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Case study: Online gaming publisher focuses on its gaming community instead of dealing with internal spam

Grayling/Halon Security

After its employees endured too many email headaches, Spil Games migrated from Barracuda to Halon and eliminated spam along with the hassle of false positives for good

Spil Games

Spil Games is a Netherlands-based games publisher and leader in online casual gaming with one of the world’s largest online gaming platforms. Spil Games scouts for the best content from the world of online game developers to entertain its 180 million monthly active users. The company’s gaming platforms target girls, teens, men and women. Spil Games also develops its own unique content through its in-house game studios. Spil Games’ gaming platforms contain all the features and games players need to challenge themselves, share their creativity, and entertain themselves. Additionally, Spil Games is present on mobile devices through browser-based and native application versions of the company’s targeted online-gaming platforms.

The Challenge

Eliminating spam and false positives to Spil Games employee email accounts.

Recognized as one of the largest publishers in the world of online casual and social gaming, Spil Games welcomes over 180 million active users every month to its more than 40 gaming websites. As social gaming took off with the proliferation of mobile devices, Spil Games quickly grew in popularity. Coinciding with the growth in popularity, Spil Games employees began receiving a higher degree of spam email and became encumbered, making it more challenging to remain as efficient and productive in their work. Spil Games’ existing spam filters weren’t well prepared to handle large volumes of spam. Previously, Spil Games was using Barracuda Networks for Web and email security. Its filters didn’t automatically detect possible spam very effectively and placed a large burden on the employees to ensure that their email systems were working effectively. The company’s employees were finding spam emails in their in-boxes, and valid emails would sometimes end up in spam folders only to be deleted. The problem became too much to handle internally as the company grew. As a result, Spil Games personnel spent time constantly managing internal employee email lists in order to reduce spam and to ensure the lists were always up to date.  All the additional time spent on training personnel to do so came in addition to deploying Barracuda to handle the problem, which also took too many resources to keep updated. It soon became apparent that the company needed a much more hands-free, “set-and-forget” solution to address the issue. Enter Halon Email Security.

An Immediate Solution

Set-and-go solution solves problems instantly

According to Rogier Gerritse, Spil Games’ head of office IT, the company decided to seek an alternative to Barracuda, which just wasn’t working out. Spil Games first took a look at an email security application from Sophos, a UK-based security vendor, but didn’t feel it could deliver the performance that Spil Games required. Then Spil Games turned to Halon in November 2011. It found that the Halon Email Security solution was exactly what was needed.
With help from Halon’s support team, Spil Games was able to easily install Halon’s software solution and eradicate the spam problem.

We looked at 5 alternate solutions to Barracuda, but Halon stood out to us and came highly recommended from my peers,” said Gerritse. “Within half a day, all our problems were solved—just like that. Halon automatically terminated connections from known spammers and almost immediately all of the spam emails disappeared. We then spent another day working with Halon’s support team to fine-tune and customize the solution to our specific needs. From there on in, we haven’t had any problems. Our spam issues are a thing of the past.

One of the most valuable features Spil Games has found with Halon’s solution is its effectiveness in greylisting potential spammers. Possible spam email messages are temporarily rejected by the system and evaluated. In the case that they are re-sent by an originating server and found legitimate, they are delivered after a short delay. This means that Halon automatically eliminates close to 100 percent of all spam without compromising its filtering process to allow false positives.

That was an essential factor in our deciding to go with Halon, says Gerritse. We couldn’t afford to get false positives as it was critical to our business. As much as our employees hate getting spam, not receiving a legitimate email is an ever greater problem. Also Halon can help identify false positives and figure out the reason the emails were not sent. Its support team has been great in customizing the solution for us.

Results

Spil Games solves its spam problem for good.

Since using Halon for email security, Spil Games’ employees no longer receive spam emails and Spil Games’ technical personnel are no longer constrained by an ongoing need to effectively manage spam. Unlike its prior experiences with Barracuda’s solution, Spil Games has discovered that Halon effectively manages even massive volumes of spam.

