4-page Case Study
Posted: 7/26/2012
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Actoz Soft Worry-free Email Security in the Cloud for Online Gaming Pioneer

In the past, the number of junk emails per day ranged from 50 to 100. After using Exchange Online, I can count the number of spam messages per a day on one hand.

Suk-Myung Song, System Team Manager, Actoz Soft

Actoz Soft, a pioneer of the online gaming industry in South Korea, has transferred email services previously hosted by its own servers to the cloud. Customer service for online games is mainly performed via email instead of through a call center. Due to the nature of frequent email communications with customers in the online gaming industry, hackers have targeted email as a preferred route to infiltrate malicious software.

Actoz Soft determined that the cloud has more advantages in several aspects, including cost, operation, and security, than the introduction of an in-house solution. Moreover, after comparing with other services, the company selected Microsoft Office 365 with Microsoft Exchange Online, because the service ensures reliable technical support.

Situation

Today, the hot topic in the Korean gaming industry—which leads the global online gaming market—is security. In recent years, personal data leakage has caused social issues, and companies have gotten in trouble due to unexpected security incidents. Because of this, security has become the top priority for those companies doing business on the internet.

Actoz Soft has been a pioneer of the online game development markets since 1996. It set security enhancement as the main goal of its most recent IT investment plan. The security enhancement plan was prepared through overall IT infrastructure, and included a piece on end-point security, to which the industry paid close attention. Since hackers usually use email as a route to plant malicious code, email security is a concern, and this concern is mitigated by the cloud.

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* We were examining Google Apps for Business since our company was already using it, when one of our software distributors happened to tell us about Office 365. From functional features to costs, Office 365 has lower fees and is competitive in terms of technical support which is available without additional payments.  *

Suk-Myung Song
System Team Manager
Actoz Soft

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For game companies, email is a key tool for their business and the primary channel for customer support. "By their nature, game companies receive a lot of emails from customers," says Suk-Myung Song, System Team Manager at Actoz Soft. "Customers who have inquiries related to games usually send an email with screen shot attached, so there is no way for the game manager to respond to them without opening the attached files. Due to the nature of communication with customers via email containing attachments, the IT managers always had concerns about malicious code," he adds.

In addition to emails coming from customers, emails coming in response to recruiting announcements were also subject to criticism. "After posting jobs on recruiting websites, there were often executable files attached to incoming emails. They look like a regular document file at first glance, but when you look closely at the lengthy file name, it is often an executable file," says Suk-Myung Song.

The email servers of Actoz Soft were not defenseless against emails that contained harmful files. They had been using a security solution called Mail Assassin, which checks emails before users open them, allowing email servers to prevent inflow of malicious code. However, it wasn't always sufficient to meet their needs.

It's becoming the zero-day attack era, and hackers are using techniques to make users open email attachments containing viruses after pretending to be a close friend. These techniques were coming day after day, causing the IT managers to shake their heads. Actoz Soft could no longer rely on free solutions. Therefore, the company examined the introduction of a dedicated security solution for their email servers in order to quickly respond to the latest hacking techniques.

Solution

To prepare in advance for implementing an enhanced security solution for its email servers, Actoz Soft requested quotes from several well-known solution companies. At the same time, it collected the relevant information needed to switch to a cloud service rather than email servers operated internally. The company wanted to investigate all variations of the two possible solutions. After struggling between the two approaches, Actoz Soft decided that the cloud is advantageous in many aspects including cost, operations, and security. The scope of finalists was then narrowed down to Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Business.

"We were examining Google Apps for Business since our company was already using it, when one of our software distributors happened to tell us about Office 365. From functional features to costs, Office 365 has lower fees and is competitive in terms of technical support which is available without additional payments," says Suk-Myung Song. It was far ahead in the security area as well. Google Apps was a burden for Actoz Soft to set up, since it required the company to unblock some ports on the firewall, which caused large IP bandwidth usage.

Since Actoz Soft has been contracting with Microsoft on an Enterprise Agreement, it received a discount on fees when it chose Office 365. However, the main reason to move to Office 365 was the reliability of the technical support. While Google Apps can provide technical support in South Korea, it requires an additional per-user fee for technical support, and leaves the work to local partners. With Office 365 technical support comes from Microsoft, and there is no additional fee.

After selecting Office 365, Actoz Soft started switching its email servers to Exchange Online with Microsoft Partner Feelanet. The total period of the project was two weeks: One week for the migration, and one week to clean up users' accounts. During the project, Actoz Soft gave users guidance about the backup for personal mailbox, and a notice to set their passwords again by logging in using a temporary password.

One Monday, employees at Actoz Soft went to work as usual, turned on their computer, and checked their emails through Outlook. As usual, they also read and replied to emails. Although a lot of things had happened during the move to the cloud, there were no differences apparent to the —they used email as usual without noticing any change.

Now that the migration id complete, Actoz Soft is planning follow-up projects. These tasks will be processed in terms of settings and will not be accompanied by extra development or modification.

