A permanent overview of Exmar’s infrastructure and data security
EXMAR is an energy value chain solution provider specializing in floating solutions for the treatment, transportation and transformation of gas. The company designs, owns and operates specialized maritime infrastructure, including a fleet of LPG vessels, an LNG carrier, FSRU and FLNG barges and offshore accommodation vessels. Its ship management company manages a variety of vessels for different owners.
EXMAR also has business interests in other companies, such as the offshore consultancy DVO, the specialized travel agency Travel PLUS and the marine and offshore synthetic rope manufacturer BEXCO. With its headquarters located in Antwerp, the group also has offices in China, Singapore, Italy, India, Argentina, Jamaica, Congo-Brazzaville and the USA. The ICT team is centralized in Antwerp. “We support the group with a team of only fifteen”, says David De Roock, ICT Project Manager at EXMAR, “but we rely on strong partners. We are always looking for the right expertise at the right price.”
Eye on integration
In 2017 and 2018, EXMAR implemented hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), based on the combination of Cisco HyperFlex and one of the Uptime Group expert centers. HCI allows the ICT team to keep an overview. The team also applies the same philosophy to security. “In the past, every security domain needed its own supplier and solution,” De Roock continued. “However you can no longer approach security in such a fragmented way these days. A global overview is necessary. But of course, that’s impossible to achieve when solutions from different suppliers don’t connect seamlessly.”
At EXMAR, this integrated approach was the starting point for a complete overhaul of the company’s security environment. Following the analysis of several vendors and solutions, EXMAR selected the combination of Cisco AMP and Cisco Umbrella, with an expert center of Uptime Group as partner. “Our previous antivirus solution had reached the end of its life cycle”, De Roock explained. “Our analysis of several different tools led us to select Cisco AMP, as it excelled in terms of protection against zero-day attacks.” At the same time, the solution offers forensic information about the intercepted threats.
Inside and outside the perimeter
The Cisco AMP with the Cisco Umbrella cloud security platform combination completely changes the approach from a security perspective. EXMAR has a lot of remote locations at sea and at various points in the world. In the traditional scenario, all data traffic would travel to and from the central data center in Antwerp. “We have employees working on our systems in every corner of the world”, said De Roock.“ It is not feasible to route all that traffic to Antwerp. That’s why we chose to organize security at the endpoint level. The antivirus solution is now the first line of defense, instead of the last one.”
EXMAR’s endpoint security is based on Cisco AMP, Cisco Email Security and a Cisco Umbrella client that is responsible for DNS resolution. “This way, we offer the same level of security both inside and outside the perimeter. We provide our employees abroad with a perfectly secure working environment, without any data traffic passing through the perimeter.” The solutions are linked to Cisco Talos, the security cloud platform from which Cisco continuously supplies its applications with the most up-to-date information about threats, security definitions and other data.
As a next step, EXMAR plans the implementation of Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE). “When Cisco AMP detects a problem, it immediately notifies us”, De Roock explained. “A manual intervention is still often required nonetheless to block the infected user’s network access. That may take some time in which malware can spread throughout the network.” Integrating Cisco AMP with Cisco ISE automates these tasks, saves time and avoids further contamination.
The implementation of Cisco ISE is the next chapter in EXMAR’s security plan. “There is an awareness of the risks and the potential danger of a data or system breach on EXMAR’s business”, De Roock concluded. “Without adequate protection and the necessary investment in risk mitigation, the financial consequences of a breach are serious.” EXMAR uses Cisco technology together with the group’s security expertise as well as ICT infrastructure support from other expert centers within our Uptime Group.