Case Study

Online Content Specialist Boosts Security With Splunk Cloud

Executive Summary

As a search engine optimization and content marketing performance company, BrightEdge needs to ensure its 1,500-plus global customers trust its award-winning software as a service (SaaS) platform, so maintaining a secure environment is paramount. That’s why BrightEdge uses Splunk Cloud running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for security information and event management (SIEM). Since deploying Splunk solutions for analytics-driven security, the company has seen benefits including:

  • Correlation with multiple data sources and no need to build multiple apps
  • Seamless integration with Salesforce.com and other cloud applications
  • Helps compliance with ISO 27001 and other security standards
Challenges
    • Limited visibility into logs
    • No correlation with multiple data sources
    • Need to maintain security with lean IT resources
Business Impact
    • Immediate impact, time and headcount savings compared to generic log management
    • Discovered unauthorized access attempts and malware
    • Smorgasbord of apps and add-ons for integration with other workflows
Data Sources
    • Server logs
    • AWS CloudTrail
    • VPC Flow Logs
    • Amazon Inspector
    • OSIDS (Open Source Intrusion Detection Systems)
    • Rapid7
    • Salesforce
    • Dropbox

Why Splunk

“In this age of cybersecurity threats, you don’t know what vulnerabilities you may have,” explains Jae An, BrightEdge head of information security. In addition to a mix of vulnerability scanning and anti-malware tools as well as its own software, the firm relies on an incident response process to monitor operations, detect problems and respond quickly. Rather than waiting until a customer encounters a website problem or a denial-of-service attack threatens, BrightEdge has Splunk Cloud, a companywide solution for log management and real-time security investigation.

“As a cloud-first company without a large IT department, we use pretty much all of the best-of-breed SaaS products, from NetSuite as a financial system to BambooHR for human resources,” An says. After evaluating tools including Loggly and Sumo Logic, An says, BrightEdge realized that Splunk Cloud, “is not just a SIEM system; it’s a platform with an app for almost everything that I need.”

After purchase, Splunk Cloud was up and running within a day, giving visibility into logs and correlation with multiple data sources that BrightEdge’s previous solution couldn’t offer: “If I had to use Graylog to do what I’m doing with Splunk Cloud, I would probably have to build at least five different applications on my own and hire another two headcounts,” says An.

Protecting customer data in the cloud

Like many other midsized businesses, BrightEdge relies on Salesforce.com for customer relationship management, and the Splunk App for Salesforce to gain insight into the CRM platform’s adoption, usage and security.

“We recently had one of our employees compromise her access,” An recalls. “She didn’t know that she had an issue until an (unnamed) organization tried to use her credentials to access our Salesforce application. Splunk Cloud detected that immediately, and we were able to respond quickly so we didn’t lose any data.”

Similarly, Splunk Cloud detected that two end-user computing devices in the office were vulnerable to threats, after talking to hostile websites outside of the organization. Initially, security team members suspected that two employees might have been browsing inappropriate websites, but not only was that not the case, they weren’t even using their computers at the time of the breach. It turned out that it was only when the PCs were idle that they were talking to malicious websites in a UDP channel. An and team realized that, “The endpoint security software we had at the time didn’t detect the malware, so we immediately replaced it. Without Splunk Cloud we probably wouldn’t have known.”

“They asked about its cost in the beginning, but a few months ago, Splunk Cloud helped us stop a data breach. When that happened our execs, our CFO and everybody, said, ‘Oh, I get it.’ So yes, our Splunk investment has definitely paid off.”



Jae An,
Head of Information Security, BrightEdge

Bringing SIEM within reach

SIEMs can take a long time to get up and running. According to An, “Implementing a security incident response and threat monitoring system can take months, or sometimes in large organizations, even up to a year.”

However, midsized and smaller organizations are generally more agile and need to deploy a system right away. Combining Splunk Cloud with available apps is the most direct path to a quick solution. “It can be customized as needed, without having to reinvent the wheel.”

When using a prior homegrown tool in the past, a typical security investigation involving large logs and text files would take days. “Now I can do a security investigation in less than an hour. I can’t believe what Splunk Cloud can do; it’s achieving the impossible,” comments An.

“Now I can do a security investigation in less than an hour. I can’t believe what Splunk Cloud can do; it’s achieving the impossible.”



Jae An,
Head of Information Security, BrightEdge

A security Swiss army knife

Looking ahead, An anticipates bringing online the Splunk Add-on for Symantec Endpoint Protection, fine-tuning its use of the Splunk App for AWS and refining the automated monitoring and intelligent alerts that help the company keep its ISO 27001 compliance.

“A resource like Splunk Cloud helps me do my job and enables our organization to be compliant. Without it, I could not be responsible or accountable for security within BrightEdge,” An concludes.