Forward-Thinking Law Firm Keeps Ransomware at Bay with Microsegmentation
Duane Morris LLP is an internationally respected law firm with offices throughout the United States, United Kingdom, and Asia. With roots in Philadelphia, PA, Duane Morris has spent more than a century working to find innovative and intelligent solutions to its clients’ legal challenges.
Due to recent catastrophic ransomware attacks on law firms, Duane Morris LLP wanted to better secure their organization and client data overall.
Solution at a Glance
Micro-segmentation via a VMware NSX deployment.
It wouldn’t be possible for a law firm to achieve the kind of sustained growth Duane Morris has without first earning the trust and respect of clients. One way in which the organization has done that is by opening itself up to feedback from those it serves. Something that comes up time and again with clients is cyber security. Clients entrust their legal representation with a tremendous amount of sensitive information and there is an expectation that their data will be kept safe.
The security conversation wasn’t being driven strictly from outside the organization. Duane Morris watched as global ransomware attacks such as WannaCry and (Not)Petya, paralyzed organizations across all industries, including legal. In one particularly painful example, a global law firm was left without full email or telephone service for days following a catastrophic ransomware strike. With its communication capabilities decimated, the firm scrambled in search of extensions for its vast array of cases. This disaster, coupled with its own internal desire to better its security aptitude, led Duane Morris to consider its options.
For a law firm, client trust is everything. As the threat of ransomware loomed over Duane Morris, they wanted to ensure their client’s private data would be protected.
The solution that most captured the firm’s attention was microsegmentation. One analogy for microsegmentation is that of an office building. Many buildings require someone to scan a badge at the front desk in order to gain admittance. However, once inside, that person doesn’t have unfettered access to every section of the building. There are invariably some areas that require additional clearance in order to enter. By subdividing its data center into smaller, restricted elements in this same way, Duane Morris would essentially gain additional lines of defense so that, in the event attackers breached its perimeter, their reach would be limited.
As a longtime VMware shop, the NSX solution seemed an excellent fit for the organization’s microsegmentation needs. Duane Morris engaged Arraya Solutions, its data center and virtualization partner, to help it explore more fully whether a VMware NSX deployment would be the right fit for the its unique needs.
This process began with a pilot program that Arraya’s engineers helped Duane Morris deploy and oversee. During this initiative, Duane Morris and its team saw firsthand the benefits of NSX microsegmentation. This included security policies aligned specifically to virtual networks, virtual machines, and more. NSX also supported dynamic policy enablement, meaning policies could be automatically tied to virtual machines right away and would follow them until they were decommissioned. This ensures gaps don’t open up during any point of a virtual machine’s lifecycle and that the rules governing them remain up to date. Furthermore, NSX is capable of tying into existing data center infrastructure, making it a secure, operationally efficient solution.
After seeing the benefits of the solution firsthand, and the real-world consequences of cyber security failures, Duane Morris elected to proceed with fully rolling NSX out into its production environment. This process could pose challenges, however. Anytime the traffic flows within a network are changed or restricted in some way, it could result in critical systems finding themselves unexpectedly unavailable. As such, an approach is needed that considers the existing state of the network as well as the intricacies of microsegmentation.
Arraya’s Data Center team leveraged its in-depth knowledge of Duane Morris’s network as well as its partnership with VMware to ensure the most effective deployment. They were able to utilize a methodology designed to allow microsegmentation to be deployed in a manner that would make sure critical systems and apps continue operating without disruption or the need for modification. This methodology also left room to scale, letting Duane Morris easily, gradually extend the benefits of microsegmentation throughout its global production network.
After a pilot period with VMware NSX, Duane Morris rolled NSX out into its production environment. Arraya leveraged its in-depth knowledge of its network, as well as its partnership with VMware to make sure critical systems and apps continued operations without disruption.
Duane Morris’s microsegmentation initiative is still in its early stages; however, the results to date have been positive. Following the initial engagement, several of Duane Morris’ critical applications have been fully segmented while even more are nearing the final stages of the performance and availability assurance process. Once each of these elements can be guaranteed, they too will be completely migrated.
Overall, Duane Morris is looking to continue its partnership with Arraya and VMware while making use of the same methodical and repeatable approach employed by Arraya and VMware’s teams during the initial rollout. Due to this approach, the organization’s team can continue its efforts to better secure its environment against today’s most disruptive and painful cyber threats, including ransomware and its more destructive malware cousins.
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Duane Morris is better secured from today’s most disruptive and painful cyber threats so they can direct their focus on best serving their clients.