Saudi manufacturing firm Jam Joom Pharma needed to secure its network from the triple threat of spam, malware and excessive bandwidth usage. It turned to Cyberoam for its trademark UTM devices.
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Saudi manufacturing firm Jam Joom Pharma needed to secure its network from the triple threat of spam, malware and excessive bandwidth usage. It turned to Cyberoam for its trademark UTM devices. Imthishan Giado reports.
For a network administrator, control is everything. From the routers to the switches to the temperature of the servers, the network admin knows that his domain is not a democracy. If one is to maintain a high standard of efficiency, it’s necessary to put controls in place to ensure that things move along smoothly.
Unfortunately, users are the fly in this ointment. Unable to predict their movements, the admin can often only watch in horror as they visit unauthorised websites, spend hours watching bandwidth-hungry videos on Youtube and then download system-destroying malware to top it all off. For Saudi Arabian pharmaceutical outfit JamJoom, it was a uneasy state of affairs that had to be curtailed to improve its productivity.
To bring his errant users to bear, Khurram Zahoor, network administrator at Jamjoom Pharma decided to implement a unified threat management system from network security specialists Cyberoam. The firm’s main head office and manufacturing facilities are located in Jeddah and runs Oracle ERP system to control assets and the flow of information. Zahoor reveals that this means Jamjoom only requires a relatively diminutive IT staff, although this situation is set to change shortly.
“Right now the IT staff in Jamjoom consists of around six people, including an IT manager, developers, myself as network administrator and technical support engineers. With our planned expansion due to our current growth, we will be soon hiring new staff. Within our factory area, we have around 200 machines. In the Kingdom we have 15 locations in total,” he says.
“We found that placing no controls on employee surfing activities was adding to our ISP bills because of the huge volumes of data transferred and bandwidth wasted in non-productive work. Moreover, we were losing plenty of man-hours that could have been channelled into business efforts,” he says.
Prior to the implementation of the Cyberoam boxes, Zahoor and his team relied on the protection afforded to them by their ISP, SaudiNet. Quickly however, they realised that this was insufficient and unruly employees were only one part of the problem. The clue is in Jamjoom’s primarily line of business – pharmaceuticals. Anyone can guess what that means – tons and tons of spam.
“For dealing with spam we are using the Cyberoam spam engine, because we are running our own Exchange server. From the beginning, we got a lot of spam messages via the Exchange server. Before the Cyberoam installation, we were receiving something like 20,000 to 50,000 messages. Sometimes I received even as much as 70,000!” he exclaims.
“Since we are a pharmaceutical company, we are a big target for spam, junk e-mail and a lot of viruses. But now that we’ve put the Cyberoam devices in place, we are not facing any further problems with these sites. We don’t have too much bandwidth to spare – it’s only a four megabyte connection. But we found that we were still wasting one megabyte of this bandwidth [on spam],” he continues.
Zahoor first began the process of implementing the boxes in 2007. The selection process was relatively straightforward, and implementation took just six days to complete.
“I took a Cyberoam unit for demo purposes,” he says. “I also checked with some of my friends who are already using these devices and had good experiences. Then I directly contacted Cyberoam in India, which arranged with the Saudi distributor Sariya IT to provide me with a demo unit for 30 days, free of charge. Web filtering, anti-spam, anti-virus – I tested everything and then decided to purchase the device. Since then, it’s worked fine. Now I have around four boxes on site and in the future I plan to have six boxes present,” Zahoor goes on.
The difference has been marked and immediate. Viruses and malware are now stopped at the gateway level while more than 98% of all spam is being trapped as well. What’s more, the UTM boxes are now able to control bandwidth far more effectively and transparently.
“The difference is that now using the bandwidth policies, I will distribute it like any kind of user. I can for instance assign a certain user a bandwidth of just 64kbps, so the overall usage is not too much. Managers can get 128kbps and so on. Thankfully, the internet speed is very smooth after the Cyberoam installation. It’s saved us money as well,” confirms Zahoor.
“Before, we didn’t have any restrictions on downloads through P2P software such as LimeWire. I faced a lot of problems from the user side. After they download these files, they don’t know that there may be viruses contained within them. Then, the machine starts hanging and in some cases, the hardware may even be damaged. That’s why we needed to implement the policy. Now all I have to do is establish a policy and they can’t download anything beyond the policy limit – if they are limited to 50MB, that’s all they can download, that’s it,” he says.
The next step for the Cyberoam implementation is to order the six new devices, which he has slotted in for the post-Eid period. However, while he’s settled on the number of devices, the configuration and model have yet to be determined.
“There is different devices. For the main console, we are using 250i which is very expensive. But since we don’t have too many staff members in the Dammam office, perhaps only six or seven people in total onsite – we can go ahead and use a model like the 25i. The cost of such a device is around $1333. If we had to go for a 250i or a 500i, the cost is very high,” he explains, adding that the new devices will go live in October.
Many have often wondered how support is handled for devices like the Cyberoam, especially considering that the support comes from the geographically-distant India.
Zahoor relates his experiences: “Normally, I would go to chatrooms where Cyberoam support is available. If there is any complaint with the devices in my experience within 20 minutes they will call me directly. Sometimes they will take the remote access option to get into my devices and solve the problem.
“This is the first time I’m using these kinds of devices. Before, I was using Cisco ASA firewalls. But there were problems site-to-site with things like dropped connections, missed packets. I don’t have any problems with the Cyberoam at all,” he concludes.