Internet. Access is provided via the network of the federal state administration of North Rhine-Westphalia. As a result, the connection to the Internet always occurs via the nearest proxy server.
The Deputy Head explains one of the main challenges facing the new product as follows: “The security software also has to follow this same path and connect to the next hop proxy, which first provides a connection to the Internet and then checks it again.” He says “Given the additional requirements that apply here, only Trend Micro InterScan Web Security Virtual Appliance passed the test.”
The other crucial criterion in the selection of the right solution was the BSI’s requirement for reliable content filtering and the blocking of harmful content and applications. InterScan Web Security scored points here also. In brief, Michael Zimmerman explains: “Compared with the other solutions we tested, the Trend Micro solution offered additional benefits, such as very flexible content filtering, solid support for our virtual HyperV environment and, of course, great value for money.”
Life has been made easier for the IT department with Trend Micro solutions.
Zimmermann explains that the Chamber of Agriculture will also base its approach to messaging security on Trend Micro because InterScan Messaging Security fulfilled its requirements to a greater extent than any other product considered. Here, once again, the capabilities of content filtering for email and scripts proved crucial.
The Web security product has been configured and has already had an opportunity to demonstrate its benefits. At the end of last year, there was a broad-based wave of email attacks using fake invoices, which also targeted the Chamber of Agriculture. The Trend Micro solution successfully blocked an email which contained a link to a pdf document contaminated with payload. Zimmerman explains that “although the attack was contained in an email, it arrived via the proxy Internet server, where InterScan Web Security Virtual Appliance had a chance to prove itself. If we had needed any further confirmation that Trend Micro was the right choice, then that would have been it.” “Our IT environment is definitely more secure now,” the IT expert concludes.