Our users, support team, and even our citizens have gained heightened awareness of e-mail security. I would definitely recommend Check Point Harmony Email & Collaboration. It’s easy to deploy and use and we’re looking forward to continuing implementing new features.”
– René Ellersgaard, Systems Engineer, Aalborg Municipality
Seeking consistent, outstanding e-mail protection
The Aalborg Municipality IT team supports users and systems across more than 800 locations. Approximately 17,000 users work from a wide range of devices. In all, the IT team manages 19,000 individual and shared mailboxes—as well as the municipality’s Microsoft 365 solution. Users access Outlook e-mail and Teams collaboration applications either directly from their devices or through a browser on tablets, mobile devices, and thin clients. Regardless of device, everyone is targeted by high volumes of phishing and Business Email Compromise (BEC) cyberattacks. Users required continuous assistance in determining whether to open e-mail messages, creating a burden on the support team.
The municipality had been using Microsoft Defender for e-mail security, but when it was time to renew the license, coverage terms had changed. Tablet, thin-client, and mobile users no longer had the same level of protection as users who accessed e-mail directly from desktop systems. The subscription cost also increased significantly.
“First, we needed to ensure consistent e-mail security for all users while remaining cost effective,” says René Ellersgaard, Systems Engineer at Aalborg Municipality. “At the same time, we wanted to relieve the burden on our support team by making it easier for users to manage quarantined e-mail. We began considering new e-mail security solutions.”
Outstanding e-mail security and cost effectiveness were Aalborg Municipality's primary considerations. A new solution had to be easy to use for end users and the support team. Aalborg Municipality also wanted seamless integration with Microsoft 365 and its cloud-based IT system management (ITSM) solution. Finally, the team wanted to work with a known, trusted vendor.
“We evaluated several solutions, including Microsoft, and Orange Cyberdefense, our Managed Security Service provider, told us about Check Point Harmony Email & Collaboration. After talking with other partners and doing further research, we decided to implement a Proof of Concept”, says René Ellersgaard.
Easy setup and use
Working with Check Point Professional Services, Aalborg Municipality initially tested Harmony Email with 80 users and mailboxes. One week later, they expanded the test to 2,000 users and then to 4,000 users. After four weeks everyone across the municipality was enrolled.
Harmony Email & Collaboration provides complete protection for Microsoft 365, as well as Google Workspace and other collaboration or file-sharing apps. It blocks advanced phishing, malware, BEC, account takeover, and ransomware attacks before they reach users’ inboxes, and it protects sensitive business data from leaving the organization. Organizations typically experience a 99% reduction in phishing attacks that reach mailboxes.
“Implementation went great - we were up and running within a day. Over the next few weeks as we expanded coverage, we also integrated Harmony Email with our ITSM solution. With a few tweaks, Harmony Email worked seamlessly in our organization”, says René Ellersgaard.
Harmony Email & Collaboration integrates with Aalborg Municipality’s ITSM product to automate review of suspicious e-mails. When users are notified that they have a quarantined e-mail, they can decide to release it or not. If they decide to release the e-mail, just a click automatically creates a ticket in the ITSM. A support team member looks at the questionable e-mail and decides whether it is safe to release.
“ITSM integration is the key to our success. “It gives users the power to decide whether to accept an e-mail or not—which greatly reduces the number of calls for support and enables quick response. The integration also gives us the opportunity to have a dialog with our end users and provide additional education on threats”, says René Ellersgaard.
Protection for everyone
Harmony Email now protects all Aalborg Municipality's users, whether they use Outlook e-mail, web access without an Outlook client, or Microsoft Teams. Built-in AI capabilities continuously scan inbound emails using contextual analysis, anomaly detection, and anti-phishing algorithms to detect BEC and employee impersonation. Harmony Email then creates custom threat profiles by learning communication patterns, relationships, and historical e-mails within users’ inboxes.
“Users embraced Harmony Email and found it easy to use. “Now they’re notified of a suspicious email and can decide whether to release it. They have better awareness of e-mail security because they are involved in the decision process, says René Ellersgaard.
Reduced support time
Before Harmony Email, the support team had little visibility into threats while having to make decisions about which e-mails to release. Now the team now can see the types of e-mails coming in and is highly aware of current spam campaigns and the current threat landscape.
“Harmony Email requires minimal effort from our support team. We’ve gone from 20-25 release requests per day from users to one or two. When we do see a request, our team can quickly discern harmless e-mails from real threats”, says René Ellersgaard.
As the AI capabilities of Harmony Email learned the Aalborg Municipality’s e-mail patterns, users and the support team gained valuable awareness of e-mail safety and current cyberthreats. As a result, users are more aware of sensitive data that citizens send in e-mails to the municipality. They have begun helping citizens understand the risks of sending sensitive data in e-mails and suggesting better ways of sharing that data.
“Our users, support team, and even our citizens have gained heightened awareness of e-mail security”, says René Ellersgaard.
What types of organizations/companies would benefit from a similar solution?
According to René Ellersgaard Checkpoint Harmony Email and Collaboration is particularly relevant for companies and organizations that have a high degree of confidential and sensitive data, such as personal information about customers, citizens or patients. It can be companies of different sizes within different industries, e.g. the financial and healthcare sectors, retail trade, manufacturing companies, public institutions and many others.
“Overall, Checkpoint Harmony Email and Collaboration is a solution that can help organizations streamline their security and communication across collaboration platforms. I would definitely recommend Check Point Harmony Email & Collaboration. It’s easy to deploy and use and we’re looking forward to continuously implementing new features”, says René Ellersgaard.
A strong partnership and collaboration with Orange Cyberdefense and Check Point “Orange Cyberdefense has throughout the whole process from counseling, installation, implementation, and the follow-up shown they have a good technical understanding of our installation, and business needs and goals. We found the installation to be easy to do, this was done onsite with technical support from Orange Cyberdefense. Within a day we were up and running. We did not experience implementation as a challenge. Within a few weeks, we had rolled out the product to the entire organization. We also managed to integrate the product with our ITSM solution”, says René Ellersgaard.
And when it comes to service and follow-up, Aalborg Municipality is also highly satisfied with Check Point and Orange Cyberdefense.
“After the implementation of the solution, we were in close contact with Check Point support to ensure direct access to technical resources – with Orange Cyberdefense on the sidelines. Overall, we have a good collaboration with a reliable supplier who, for us, has a good track record in similar projects”, says René Ellersgaard, and he continues:
“I would like to highlight three important factors that have made the cooperation with Orange Cyberdefense successful:
Firstly, we have experienced a close collaboration with a committed partner who has a good understanding of our organization and our needs. This means that the solution has been adapted precisely to our requirements and wishes.
I also want to mention the quick response. Orange Cyberdefense has always been available when we had questions or problems – and they have solved all challenges with great expertise and efficiency.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that everything has always been followed through with no loose ends. Orange Cyberdefense has been dedicated to ensuring that our implementation has been carried out to our full satisfaction and they have always been willing to go the extra mile to ensure that our requirements were met.
Aalborg Municipality is located in the North Jutland Region of Denmark and is the country’s fourth-largest city.