Other systems can’t handle heavy volumes as easily, so working with them requires pooling together different solutions,” said Gerritse. “Halon not only eliminates all spam, it also eliminates all false positives. It can handle all of it as an all-in-one solution, saving us from the need to also look elsewhere for supplemental products.

Spil Games was impressed by the continuous influx of new features and upgrades offered by Halon. Notable improvements have been made in how the system consistently checks false positives and debugs email flow.

Halon works hard to constantly improve their product, predicting threats down the road and enhancing its solution to adapt to these threats before they become an issue, says Gerritse. Halon has an excellent interface, which is constantly upgrading and innovating. Logging and searching within the appliance has improved tremendously.

Gerritse is such a believer in Halon’s email security that he routinely recommends its solution to friends and fellow colleagues in the IT industry. Halon’s support team has also earned raves from Spil Games. With Halon’s ongoing support, Spil Games now has an email security solution directly tailored for all its specific needs.

This wouldn’t be possible without Halon’s fantastic support team that really knows the product and the problems its customers face. The system now takes much less time to manage compared to what we were spending on Barracuda, saving on average of two man-hours every week. This is a big comfort as we continue to grow and expand our company. We know that whatever comes down the line with regards to email security, Halon will have it covered.

About Spil Games

Spil Games’ mission is to unite the world in play through a localized global network of online social-gaming platforms tailored to girls, teens and families. These platforms, are localized in 15 languages, and entertain more than 180 million active users from around the world each month. These platforms host popular, casual and social games that encourage players to connect and challenge themselves and each other while sharing their creativity. Additionally, Spil Games is present on mobile devices through browser-based and native application versions of the company’s targeted social-gaming platforms. For more information, please visit http://www.spilgames.com/.

Download the case study (PDF)

Halon becomes first email gateway to integrate DMARC

Halon, the technology leader in email gateways, today announced the implementation of DMARC, a first of its kind solution to prevent malicious phishing emails for hosting providers. This new implementation will prevent attacks by spammers who use targeted spoof emails from recognized brands. Halon developed DMARC technology, similar to what is being used by companies such as Google, Yahoo, and PayPal, and removes the risk of fraudulent emails by enabling email receivers and senders to work together to protect end users and brands.

Phishing attacks are one of the most effective strategies used by hackers to penetrate unsuspecting user’s computers, but through implementing our DMARC solution, hosting providers can immediately eradicate this threat, said North American CEO and co-founder at Halon, Jonas Falck. We are driving the industry forward as Halon is the only vendor that has fully implemented DKIM in a commercial product that can verify email via DMARC. We hope that soon DMARC integration will become standardized across the industry so that phishing emails will be a thing of the past.

Key product features of Halon’s new DMARC implementation include:

  • Avoids spoofing emails
  • Reduces phishing attacks and malware
  • Makes email more trusted while maintaining openness

Halon has consistently provided an innovative security solution to combat the emerging threats hosting providers face, said Anders Aleborg, CEO at Binero, a web-hosting provider. “With this new update, we are confidant that we can protect our brand and reputation from attacks like phishing emails. It is essential that we are able to verify legitimate senders, and with this new DMARC implementation, we now have access to a secure system that validates the security of our emails and protects our users.

Highlighting this growing trend, A Halon commissioned survey hosted by TNS Global found that nearly one-third of Americans admit to opening an unsolicited email, and these spam emails most often spoofed banking institutions (15.9%), social media sites like Facebook or Twitter (15.2%), and online payment services (12.8%).

Spammers who are continuously changing their strategies for targeted attacks will single out users who do not implement anti-spoofing technologies. In fact, most spammers use forged email addresses, which affect nearly all Americans (94.7%) who received at least one email containing a virus, spyware, or malware. In response to this growing threat, Halon developed DKIM libraries with open source libdkim++ to sign and validate email signatures. Halon combined its DMARC technology with SPF, which now enables email recipients to verify the validity of the sender.

Halon receives award ‘Messaging Security Solution’ of the year at British Computing Security Awards 2013

Yesterday evening on the 17th of October Halon Security had the honor to receive the award for ‘Messaging Security Solution’ of the year. The competition showcase and reward the technology, tools and solutions, as well as the companies and organisations, that have made a major contribution over the past 12 months to promoting best practice and keeping organisations safe. Halon’s Joakim Sundberg attended the grand ceremony hosted by CSMagazine, that took place at Hotel Russel in London, UK.

