Løvenskiold-Vækerø has roots dating back to 1649 and is a dynamic and decisive group with operations in trade, real estate, forestry, and agriculture. The group’s largest business area, Løvenskiold Handel, operates the home and building supply chain Maxbo. The IT department of Løvenskiold Handel provides IT services to all companies in the group.
The beginning of extensive cooperation
The collaboration between Løvenskiold and Conscia began at the end of 2018 when one of Conscia’s consultants solved a previously “unsolvable” problem with the wireless network in one of Maxbo’s warehouses. After that, the collaboration was expanded, and since then, Conscia has provided all Cisco infrastructure on networks and security, as well as ongoing consulting services.
In 2020, Lars Martin Birkeland was hired in a newly created position as IT Security Manager/CISO, and he quickly began a risk assessment of the company.
“With around 2000 employees in the entire group and so many different companies and stores under the same umbrella, downtime caused by a security breach would be economically catastrophic. Fortunately, the management was very receptive to the idea that we needed to secure ourselves, so we got the funds and opportunity to implement some measures,” says Birkeland.
Løvenskiold Handel alone has around 1500 employees distributed across 72 Maxbo stores and warehouses nationwide. Few of these employees sit behind a PC all day, but all use email and some services via mobile.
“It goes without saying that all these employees have different levels of knowledge and maturity when it comes to IT security, so we must have good solutions in place,” Birkeland continues.
Established solutions that work
Løvenskiold chose Cisco as their supplier because it is important for them to use well-established, thoroughly tested solutions and assure that they will work.
“Our good relationship with Conscia and their expertise in Cisco also contribute to our continued use of Cisco. We have regular meetings with Conscia, and we find them very on top of things and service-oriented. Our dedicated Conscia consultant works so well and closely with us that we consider him a ‘Løvenskiolder.'”
Why Cisco Umbrella?
The implementation of Cisco Umbrella occurred at the beginning of 2021. The solution was chosen for its high level of security and simplicity, and it was considered a low-hanging initiative that would make a big difference.
“We get peace of mind with this solution – it works like a light in the dark. Now we have full visibility into all our traffic,” said Birkeland.
Setting up and implementing the solution is quick and easy; you simply point your traffic through Umbrella’s Cloud Service, and all traffic is secured.
“Even though we had good solutions for cleaning emails, both before they reach us, on the email server, and on various clients, it is still conceivable that the occasional email with malicious code will slip through. If we get malicious code on one of our clients or servers, it will often try to ‘call home’ to request further instructions or download even more malicious code,” Birkeland explains.
Since the malicious code is now inside the firewall, its generated traffic will be interpreted as legitimate traffic. With Umbrella, the malicious code cannot ‘call home,’ thus, further damage is stopped.
“This gives us excellent security – Cisco Umbrella should be mandatory for all Norwegian companies,” said Birkeland.
The Road Ahead with Conscia
The company will get an extended and enhanced benefit from Cisco Umbrella when they soon connect to Conscia’s SOC service. Umbrella then becomes one of many data sources that the SOC service will use to monitor and secure Løvenskiold’s infrastructure.
“Although the SOC solution is delivered from Conscia in Slovenia, it doesn’t feel like it’s on the other side of Europe, as we have local Conscia people who will assist us as needed.”
In addition, Løvenskiold also plans to implement SD-WAN for more secure and smoother network delivery. This will involve renewing all physical network infrastructure provided by Cisco and Conscia. As Birkeland concludes:
“Over the past two years, we have made great progress in security. Now we wear both belt and braces.”