Case study - FrugalBrothers Software
For nearly 10 years, FrugalBrothers Software has been helping customers protect their email and fax securely, and tighten their network security – while keeping their IT admins happy in the proce
GFI partner puts customer nets on lockdown
The special arrows in Frugal’s quiver come from GFI Software, and the GFI Gold Partner now sells eight GFI products: GFI EndPointSecurity, GFI EventsManager, GFI FaxMaker, GFI FaxMaker Online, GFI LanGuard, GFI MailArchiver, GFI MailEssentials and GFI WebMonitor.
Mr. Naylor is president of FrugalBrothers Software and for over a decade he has helped thousands of clients deploy GFI’s solutions. He got to know GFI when he was CIO of Sycamore Funding, Inc. He started with GFI FaxMaker to automate and secure the company’s faxing system, and it’s been ‘game on’ ever since.
Right from the start, Mr. Naylor found GFI to be “easy to work with and outgoing. They helped us pick the right product and took their time helping us to use their product and work with the product unlike any other vendors. They were just great to work with.”
As a partner, the same attributes hold true. “I really like working with GFI – they work with the same type of customers that I work with – small to mid-size companies (SMBs), and have products that sell themselves. It was so very important they were very well known in the Windows community. They were everything I was looking for,” he added.
Today, the IT solutions provider offers everything from email protection, communication software, network protection, fax automation, security tools, and serves as a full service GFI partner.
Mr. Naylor got his start with GFI as a GFI FaxMaker customer, and today sells the on-premises and online versions to SMB customers in North America. With GFI FaxMaker, Mr. Naylor is able to “bridge older tech fax machines to newer tech such as email or electronic medical records systems.”
Many organizations rarely or never use fax these days, feeling it is passé, but there are plenty that rely on this ‘dead’ technology for critical communications with customers, clients, partners and vendors. Mr. Naylor pointed out that many of his customers still require fax and this is especially true for the legal, medical, finance and manufacturing markets.
For these customers, GFI FaxMaker is the perfect solution. The software is flexible, and can scale from small installs all the way up to multi-site operations, he said. It comes as a hosted app or on-premises solution, and can run on a virtual machine. With GFI FaxMaker in hand, anyone who needs a fax solution, “I can help.”
There are considerable savings involved. “GFI FaxMaker saves companies time because people don't have to run back and forth to the fax machine. It saves on a considerable amount of paper, it saves on not having all these fax machines sitting around the office. And the ability to print and fax from your desktop saves employees a lot of time,” Mr. Naylor explained.
There are considerable technical benefits as well: the software can be virtualized which makes it immensely flexible, it works with old analog phone lines, newer digital circuits, and with hosted communications. “Those tech benefits alone make GFI FaxMaker worthwhile for just about any type of installation,” Mr. Naylor said.
FaxMaker is also a breeze to integrate. “One of the cool things about FaxMaker is it works with any email server. It doesn't require any type of special integration – it works with all of them just fine,” Mr. Naylor said. That same snap-in quality is true for mobile devices. “FaxMaker doesn't need a dedicated client at all. As long as they can access their email, users can send and receive a fax from a phone, tablet, PC or whatever.”
Unfortunately, fax is a notoriously insecure way to communicate. After all, the document is sitting right there on the machine for all to see, unless the recipient is zealously standing guard. This type of approach is a compliance violation and privacy invasion just waiting to happen. Automated electronic faxing solutions like GFI’s eliminate that risk.
Compliance is critical to Mr. Naylor’s clients in the medical field, and those that require credit card security and must comply with PCI-DSS. With FaxMaker, users can get secure faxing and an accurate record of when a document was sent or received.
Network, server and end-user security are all critical to an organization. For Mr. Naylor, GFI LanGuard fits the bill.
The vast majority of successful hacks are against unpatched systems and with most businesses having heterogonous setups, it is more difficult than ever to have every system patched. This is where GFI LanGuard, which has multi-platform automated patching, steps in. GFI LanGuard also does vulnerability scanning so you know where all the holes are.