Halon adds automated deployment of self-configured virtual machines through VMware’s vApp

Datacenters and Web hosting providers benefit from automated licensing, provisioning and fully customizable solutions

Halon, the technology leader in email security, routers and load balancers, today announced the full support of vApp to integrate Halon Security Suite into VMware, the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure. vApp provides an automated and customizable solution for Web hosting providers who need immediate deployment of virtual machines through VMware’s vApp technology. Halon’s reputation has been built on the ability to simplify the deployment of its technology and vApp is the next solution in line with that philosophy.

— The modern data center must be automated to run at full capacity and Halon is committed to providing the best and most efficient hosting and service provider solutions available,” said Jonas Falck, Halon’s COO and senior technical director. “Security infrastructure is following the lead of data centers and cloud providers by moving away from legacy hardware and towards virtualization. Halon Security Suite is leading the charge with vApp integration to provide security solutions with decreased cost, improved quality, and shortened time to market.

Following the lead of datacenters and cloud providers, the network and security infrastructure of hosting and service providers is becoming less reliant on legacy hardware installations and is gravitating towards full software solutions. Now that VMware’s vApp is integrated into the Halon Security Suite, Halon’s hosting and service provider customers will be able to automatically and cost-effectively deploy virtual machines. This enables providers to immediately get new applications up and running in little time while also allocating fewer IT resources.

VMware’s vApp’s self-configuration makes it easy to deploy virtual machines. Pre-packaged virtual machines –such as a windows server and firewall bundled together—don’t require individual IP addresses for every virtual machine. This means applications get running quickly and are easier to operate.

Nearly all Americans spammed with malware & viruses

Email security firm Halon discovers why 1 in 3 Americans would knowingly open a suspicious email and the subsequent retaliation they take on spammers

Halon, the technology leader in email security, today announced the results of its U.S. survey ‘Email Spam and Related User Behavior’. Conducted by market research group TNS Global, the survey discovered that 94.7 percent of Americans received at least one email containing a virus, spyware, or malware. About one in eleven (8.8%) opened the attachment and infected their computer. Almost a third (30.2%) came dangerously close to doing the same, opening the email but stopping short of opening the attachment. These spam emails bogusly claim to come most often from banking institutions (15.9%), social media sites like Facebook or Twitter (15.2%), and online payment services (12.8%).

One in three Americans admit they would open an unsolicited email—even if it seems suspicious—depending on its subject line. For women, spam email messages containing invites from social networks are alluring, while men are tempted to open ones with the time-tested suggestions of money, power, and sex. Specifically, the survey found that women are more likely to open emails from social-media related accounts (8.2% to 5.6%), but that men are nearly three times as likely to open unsolicited bulk emails that promise monetary rewards (9.4% to 3.8%) and far likelier to open emails professing to include naked photos of celebrities (2.8% to 0.6%), themselves (2.3% to 0.9%) or friends (1.1% to 0%).

— Spam email is an unfortunate fact of life in the computer age. Users have become more aware of the threats they face, but spammers have also become craftier in disguising these messages. said Halon’s North American CEO and co-founder, Jonas Falck. Web hosting and email service providers don’t always prevent spam email threats from being delivered, so people need to be careful when encountering suspicious emails that may hijack their computer or render it inoperable.

Halon’s survey also indicates that Americans’ traditional understanding of spam has expanded beyond unsolicited sales offers. These include social media posts (mentioned by 41.5%), text messages (40.8%), and phone messages (35.1%). Even people’s friends and acquaintances weren’t immune from the spam “tag,” with 26.2% sending messages people didn’t find interesting and, thus, earning the distinction.

Nearly one in three Americans (31.4%) are likely to take action against people who sent spam. In fact, men were more likely than women to take action against the sender when discovering spam (35.5% to 26.5%), especially in a more confrontational manner, such as an angry email (8.9% to 1.0%), angry phone call (7.0% to 4.2%), angry social media post (3.8% to 1.9%), or angry text (3.1% to 0.4%).

