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Nikigolf Co.

Golf retailer strengthens the security of its IT environment by blocking attacks on Windows XP PCs and preventing the sophisticated threats which lead users to malicious sites


Nikigolf is a major golfing retailer with stores throughout Japan. In addition to running stores at golf courses, in recent years the company has focused on operations involving the use of the Internet, providing a diverse range of services which include online shopping and golf course reservation, news of the latest products, and insurance for golfers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


As a retail chain which offers golfing merchandise, Nikigolf is beloved by many golfers. In recent years, the company has not only sold merchandise at its stores, it has also provided services such as insurance for golfers, and online shopping and golf course reservations through its “NIKIGOLF Online” website.

As its operations have expanded, the company has strengthened the IT infrastructure supporting its business in a number of ways. “From the migration of core systems through to the use of tablets in stores to raise work efficiency, we are actively promoting IT usage,” says Nikigolf’s Taku Noguchi. In order to invigorate IT usage, it is essential for the company to guarantee the security which will support this usage. For that reason, Nikigolf set about strengthening security even further on the 320 client PCs installed at its stores and head office.

“We had been using “Enterprise Security for Endpoints Standard” to protect our PCs. However, because threats have become increasingly sophisticated, especially in attempts to trick employees into visiting malicious websites, we felt that we needed stronger countermeasures,” says Noguchi. An even more pressing issue was the approaching end of official support for Windows XP and how the company would provide countermeasures for vulnerabilities in its XP PCs.

“Although we had completed the move to Windows 7 on most of our PCs, we also had office XP PCs for development and verification which used programs created with Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel 2003 that were an essential part of our operations. Even if vulnerabilities are found in the OS in the future, there will be no official patches. We had decided on a full-scale migration in the future, but we were searching for a method to safely extend the life of these PCs in the interim,” Noguchi reflects.


Nikigolf began the selection process for a new solution that would strengthen the security of its PCs. The company looked at a number of potential products, conducted thorough analyses and comparisons, and selected Trend Micro’s Enterprise Security for Endpoints Advanced.

The company first evaluated the Web Reputation function, which leverages databases compiled by collecting and analyzing threats from throughout the world in real-time. By referencing these databases in real-time, OfficeScan™ automatically prevents PCs accessing malicious websites. “We are able to completely prevent the sophisticated techniques that lead users to access malicious websites, as well as preventing users from unwittingly trying to access these websites of their own accord on the system side,” explains Noguchi.

The company also decided that the Trend Micro™ Vulnerability Protection in Enterprise Security for Endpoints Advanced would effectively deal with the issue of securing the remaining Windows XP PCs. As one of the plug-in functions of Enterprise Security for Endpoints Advanced, Vulnerability Protection uses recommended settings to automatically scan client PCs for any remaining vulnerabilities, confirms that the correct patch has been applied, and automatically applies a virtual patch if necessary (DPI rules). This function is commonly used to prevent attacks which strike at vulnerabilities before official patches provided by the vendor are distributed, or in environments in which it is easy for the user to forget to apply patches. However Nikigolf decided that the function would maintain the minimum security level it demanded for PCs running Windows XP even after the end of official patch distribution, extending the life of those essential PCs.

There is no question that for avoiding risks, migration to a currently supported OS such as Windows 7 or Windows 8 is best. Furthermore, there was a fear that in an environment in which no official patches were released, virtual patches would pile up and negatively affect the performance of PCs. However, as there was no other option but to use the Windows XP PCs, Nikigolf considered the use of Trend Micro Vulnerability Protection as the next-best practice.

In addition, Nikigolf had been using Trend Micro products for a long period of time and regarded the company’s friendly service and support systems favorably, which also became a decisive factor in the adoption.

“When a security incident arose, it was difficult for us to examine the type of fundamental countermeasures necessary to prevent the problem, and consider the appropriate policies from a middle/long-term perspective on our own. Fortunately, Trend Micro contacted us regularly, and if asked, instantly provided us with the appropriate advice and plans on the spot. This sense of security and high degree of trust was a big advantage,” says Noguchi.
 


Enterprise Security for Endpoints Advanced successfully eradicated the security concerns of Nikigolf surrounding its PCs.

“We are left with the impression that Trend Micro’s Web Reputation is extremely accurate. Even though we set the blocking settings to the highest of the three available levels, we have had no complaints from users at stores and offices that they have been unable to visit the websites that they need to,” states Noguchi.

Furthermore, in addition to allowing the company to extend the life of its machines running Windows XP, the vulnerability protection function has also enabled Nikigolf to lift restrictions on Flash Player, which had been previously prohibited due to security concerns. “The fact that we are able to spare enough time to investigate whether or not applying official patches will affect other applications, in addition to automatic vulnerability protection at a stage prior to patch application, is a huge advantage. We now apply patches in stages while examining the effect on the existing system,” explains Noguchi.

Nikigolf is currently examining Trend Micro Mobile Security Advanced for the security of the tablet devices that the company is planning to deploy. “We feel that a total of approximately 300 tablets could help elevate the operational efficiency of our stores, and we would like them to contribute to safe information usage and a reformed work style,” Noguchi continues.

The company has high expectations that the support of Trend Micro security will move this initiative forwards. “We are completely satisfied with Trend Micro’s contributions up to this point, and we definitely want them to provide us with effective proposals as our partner in the future,” concludes Noguchi.



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