“The value [using GFI LanGuard] is keeping your networks up to date and fully patched. Plus it can scan the network for vulnerabilities – it gives your network administrator a lot of control and maintains a safe and secure network,” he explained.
Proper patch management can overcome a lot of problems due to lax installations and a lack of end-user and, sometimes, IT vigilance. “People don't always follow the rules when they are installing software that they perhaps shouldn't be, or simply not keeping their machines amply patched,” Mr. Naylor said, adding that this is a major hole that hackers love to exploit. “The bad guys have found third-party software is a major attack point in network security.” This isn’t just about peace of mind, it is also about the dollars and cents as the economic benefits of GFI LanGuard do add up.
“It keeps your networks secure; which keeps the bad guys out. It can cost a tremendous amount of money to fight a viral infection in your network. Just the tools and the forensics to fix a problem… can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Mr. Naylor said.
Technical benefits abound. “One of the beautiful things about GFI LanGuard is it’s very simple to deploy and to start scanning for vulnerabilities right away,” he said. It is also easy to add computer security groups. “GFI LanGuard makes it really simple and will get that return on investment going for your business very, very quickly.”
Companies that fall under compliance rules, such as medical concerns or public firms, need top computer security and robust patching. “These require an audit done on their implementation. They have to comply with certain safety standards for their customer data and that the networks are fully patched including third-party applications,” Mr. Naylor pointed out.
For Mr. Naylor customers, GFI LanGuard has truly come to the rescue, as it did when a credit union failed an audit and needed help. “They were in trouble and called me. We spoke about GFI LanGuard and we were able to demonstrate what GFI LanGuard could do, how to get it installed and up and running,” Mr. Naylor said.
Products such as GFI LanGuard have changed Mr. Naylor’s business. Frugal began as a broke/fix computer solutions company, which meant most of its income came from solving problems. “The more we got into our relationship with GFI, the more we partnered with them, the more opportunity I've seen in the network security space. It just snowballed,” Mr. Naylor said. His network security installations provide a valuable service. “I've seen what data breaches can do to a company – especially a small one. It will put them right out of business. The tools that the big guys have a lot of the small companies can't afford. GFI tools do most of what enterprise products do but at a fraction of the price.
Frugal Brothers also sells GFI EventsManager, a network event monitoring solution that analyzes event logs from firewalls and other devices, and dissects and prioritizes these events so IT can address the biggest problems first.
What does Mr. Naylor like about GFI EventsManager? “It helps companies keep a firm grip on their event logs, and to be notified of things like account locks outs or end users attempting to access files and folders they shouldn't.
GFI EventsManager has a number of technical benefits, especially in how one can analyze, manage and report on logs from devices such as firewalls. Manually working with these logs is time consuming, so often valuable insights are never unearthed because it takes too long. Mr. Naylor is particularly impressed with “its ease of use and the ability to customize it, and look for certain events. You can build custom reports for just things you are just looking for, and ignore all the noise that noisy Windows machines can make.”
Economic benefits to customers
Event logs can be extremely useful, providing details on hacker incursions and other anomalies. But that data is only useful if it is understood and that can take serious effort. GFI EventsManager can not only parse these for the relevant data, it will tip you off immediately when problems occur. “Digging into Windows event logs can take a tremendous amount of time. The ability of GFI EventsManager to send an alert right away when an event, such as an account lock out for a user, occurs can speed up things tremendously, saving the company time and money… and keeping their network more secure,” Mr. Naylor said.
Many Frugal customers, being in the areas of health care, legal, and financial, need to meet stringent compliance requirements, and this means needing security they can prove works.
“Generally they'll get GFI LanGuard and GFI EventsManager together as a package. When you are in the world of compliance, PCI compliance particularly and HIPAA, they have requirements. Event management is one, patch management (which GFI LanGuard provides) another. There's not one product that does it all. It’s layered security and the two work in conjunction,” Mr. Naylor explained.
