How Lamb Weston is focusing on security instead of putting out fires

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels January 30, 2024
Summary:
The international food-processing company is using technology from security specialist Vectra to create a range of business benefits.

security
(Armin Hanisch via Freeimages.com )

Lamb Weston is a supplier of fries to major fast-food brands around the world. The 24/7 nature of the company and its global network of factories means it’s crucial the business has a reliable security process that helps ensure operational stability. 

Pascal Wolf, IT Security Engineer at Lamb Weston EMEA, says:

We’re really keen to have security in a good way. Our factories run pretty much on an automated process and the software is managing the fry lines. So if something happens there, we have a problem. When we can’t run the fries, we have to throw the product away – and that costs us a lot of money.

Wolf manages a small security team at Lamb Weston. He used to spend a lot of his working day “putting out fires”, where he would move from one situation to the next rather than being able to focus on forward-looking projects. 

The risks associated with growing geopolitical tensions around the world prompted the business to think about additional security-related products. As the management team saw the importance of cyber protection, the company scanned the market for potential solutions and analysed a number of products, before selecting specialist provider Vectra. Wolf recalls:

With Vectra, we saw pretty quickly that it was a really good product for us because it gives you an overview of everything that's happening. Also, if it's on-prem or if it's Microsoft 365 or Azure, it doesn't matter.

Wolf and his colleagues spent time with Vectra’s employees, who were able to explain quickly how the product worked and the benefits it would deliver. Lamb Weston ran a month-long, proof-of-concept study where the security team analysed the product. They saw how Vectra deals with cybersecurity issues:

The Vectra team said, ‘OK, this is something that's happening now. Let's see how we can just go and visualise that issue within the product.’ Within hours, we already saw those things happening because of the network detection tooling and we could see what those issues might mean for the company.

The proof-of-concept study proved the benefits of Vectra and the company has been using the technology since March 2022

Having Vectra on board means Wolf can spend more time on things that make a difference to the business:

It gives me time back to do the stuff I should be doing, which is about securing the environment and looking at configurations. Now, I can be more proactive rather than being reactive. Before Vectra, a lot of my job was about reacting to an alert. But now, I can just see things that are happening on the network and work out if it's something I should look at right away.

Reducing potential risks

Wolf says Vectra has become part and parcel of the IT security approach at Lamb Weston and is delivering a range of benefits:

I open Vectra when my work day starts. I have the portal in front of me and, at a glance, I can see what’s happening on the network because it shows me alerts that are in specific quadrants. So, I look at whether I have critical issues, highs, and medium to lows. And if I see I have a critical issue, I will look at it right away.

On a day-to-day basis, he uses Vectra to keep a careful eye on potential threats across the company’s on-premise and cloud-based environments:

I can see stuff happening in my environment that I didn't know before. If you use Microsoft 365, Azure and all their technology, it can be hard to get all the information out of all the portals for security. There’s so much information and it's not centralized. But within the Vectra console, I see stuff happening and can respond.

Wolf uses Vectra’s Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service to receive expert advice from the company’s experts. Vectra’s MDR service looks for signs of suspicious activity, and the experts contact Wolf's team to flag the most important incidents, which reduces the pressure on the internal security team:

It’s a really big help. If I see an alert, I can see all the information straight away that the MDR team gives me to work with. We also have the 24/7 MDR support, which helps me sleep at night because I know that everything gets checked all the time. If there’s a big priority, they will call us.

And there may be more to come. Lamb Weston is split into a European and US operation. Wolf has spoken with his US counterparts about the Vectra solution and believes there’s potential for the technology to become an enterprise-wide solution in the future:

We will have to look at the best products to use globally for the whole company within the next couple of years.

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