Customer Story

Leading Austrian Feed Producer Relies on Cloud-Based IT Security to Ensure Business Operations Around the Clock

Garant Tiernahrung is the leading Austrian producer of animal feed, with three locations in Pöchlarn, Graz and Aschach an der Donau. The wholly owned subsidiary of Raiffeisen Ware Austria AG is responsible for the large-scale supply of feed to farm animals in Austria.

The biggest IT security challenge that comes with such responsibility is ensuring production around the clock, seven days a week. “We are a medium-sized company with just under 200 employees,” explained Markus Hinterndorfer, Head of IT at Garant. “At our three sites, we produce around 380,000 tons of animal feed per year in a 24/7 operation. For us, everything depends on production running uninterrupted. Even routine maintenance is planned well in advance at our company and must be completed within a certain timeframe. We are a preliminary stage of the food industry and therefore have to meet very high requirements.”

Under these special conditions and to protect itself against modern attackers and their tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs), Garant decided to acquire a new security solution that would successfully combine its diverse security requirement. In addition, the company sought to reduce its administrative efforts. Since the previously used product not only relied on quarterly updates that required rebooting all servers, but was also signature-based and thus vulnerable to modern attacks, Garant decided to go with CrowdStrike’s cloud-native next-generation solution. An immediately visible benefit of the CrowdStrike solution was that the number of exceptions required within the endpoint solution was reduced from 300-350 to three.

For Hinterndorfer and his team, another plus for the CrowdStrike solution was the platform’s use of artificial intelligence (AI). “We have already had very good experience with AI in the area of network security for four years,” he said. “For us, it was a logical step to also bring AI to our endpoints with CrowdStrike.”

Garant Relies on the Cloud to Protect Its Production

The rollout of the CrowdStrike solution was extremely straightforward. Thanks to deployment via MS System Center, Garant was able to automatically roll out the lightweight CrowdStrike agent on 300 endpoints within a week without rebooting. Even parallel operation with the old security product during the transition phase caused no problems, which surprised Hinterndorfer and his team as they had expected complications here: “A golden rule in IT always says you don’t know how more than one endpoint product will affect the same device. But with CrowdStrike running in parallel with our old product, there were no problems.” As an additional benefit, the CrowdStrike agent will automatically be installed on any new machine or server as soon as it joins a domain.

Rolling out the CrowdStrike solution to plant control machines, which by policy are not allowed to have access to the internet, was also much less complicated than anticipated. Configuring the firewall to allow communication exclusively with CrowdStrike hosts ensured that the machines could still be connected to cloud management.

Unexpected Use of Technology

Hinterndorfer and his team have found that the CrowdStrike solution serves another purpose in addition to its security functions: “We realized very quickly that the fact the solution analyzes and provides an extremely large amount of data also makes it an excellent tool for administrative purposes. For example, we can now see who moved a file or directory and where they moved it to. Or which software versions are installed on which system. This has made inventory much easier for us.”

Garant is very pleased with the new solution. “Sure, there’s never 100 percent security,” Hinterndorfer said. “But with our combination of AI in the network and at the endpoint, we already have a much better feeling than before with the purely signature-based product.”

We no longer have to worry about an employee leaving the company premises with their device and working from a hotel or from home. I can definitely sleep more soundly now.
Markus Hinterndorfer , Head of IT
Garant Tiernahrung