People were alerted to email spam in many cases by a message’s subject line (70.5%), more than half of the time (42.9%) when the text in the subject line was in “ALL CAPS.” Other common triggers that made users aware of spam were the senders email address (67.9%), strange formatting (62.4%) and strange language (56%).

Survey Methodology: 
This survey was conducted online within the United States by TNS via its omnibus product on behalf of Halon in August 2013, among 1,000 adults ages 18 and older. For complete survey methodology, including raw data and weighting variables, please contact William McCormick at Grayling.

Halon awarded with VBspam

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, 02 Mar 2011 — Virus Bulletin has since 2009 given out the prestigious VBSpam Verified award, in order to help customers choose anti-spam solutions which actually keeps their promised false-positive and spam catch rates. In the latest test Halon delivered as promised with ease.

After years of experience on the field; testing tools for spam and malware protection, Virus Bulletin started in early 2009, focusing on testing various vendors in the anti-spam segment. VBSpam tests products by sending vast amounts of real-time spam simultaneous to all participants, to simulate a fair real-world scenario, so customer knows what to expect.

Halon participated for the first time in a VBSpam test, this month of March 2011. Halon achieved a top placement and was awarded with the “VBSpam Verified” award, which was the result of a catch rate of 99,71 % without a single false positive.

 — We are very proud, and pleased to see that our product outperforms larger competitors on the market, says Peter Falck, CEO, Halon Security.

Halon protects and secures both inbound and outbound communication and is being used in business ranging from very small to large and hosting/carrier-class corporations. Halon supports next-generation Internet and mail security technologies such as IPv6, DNSSEC and DKIM, which makes your IT investments long-term future-proof. It runs on many virtualization platforms and on bare-metal.

Halon becomes VMware partner and VMware Ready

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, 25 Aug 2010 — Halon Security, is proud to announce its addition to the VMware partner family.

Halon is a complete package for clean incoming and outgoing email between email servers from spam, viruses, malware and other threats. Halon runs as a virtual machine in virtualization solutions such as the VMware virtualization family. Since it utilizes system resources that are already in place, no additional hardware needs to be purchased and powered on, which enables any IT department to lower its environmental footprint and save money at the same time. It doesn’t get any greener than that.

— We are incredibly proud to have VMware put the spotlight on us, a small company from Gothenburg in Sweden. The VSP has done extremely well here in Europe and we hope that the addition in the VMware Marketplace will help more customers around the world find us and this incredible product, says Peter Falck, founder and CEO at Halon Security.

The VMware Marketplace features the VMware partners and their products. A total of approximately 1400 products are on display on the web site and out of these only 29 have been given the VMware Ready certification, of which Halon Security are one.

First in line with DKIM and DNSSEC

GOTHENBURG, Sweden, 26 Apr 2010 — Halon Security’s popular e-mail gateway is now being upgraded to a completely new version. New features include support for DKIM, DNSSEC, better performance and lower hardware requirements, which together make the perfect solution for web hosting and Internet service providers.

Halon Security’s solution for email protection is constantly developing in order to give its users support for modern standards and exciting new features. In version 2.2 there are plenty of new features.

Version 2.2 has by a substantial work of Halon developers in Gothenburg almost got into a “turbo mode” by significantly lower hardware requirements and properly optimized code.

Our developers never rest when it comes to making our products more efficient and more environmentally friendly. It is a job that will benefit both our customers and our environment, says Peter Falck, CEO of Halon Security.

It has also support for a number of interesting standards. It can now handle domain name that is cryptographically signed as DNSSEC. Another major new feature is support for DomainKeys Identified Mail, or DKIM, which allows a company or organization to take responsibility for an email, and ensure that the sender is legitimate by cryptographic keys that signs each e-mail message.

Both of these standards contributes to less spam and more efficient use of bandwidth on the Internet. These are functions that ISPs and web hosting are increasingly seeking to be able safeguard their customers’ e-mail.

Halon has long been one of the world’s best products when it comes to stopping spam. Now we are also one of the world’s best products in terms of allowing companies to use their e-mail environment more efficiently and safely, says Peter Falck, CEO of Halon Security