“We are currently considering ERP tools and future payment processes in conjunction with Exchange Online," says Suk-Myung Song, "In addition, we're planning to contact the Microsoft Customer Support Center to ask for support tools related to Office 365, which will be able to answer to customers via Exchange Online." 

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* Users using Exchange Online didn't know what had been changed on the servers providing services to them. Since there were no differences in speed between our own servers and servers from the outside, users had no idea what had happened. However, they noticed right away that they can use a smart phone to check emails, and can access the website to use email even from home. *

Suk-Myung Song
System Team Manager
Actoz Soft

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Benefits

Freedom from malware

Actoz Soft was able to further increase its end-point security through Exchange Online for users' devices which are connected to the network. In the past, it was difficult to block attachments with strange behaviors or suspicious files or URLs in advance. Regardless of how good the security system inside of the company was, it's a challenge for any company to block them; however, Actoz Soft reduced the burden by using Exchange Online.

"Hackers have used email attachments as the preferred means of bypassing security for a long time. If users open attachments that infiltrate malicious software into the company, it causes problems like backdoors in an important system. Unlike email servers operated directly by the company, Exchange Online can reduce the risk of infiltration by malicious code since it transfers secure emails to users after deleting attachments with malicious code or URLs from the server," says Suk-Myung Song.

Spam decreased by 90%

Another highlighted effect of the enhanced security of Actoz Soft system is that the amount of spam is noticeably decreased. Actoz Soft has been really experiencing the effect of spam removal.

People think deleting spam is no big deal, but if one user spends 10 minutes deleting spam a day, that is significant. When taking into account aggregate time spent by the whole organization, it's quite a lot of wasted time to delete spam. Actoz Soft feels that Exchange Online gives significant reduction of spam processing time. "In the past, the number of junk emails per day ranged from 50 to 100. After using Exchange Online, I can count the number of spam messages per a day on one hand," says Suk-Myung Song.

Free mobile offerings

With respect to security, Exchange Online has presented new freedom for users. The system team at Actoz Soft previously allowed the use of web-based email only in particular cases such as business trips. Having used Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA) was provided to a few users for security reasons.

Access through mobile phones was also limited due to the security policy. After introduction of Exchange Online however, the doors of web and mobile have been opened to all users.

"Users using Exchange Online didn't know what had been changed on the servers providing services to them. Since there were no differences in speed between our own servers and servers from the outside, users had no idea what had happened. However, they noticed right away that they can use a smart phone to check emails, and can access the website to use email even from home," says Suk-Myung Song.

Decreased tech support stress

If they had used in-house security solutions, the Actoz Soft system team would have had more work to manage devices and services. Thanks to the introduction of Exchange Online, the email management effort of Actoz Soft System team is now zero. Minor inquiries are also significantly reduced.

In the past, though there wasn't a lot of time to manage email servers, they spent quite a lot of time to handle trivial help-desk style inquiries, like problems sending or receiving emails. These things are also being reduced one by one. In particular, time spent troubleshooting issues caused by mailbox capacities has been greatly reduced.

"Before, the mailbox capacity was limited to 500MB. If the capacity hit 450MB, we sent users a notification to clean-up files. Although they saw the notification, users usually wouldn't clean up their mailbox. Because of that, they would ask us about email problems later. When we went to them, we found that the capacity was a problem, so we helped them clean up their mailbox. However, Exchange Online provides 25GB capacity by default, so it's reduced time spent on technical support for the mailbox," says Suk-Myung Song.

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 brings together cloud versions of our most trusted communications and collaboration products—Microsoft SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online—with the latest version of our Office desktop suite and companion web applications for businesses of all sizes.

Office 365 helps save time and money, and it frees up valued resources. Simple to use and easy to administer, it is financially backed by a service level agreement guaranteeing 99 percent reliability. Office 365 features robust security, IT-level phone support, geo-redundancy, disaster recovery, and the business-class privacy controls and standards that you expect from a world-class service provider.

For more information about Microsoft Office 365, go to:

www.office365.com

For more information about Feelanet products and services, visit the website at:

http://www.feelanet.com/

For more information about Actoz Soft products and services, visit the website at:

www.actoz.com

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 120 employees

Organization Profile

Actoz Soft Co. Ltd. was founded as a pioneer of the online gaming industry in 1996. It continued growing as a global corporation through expansion into global markets North America and Asia.


Business Situation

Increasing security threats via email attachments meant that finding a solution for email security system was become imperative.


Solution

After considering many options, Microsoft Exchange Online was selected to replace the existing email environment and reinforce the security.


Benefits

  • Freedom from malware
  • Spam decreased 90%
  • Free mobile offerings
  • Decreased tech support stress


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Exchange Online

Vertical Industries
  • Professional Services
  • Media & Cable

Country/Region
Korea

Business Need
Business Productivity

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Feelanet

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