Kuala Lumpur (July 22, 2013) – Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Berhad (Great Eastern Life) is going beyond the normal scope of financial protection as they announce the partnership with Symantec Corporation to strengthen Great Eastern Life’s information protection with Symantec’s comprehensive suite of solutions, providing the key stakeholders of the organisation a peace of mind knowing that their information is protected.
With a history that spans more than 104 years, Great Eastern Life embarked on a brand repositioning last year as a Life company. This transition puts customers at large at the centre of the organisation’s heart, with much emphasis on data protection. It is critical for the organisation not just to deliver financial security but also data protection to its 2.9 million policyholders and 17,000 agents across Malaysia.
Coupled with the ever-changing threat landscape, evolving regulatory environment and rapid growth in the volume of data created daily, information protection is becoming an essential component of every business. In addition, the numerous regulatory requirements in Malaysia such as the emphasis on protection of personal information through the recent enactment of the Personal Data Protection Act 2010, has spurred the increasing focus on information protection at Great Eastern Life.
“In order to effectively meet the various requirements and expectations of our stakeholders, the IT department has a responsibility to proactively review and implement technologies that strengthen our company’s information protection posture. We have strong collaboration within the organisation, in terms of people and process, to implement the necessary measures,” said Vincent Chin, Great Eastern Life’s Senior Vice President and Head, Information Technology.
He added, “Great Eastern Life has a long standing and strong partnership with Symantec in information security, storage management and high availability. Symantec’s vision and leadership in information security and storage technologies complement Great Eastern Life’s IT objectives and business aspirations.”
Alex Ong, Symantec Malaysia’s Country Director said, “As the IT security landscape continues to evolve, companies need to be better prepared to protect their most critical business data with advanced technology. Great Eastern Life’s move to place information protection as one of their top priorities is commendable. Symantec’s long term partnership with Great Eastern Life in protecting their business’ critical information and policyholders is a demonstration of the strength of our technology and comprehensive product portfolio, trusted by one of the largest and oldest insurance company in Malaysia. We are committed to work with Great Eastern Life in continuing to provide leading solutions to ensure their IT infrastructure is resilient, flexible and well protected.”
Investing in Securing the Future
Great Eastern Life has set its sight on developing a good security culture in its business ecosystem, which includes its employees and business partners. “We conduct periodic security and compliance communication sessions to increase the awareness level on security and to empower our employees and business partners with best practices to stay safe online,” Chin said.
Such initiatives complement the information security systems and policies that the company has been implementing.
“Essentially, information security is beyond technology as it encompasses the management of people and business processes. The users in our business environment can be the strongest or the weakest link to information security, therefore developing a good security culture among users across our company is critical. This culture is in fact driven top-down in Great Eastern Life,” he explained.
In strengthening the information protection of its agency networks, Great Eastern Life has recently partnered with Symantec in offering Norton Internet Security to help its agency force enhance security on their endpoint devices. Chin pointed out that this is an important initiative as the agency network is a vital component to the company’s business ecosystem.
In addition, to ensure the best possible protection against new and evolving threats, Great Eastern Life had taken extensive initiatives on endpoint protection by standardising on Symantec Protection Suite and Symantec Mail Security to protect its desktops, laptops, and email infrastructure. Based on Great Eastern Life’s statistics, about 80 percent of their incoming email was spam, which could pose a security threat to their systems. The company has seen a notable reduction in spam since implementing Symantec Mail Security. In addition to reduce email server workload, Symantec’s security solutions also provide an overview of the state of security across the organisation.
As safeguarding customer data and ensuring data integrity are Great Eastern Life’s top priority, the company has selected Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP) and has implemented whole disk encryption for its PCs and Notebooks. According to Chin, “SEP has enabled us to enforce policy on USB usage besides disk encryption, protection against malware and network threats. With the SEP central console, we have visibility of the information security posture and status of protection for our PCs and servers. Symantec solutions combined with other security controls provide us with more comprehensive measures in information protection.
In terms of compliance, Great Eastern Life implemented Symantec Control Compliance Suite (CCS) to automate compliance checks for servers and databases. “Without the CCS tool, it is very laborious for us to perform “eye-ball” checks against hardening standards and known vulnerabilities. The introduction of CCS gives us better control of policies implementation. In addition, the centralised management console features provides a bird’s eye view of our IT compliance posture and enables our system engineers to respond quickly in identifying gaps,” Chin said.
Managing Information Growth Through Storage Management
With the rapid growth of information in businesses of all sizes, the cost of managing the information is also escalating. According to Symantec’s 2012 State of Information Survey, the total size of information stored globally by all businesses has reached 2.2 zettabytes.
Building on the company’s strong fundamental of IT infrastructure, Great Eastern Life is strengthening its storage management, consolidation and optimisation initiatives in addressing the rapid increase of information as a result of the expansion of the company’s customer base and agency network.
According to Chin, “Great Eastern Life has made significant investments over the last few years to achieve economies of scale and uplift its overall capabilities. The company has embraced new technologies and initiated strategic programs, which include being a part of its regional data centre consolidation, server consolidation, virtualisation, storage and backup consolidation.”
Great Eastern Life’s IT team today manages a total storage capacity of more than 200 terabytes residing on enterprise storage supporting well over 100 business applications. This has grown exponentially from 60 terabytes in a span of three years due to business growth and new business capabilities that leveraged on IT to provide the competitive edge.
Along with this exponential growth in storage came a new challenge to ensure backups can be completed within the allocated time and prevent using business hours for backup requirements. With Symantec NetBackup and Veritas Storage Foundation already in place at Great Eastern Life, this provides a resilient foundation for the company’s IT infrastructure to handle the growth and this was further enhanced with Symantec NetBackup Data Protection Optimization as the natural choice for data deduplication technology.
A proven solution with real-world deduplication ratios as high as 15:1, Symantec NetBackup Data Protection Optimization enabled Great Eastern Life to maintain the five hours backup window. Additionally, Symantec NetBackup Data Protection Optimization offers features to optimise resource utilisation by reducing energy consumption, data centre footprint and overall storage costs.
The adoption of Symantec NetBackup suite of data protection solutions enables the IT team at Great Eastern Life to perform effective daily operations as Symantec NetBackup provides a unified policy management that allows end-to-end management of the entire data lifecycle, with backup and recovery options to meet different business needs.
Looking ahead, Great Eastern Life is now working on the next wave of IT initiatives. This includes the possible adoption of private cloud solutions and software as a service (SaaS) to cater to its escalating IT resource requirements as a result of increasing business demands for IT services and its burgeoning pool of field agents which now totals more than 17,000. “We are monitoring these trends and technologies closely on how they can benefit our business. As a financial institution, we will apply stringent reviews on the security aspect of cloud solutions prior to any adoption,” said Chin.
For Great Eastern Life, having solutions that can provide comprehensive protection and strong vendor support are critical to ensure IT security, data privacy and scalability in storage management are effective, as the company continues to grow and stay at the forefront of the insurance industry.