Mining group takes proactive steps to protect its information

“Protecting your IT network directly translates into protecting your business,” says Chris Smith, principal architect at Exxaro, one of South Africa’s largest black-controlled, diversified mining companies

April 12, 2011

“Protecting your IT network directly translates into protecting your business,” says Chris Smith, principal architect at Exxaro, one of South Africa’s largest black-controlled, diversified mining companies.

The JSE Limited listed company is at a high maturity level in terms of technology and has just completed a security upgrade with Datacentrix, a black empowered provider of high performing and secure ICT solutions.
According to Smith, it has been hailed as one of the great project achievements at Exxaro.

“As a widely spread, listed organisation, we take a proactive approach to information security and constantly look for vulnerabilities and risks. We firmly believe that IT security must be planned for upfront and thus took a firm stance on finding the right product and solution fit,” he says.

Exxaro’s long-standing strategic partnership with Datacentrix has seen the mining company opt to install McAfee software, implementing a complete security infrastructure that touches every end point within the organisation.

“After testing three alternative security solutions, McAfee came out tops,” says Smith. “It was to our advantage that Datacentrix is a McAfee elite partner, as they are also responsible for our outsourcing project and have previously been involved in our bandwidth upgrade project where they have proven to take ownership and accountability to ensure project success.”

Exxaro installed McAfee Endpoint Protection Advanced, Solidcore for Itanium servers, Foundstone, Web Gateway and Mail Gateway. The company has also rolled out protection to perimeter and edge devices. In the near future, it is looking at implementing Host DLP with the aim of protecting private information.

According to Stefan Jacobs, security software business development manager at Datacentrix, the project’s success can be attributed to the fact that it kicked off with proper planning and thought leadership.

“The security project posed challenges as there were timeline constraints and Exxaro’s existing license was near its expiry date. However, the software was rolled out to more than 5,500 users nationwide over three weeks with no issues,” says Jacobs.

Smith explains that the project team also tested every solution “to the nth degree” in a laboratory and if they pre-empted a problem that might occur during rollout, they examined three alternative solutions to the problem.
In addition, daily feedback meetings were held, involving all parties involved. “Planning, testing and managing are crucial to the success of such a project,” he says.

The biggest benefits, according to Smith, have been the ROI and a single view of compliance of the entire infrastructure. He says that these benefits are mainly due to the fact that Exxaro’s IT security has been woven into the DNA of the company’s infrastructure, which will result in lengthening the infrastructure’s lifecycle over the long term. “That is, by Exxaro proactively deploying a comprehensive IT security solution upfront, a reduced amount of wear and tear – generally created by viruses and resultant patches on the IT network – is ensured, resulting in a faster network with a longer lifespan that has a positive influence on our organisation’s productivity,” he adds.

“Our relationship with Exxaro serves to highlight Datacentrix’ end-to-end technology offering,” says Ahmed Mahomed, CEO at Datacentrix. “We have demonstrated that as a services oriented technology partner, in addition to meeting our customers’ diverse technology requirements, we also add tangible long term and strategic business value by providing the competencies and skills to drive long term success.”