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A new sheriff in town: why the city of St. Catharines turned to Darktrace to protect its digital assets

A new sheriff in town: why the city of St. Catharines turned to Darktrace to protect its digital assetsDefault blog imageDefault blog image
09
Aug 2022
09
Aug 2022

The City of St. Catharines is the largest city in Ontario, Canada’s Niagara Region. We strive to meet the needs of our over 140,000 residents. Cyber disruption could stop our municipality from functioning, so having a strong security stack is critical to our mission.

Globally, 44% of ransomware attacks target municipalities. In Canada, smaller cities have had to deal with increased attempts by threat actors to access information, without significant increases in security staff or budgets. 

Data breaches incur an average cost totaling $6.35 million CAD because of ransomware payments, fines for leaked personally identifiable information, or recovery costs. That number does not quantify the additional reputational damage, PR setbacks, and other repercussions. Instead of resigning ourselves to accepting a greater cyber-risk, we turned to Darktrace to protect our network, email, and Microsoft 365 Suite.  

How Self-Learning AI buys back time

I’m sure we as a municipality are grappling with the same issues that other cities of a similar size face from a budgetary standpoint. We do not have enough boots on the ground and our IT team is stretched thin. Investigating cyber security incidents takes a lot of time. We must find correlations between several old systems and manually go through security event logs to determine which incidents require follow-up. These factors greatly increased our response time.  

When we first implemented Darktrace, we immediately saw that it does all the heavy lifting for us when it comes to the analysis of breach events. The Cyber AI Analyst shows a granular breakdown of the digital traffic coming into and out of the City, all on a single screen. This helps us separate the meaningful data from the noise.

I now start all my investigations with the Cyber AI Analyst. It sets me up with actionable insights that ensure I focus my time and energy in the most productive ways.

Darktrace also saves my team time and labor when it comes to responding to incidents. When it does detect attacks, it autonomously responds in seconds to contain them without interfering with any normal business operations. 

We have been able to configure Darktrace’s settings to further streamline our workload. We’ve made several adjustments that reduce the number of helpdesk tickets my team receives, which ensures we’re spending our time on high-value work.

Darktrace not only makes up for the limited resources of our IT team, but also augments us. By simplifying our investigations and autonomously stopping attacks, Darktrace gives us more time to work on our other IT responsibilities without worrying about our security.  

Darktrace/Network brings visibility and defense 

Before Darktrace, we didn’t have visibility into the east-west traffic on our network. Once installed, it provided a view of traffic we had never anticipated, and we saw connections that we never even knew existed.  

Darktrace/Network has insight into every laptop, server, phone, and user. The Self-Learning AI learns the “pattern of life” of our organization, so that it can recognize unusual activity that indicates a cyber-attack. In the case of a serious emerging attack, Darktrace RESPOND can take precise actions to stop it while otherwise allowing normal digital operations.

Darktrace/Network maps connections made within our network, whether between users and servers or between devices. It sorts users into groups that behave similarly, making it more obvious if one acts unusually. Darktrace/Email and Darktrace/Apps extend this coverage to our email and Microsoft 365 Suite, respectively. In this way, Darktrace allows us to see comprehensively into end-user traffic. 

Darktrace can stop attempts to download malicious software, move malware laterally, upload private data, and everything in between. This means we are protected from attacks that are notoriously difficult to find, such as stealth attacks, machine speed ransomwares, insider threats, and zero-days.  

Darktrace brings peace of mind 

The Self-Learning AI has transformed my skepticism of AI into enthusiasm. I now see the possibilities with AI are limited only by one’s imagination, and the Darktrace team has harnessed it to create a great security tool.  

Darktrace has proven to be the addition we needed to keep our digital landscape secure while contending with the limitations of budget and staffing during a time of increasingly frequent attacks targeting municipalities. My team’s support for Darktrace has been outstanding, and we have no regrets. 

Darktrace gives us the assurance that no matter what rules we put in place regarding the flow of traffic on our network, it will always be present to reconfigure our defenses and safeguard our digital assets should an attack occur. It works 24/7, at machine speed, and augments our IT team. That defines peace of mind! 

More in this series:

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Darktrace cyber analysts are world-class experts in threat intelligence, threat hunting and incident response, and provide 24/7 SOC support to thousands of Darktrace customers around the globe. Inside the SOC is exclusively authored by these experts, providing analysis of cyber incidents and threat trends, based on real-world experience in the field.
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Wayne Racey
Manager of IT Operations, City of St Catharines (Guest Contributor)
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