GFI EndPointSecurity is largely aimed at preventing data leakage by controlling how devices, such as thumb drivers, USB hard drives, CD and DVD drives, and other devices that can hold data, function. Any device connecting via ports on your networks can be a route for data for leave the organization or for malware to find its way in. “EndPointSecurity makes sure a customer's data stays safe and onsite and that employees won't walk out of the office at the end of the day with customers’ data,” Mr. Naylor said.
This has a concrete benefit in terms of “keeping that data out of other people's hands; keeping private stuff private. You might have unscrupulous employees that will copy customer files, credit card info, drivers’ licenses and try to leave the premises with this. GFI EndPointSecurity prevents that. Who can afford a data breach or lawsuit because an employee decides they were going to take this info?” Mr. Naylor asked?
Tech benefits of GFI EndPointSecurity
One good measure of a product is the quality of installation, configuration and operation. “The biggest benefit is it’s so easy to use and set up with a simple web-based interface and a drag and drop way to work with the product. It is so simple there's no excuse for somebody not to be working with it in their business network,” Mr. Naylor argued.
Email is the lifeblood of nearly every organization. It can also be the number one route hackers take into the network. Locking down mail is an essential part of locking down your network, and that means stopping malware and putting an end to waves of spam reaching the company – spam that often contains viruses and attempts at social engineering or phishing. GFI MailEssentials not only handles these scourges, but it can be configured to prevent data leakage and block dangerous attachments.
“GFI MailEssentials is for companies that use their own mail servers and are trying to combat spam, viruses, and malware that come through email. This is a huge job for most companies and very expensive. GFI has made it very simple to do with GFI MailEssentials,” Mr. Naylor said. “It comes in several different editions: an anti-spam product; an email security product that allows up to five different virus scanners; and Unified Protection that combines both products into one.”
Spam is far more than a nuisance, it wastes valuable employee time, clogs mail servers with junk, and harbors malware. Getting rid of this garbage has positive economic benefits. “It saves you a lot of time. You don't have to read through a lot of spam in your email. Not to mention users can get a virus or an infection on the network that will start sending spam out. You don't want to get your domain black listed and not be able to send or receive email,” Mr. Naylor said.
GFI MailEssentials stops security problems before they happen. For those whose mail is not already protected, it can clean up the mess after an incident, Mr. Naylor said. “I've had companies where somebody brought in a CD or something they shouldn’t have [and used them] on the network. One got an infection which started going through their e-contacts and sending outbound spam through the email server. They got on a DNS blacklist because of it. They were pulling their hair out,” he said. “Fortunately we were able to get everything cleaned up with GFI MailEssentials, and they could use their email again.”
The early days of email were the wild, wild West – messages were read, passed around, and ultimately discarded. These days IT knows mail contains critical confidential data, offers a record of business and personnel dealings, and is a treasure trove of business intelligence.
Today’s IT pros know that mail archiving, using a product like GFI Archiver, is a great way to stay in compliance, retrieve seemingly lost messages, do proper legal discovery or prepare for an audit. Archiving can also help:
- Research the history and status of contracts
- Protect your intellectual property
- Maintain business continuity and recover quickly from a disaster
- Look into inappropriate or even criminal employee behavior
- Solve disputes
- Store mail and files safely with easy retrieval
Mr. Naylor knows all this and more. “Archiver offers the benefit of storing email for the long term. When companies rely on things like legal hold for lawsuits, the ability to quickly find and locate mail from current and former employees is a major benefit. Purging emails that you don’t really need – like when people pass a silly photo around -- is also very important. Archiver allows you to do that very quickly,” Mr. Naylor said.
Archiver proves its worth when it comes to solving problems. Mr. Naylor had one such experience when a customer faced a lawsuit over the alleged harassment of one employee by another. “With GFI Archiver, they located emails of the former employee and produced that as evidence in court. They did the right thing as a company,” Mr. Naylor recalled.
GFI Archiver can work the same magic on photos. “One of the big tech benefits of Archiver is the ability to archive the user’s photo structure. A lot of people are pack rats. On Outlook they create a lot of little photos. Being able to search for email based on those photos is important – GFI Archiver lets you do that,” he said.
