Stiftung Wagerenhof Customer Story

Providing a Secure Environment to Enable Residents with Disabilities to Thrive and Flourish

Situated in the rolling hills of northern Switzerland, Stiftung Wagerenhof (the Wagerenhof Foundation) offers the opportunity for its 220 special needs residents to lead a fulfilling and protected life within its beautifully manicured campus. The foundation’s 25-hectare (60-acre) site includes residential, educational and vocational facilities, along with shops, stables and a fully operational farm. Tracing its origins back to 1904, the foundation employs 650 members of staff in a 365x24 model who are dedicated to providing people with important mental and physical disabilities the opportunity to thrive and share in the experiences of everyday life.

The small IT and security team embodies the foundation’s philosophy of nurturing and inspiring. Jens Berensmann, head of IT at Stiftung Wagerenhof explained, “Keeping resident’s information secure is one of the cornerstones of building trust and confidence. A lot of information, along with personal items, like photos and videos, is stored on our systems. We also generate significant volumes of medical and health-related data, so keeping everything secure plays a critical role in how the foundation is perceived.”

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Stiftung Wagerenhof protects residents and employees from cyber attacks with FireEye

“Our partnership with FireEye demonstrates that even complex IT environments can be managed in a very professional, efficient and secure manner with a very small number of staff.”

- Jens Berensmann, Head of IT, Stiftung Wagerenhof

Limited Resources Constrain Coverage

Through its encouragement of exploration and personal discovery, the foundation’s IT infrastructure frequently experiences the presence of malware, typically initiated by unsuspecting users clicking on a link or attachment in an email. Individual computers were regularly victims of ransomware attacks and the foundation also faced drive-by-downloads.

When a resident or staff member recognized that a cyber attack was taking place, they are requested to use the foundation’s IT hotline to report the issue. As this often happened outside of the team’s standard working hours, malware frequently had the opportunity to establish itself and attempt to broaden its attack. Even when quickly detected, it was not uncommon for systems to be down for up to three days.

Berensmann recalled: “Our modestly-sized team was repeatedly stretched in trying to manage these kinds of incidents. It became very apparent that our signature-based protection was not sufficient and that we needed to be able to identify unknown threats in real-time. At the end of the day, it is always about finding the absolute best way to keep our residents secure.”

Multiple Recommendations for FireEye

Berensmann and his team researched the market and consulted with their professional network. “As one of the most vulnerable and most exploited threat vectors, we knew we wanted to start by securing our email traffic. Almost everyone we asked recommended FireEye Email Security,” he described.

“We worked with two of our IT partners to evaluate the FireEye solution and it scored extremely highly. The automated detection and remediation capabilities definitely checked the boxes for being low maintenance and being able to provide continuous protection around the clock.”

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Stiftung Wagerenhof Fast Facts

Industry: Healthcare / Not-for-Profit
Website: www.wagerenhof.ch

Stiftung Wagerenhof – a non-profit organization - is a live-in care facility that provides a caring and stimulating home-style environment to special needs residents of all ages. The facility is located near Zurich, Switzerland.

Immediate and Sustainable Improvement

Berensmann reflected: “Implementation was very straightforward and within just a few weeks of going live we were very impressed to see that more than 500 potentially malicious emails had been moved to quarantine. Previously these messages would have been sent straight to our users. We now provide 24/7 coverage and automatically manage any attack in real-time.”

He added, “The accuracy of FireEye Email Security is very impressive: Since going live, we haven’t had a single user complaint that an email was incorrectly quarantined.”

Deepening the Partnership

The positive results from the deployment of FireEye Email Security resulted in the decision to evaluate and then deploy two additional FireEye solutions: FireEye Network Security and FireEye Threat Intelligence to provide the team with insight about cyber threats and actors.

The combination of FireEye solutions and services enables the core three-member IT and security team to efficiently manage and protect the foundation’s widespread environment.

“Our team doesn’t have a traditional security background, so it is vital that we have immediate access to the experts that do. The integrated dashboard gives us visibility across our environment and we have the backing of FireEye consultant and professional services should we need their assistance,” elaborated Berensmann.

Everybody Wins in a Great Relationship

Another significant achievement has been the recent announcement of Berensmann and his colleagues being declared a runner-up in the coveted SC European Award for Best Security Team in the region. He stated: “The nomination and ultimate outcome makes us very proud and confirms that we made the right decision to partner with FireEye.” To further complete the evening, FireEye won the highly competitive award for Best Email Security Solution at the same event.

Stiftung Wagerenhof provides sanctuary for disabled citizens – both children and adults – and removing the worries of having personal information compromised makes an immeasurable contribution to the peace of mind of the Foundation’s residents and staff.

Berensmann concluded, “Our partnership with FireEye demonstrates that even complex IT environments can be managed in a very professional, efficient and secure manner with only a very small number of staff. This is critical in helping to fulfill the mission of Stiftung Wagerenhof.”