In November 202, Lineas – Europe’s largest private rail freight operator – fell victim to a cyber attack. Highlighting the dangers of cyber threats to transportation companies. To promptly halt the attack and prevent future occurrences, Lineas sought the expertise of Okta and their Elite Partner Upright Security.
As technology advances, cyberattacks are becoming frequent and sophisticated. Posing a significant threat to businesses worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this trend, with new technologies and flexible working practices increasing the vulnerability of governments and businesses.
In November 2020, Lineas – Europe’s largest private rail freight operator – was targeted in a cyberattack. Highlighting the dangers of cyber threats to transportation companies. To promptly halt the attack and prevent future occurrences, Lineas sought the expertise of Okta and their Elite Partner Upright Security.
As part of a wider digital transformation, Lineas was already improving their cybersecurity together with the Okta identity and access management experts within Upright Security.
“Prior to the attack, we devised a strategic roadmap to tackle current challenges and overhauled the Identity and Access Management (IAM) elements of the IT architecture. This enabled us to respond promptly to the cyber attack.” Bart Cools, Managing Partner at Upright Security, explains.
Due to the unusual circumstances of the implementation process, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) was firstly implemented to safeguard the compromised app. This minimized the risk of account takeover and bolstered user security. This entailed migrating around 2000 staff members, including train drivers, technicians, and station staff – overnight. “Our infrastructure was designed to be easily accessible remotely, but that left us very vulnerable without Multi-Factor Authentication.” Christophe adds.
After the cyberattack was mitigated, the subsequent measure was to establish a future-proof security system to avert future occurrences. “Okta totally fit the bill. Its high data availability and resilience is exactly what we needed” Christophe clarifies.
Today, Lineas has successfully safeguarded all 53 of their applications, including AWS and Salesforce, with Okta Single Sign-On (SSO) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). As new apps are introduced, they are added to the Okta structure, allowing staff to access their regularly used apps via the Okta portal. MFA authentication is mainly carried out using the Okta Verify app, with office staff averaging around one authentication per day, while some train drivers and ground staff prefer SMS due to the nature of their work.
“Despite the additional steps the staff needs to follow, feedback from colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive“, according to Christophe.
He adds, “prior to Okta, password management and authentication was a disaster. We’ve only recently implemented the Okta password change process, and it’s been a big success. I’m a big advocate for the Verify app, as it’s transparent and quicker to use.“
Following the cyberattack, Lineas has greatly improved their protection against cyberattacks, resulting in significant financial benefits (as the average cost of a data breach in Europe is around €3 million). “The implementation of Okta was without a doubt the best choice we could have made.” Christophe says. “I truly can’t imagine what life would be like if we ripped it out and started doing it all like we did before. When I mention Okta with the board, they still think about November and how quickly we were able to respond.
Lineas plans to expand their use of Okta services, including enhancing the Lifecycle Management of their 0365 accounts to better manage licensing costs in the long term. They also plan to implement Advanced Server Access for Zero Trust SSH and RDP access to servers in the future.
“I’m confident that further integration and automation with Okta is the way forward for Lineas” Christophe concludes. “Using Lifecycle Management to create better on- and off-boarding processes and experiences is just one of the ways we plan to optimize our efforts with Okta in the future. Advanced Server Access will also be a priority for us.”
Bart agrees “thanks to the massive benefits of Okta, we’re able to deliver high-quality services and respond very fast when urgent attacks occur. We offer a really lightweight service where we hop on a call and onboard an application within the hour,” he says. “And that’s the real benefit of Okta and its SaaS nature, which allows us to provide rapid support at a really low cost.”
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