GFI WebMonitor is an integrated suite of web defense tools, with the ability to thwart threats from malicious or misused web applications. GFI WebMonitor can be equipped with three leading antivirus (AV) engines, and state-of-the-art phishing protection.
Web applications are becoming increasingly dangerous. Some are malicious in their own right and WebMonitor can block access to these pests. Some web apps are dangerous if not used properly, such as Dropbox, and could lead to a higher risk of data leakage. WebMonitor controls how or when these apps are used, and does the same thing for social media sites.
“It’s so simple to set up to protect your network against your users going to websites they shouldn't –risking drive-by downloads, infected websites, or spending time on things like shopping sites,” Mr. Naylor said.
GFI WebMonitor has a number of organizational benefits such as enforcing acceptable use policies, preventing data leaks, and keeping shops out of trouble due to inappropriate and sometimes egregious content. It can also boost productivity and benefit the bottom line.
“I use the term ‘theft of time’ where employees are paid to work and instead are on eBay or Facebook. It costs a whole lot of money when they are doing things they shouldn't – not to mention the risk they pose by visiting malicious websites, inadvertently downloading things, and causing viruses and infections.” This doesn’t just waste time and create exposure – it chews up expensive bandwidth. Many customers turn to a solution like GFI WebMonitor when they are running out of bandwidth, suffering from data leakage, web-based security threats, or out-of-control users.
“The funny thing is every time I talk to a company about GFI WebMonitor they are already having issues. They're in trouble – that's why they are reaching out – why they are downloading an evaluation version. They know they have a problem. The stories are across the board, but it always boils down to the same thing – employees going to websites they shouldn't, and getting viruses they shouldn't have gotten,” Mr. Naylor said.
Customers have choices in deploying GFI WebMonitor. “There are two versions. There's a proxy version, and one for Microsoft ISA Server which not as many people use, but they're out there. There's a plug-in for that so it gives the network admin a lot of flexibility,” he explained. There is also fine-grained control such as the ability to easily put users into various groups by department, allowing them access to sites and services that others don’t have. This is a fantastic feature.
A true partnership
Mr. Naylor got to know GFI as CIO of Sycamore Indie Mortgage Co. where he chose GFI FaxMaker to automate and secure the company’s faxing – it’s been game on ever since.
Right from the start, Mr. Naylor found GFI to be “easy to work with and outgoing. They helped us pick the right product and took their time helping us to use their product and work with the product unlike any other vendors. They were great to work with,” Mr. Naylor said.
As a partner, the same attributes hold true. “I really like working with GFI. They work with the same type of customers that I work with – small to mid-size companies (SMB), and have products that sell themselves. It was so very important they were very well known in the Windows community. They were everything I was looking for.”
Just as Mr. Naylor considers himself a true partner with customers, he has the same relationship with GFI. One advantage is he can offer clients a broad variety of security and communications solutions. FrugalBrothers offers everything from “protecting our customer's email systems, communications or fax email, to patch management, making sure that their logs are properly managed, and endpoint security – making sure their customers or their users can't access things like USB ports or drives. We cover nearly everything a small business needs to protect their network.”
There is more to the partnership than technology. “They work with you. Unlike others, GFI takes the time to get to know its partners. They really know the word partner.”
All that has FrugalBrothers looking to expand this partnership. “We are looking at becoming a certified installation partner. That will help us not only sell software and consult, but help customers do the installation, training and customization of the GFI software.
GFI has done a lot to help FrugalBrothers expand its business. “They know in order for them to grow we have to grow. If they want to be successful, we have to be successful,” he said. Key GFI attributes include dedicated account managers, solid customer service and support, and tools to get the job done.
GFI future looks bright
Mr. Naylor has had years of experience with GFI, and is looking forward to more. “GFI stays on top. They have people dedicated to look ahead and see what's coming down the road. They are always trying to stay one step ahead – and develop products that they know our customers need,” he said. “I'm hoping to see big things. GFI has nowhere to go but up.
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