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  • Aflac Adopts Splunk Platform for Analytics-Driven Security

    Facing a rapidly changing threat landscape, Aflac needed a robust security platform to protect its customers,10,000 employees and brand reputation.

    Aflac orchestrated threat intelligence across 20 security technologies and created an analytics-driven security approach that provided immediate return on investment.

    As the leading provider of voluntary insurance in the U.S., Aflac understands the importance of protecting against disaster. 

    Facing an increase in the volume and velocity of security threats, Aflac needed a new analytics-driven security approach to protect its customers, nearly 10,000 employees and brand reputation. The company adopted the Splunk platform to sit at the heart of its internal Threat Intelligence System (TIS).

    Data-Driven Outcomes
    2 wks
    to enterprise-ready implementation
    2M
    security threats blocked in one six-month period
    40 hrs
    saved every month by replacing manual processes
    A Stronger Threat Intelligence Platform

    As Aflac enters new markets and offers new services, the company needs to adapt its security program continuously to match a rapidly changing threat landscape that includes everything from spear-phishing to the proliferation of malware. Prior to adopting the Splunk platform, Aflac relied on a legacy security information and event management (SIEM) solution, but the company required a stronger threat intelligence platform to detect and respond to attacks adequately.

    According to D.J. Goldsworthy, director of Security Operations and Threat Management for Aflac, “With our previous SIEM, you had to know the data exceedingly well before you could take action, whereas Splunk helps you know your data very quickly. Splunk made us much nimbler and enabled us to show value to all of our stakeholders quickly.”

    Initially, Aflac stood up Splunk Enterprise Security (ES) for threat hunting. “Our proof of concept, in essence, was using Splunk ES for our threat hunting use cases, and the time to value far exceeded our expectations,” Goldsworthy says. “We were able to do extraordinary things in a very short period of time to detect advanced threats. Ultimately, that was the decision point for us to make a much larger investment in Splunk ES and UBA [User Behavior Analytics] across our different security use cases.”

    Immediate Return on Investment

    According to Goldsworthy, the time to implement the Splunk platform and get it enterprise-ready was short — just a couple of weeks. “That was quite surprising, given the volume of data sources we were bringing in and the number of use cases that we wanted to get in place,” Goldsworthy explains. “With Splunk, we saw immediate return on investment.”

    Today with Splunk ES in Aflac’s security operations center (SOC), the company has saved time for numerous full-time employees. “We calculate that we save more than 40 hours a month in terms of doing reports that used to be manual that are now fully automated,” Goldsworthy says. “Splunk has made it very easy to ingest data from different sources and then present them in a way that is meaningful to stakeholders, such as our board or other leadership.”

    Analytics-Driven Security at Aflac

    Six teams composed of approximately 40 individuals rely on the Splunk platform to manage broad security use cases, including threat hunting, threat intelligence, security operations, incident response, application security, security administration and fraud.

    “We implemented Splunk first for threat intelligence and then security operations, and realizing how versatile the solution is, we determined that the logical next step for us was to apply that to fraud,” Goldsworthy says.

    Automating Threat Intelligence

    Aflac put its TIS in place within five months, finishing one month ahead of schedule. The system provides tactical and strategic functions, adding automation to create efficiencies in the daily threat data feed, saving time and reducing errors. The system automatically consumes indicators of compromise (IoCs) from more than 20 different threat intelligence sources and provides automated confidence scoring and risk profiling of each IoC. This enables Aflac to track thousands of IoCs and perform real-time correlation against network and system logs in its Splunk security analytics platform. Then, SOC analysts can rapidly respond to potential incidents. Within one six-month period, Aflac was able to block more than 2 million security threats, with fewer than 12 false positives.

    From the perspective of an individual policyholder, I know they would want to know that we're doing everything we can to help keep their information safe. We are paying close attention to how we manage our own information as well as how we manage their personal information, and that's something that Splunk allows us to do.
    Ben Murphy
    Vice President of Information Security, Aflac Incorporated

    “From the perspective of an individual policyholder, I know they would want to know that we’re doing everything we can to help keep their information safe. We are paying close attention to how we manage our own information as well as how we manage their personal information, and that’s something that Splunk allows us to do,” says Ben Murphy, vice president of information security, Aflac.

    Anomaly Detection Adds Value

    As businesses add contractors and others with privileged access to networks, it becomes very difficult to understand whether everyone is in compliance with all of the security policies and best practices or if there are any risks hidden in these activities. “Splunk UBA provided another rich layer of detection to Aflac’s security program, which is capable of identifying anything that happens outside of the normal behaviors we typically observe,” Goldsworthy says.

    We were able to do extraordinary things in a very short period of time to detect advanced threats. Ultimately, that was the decision point for us to make a much larger investment in Splunk ES and UBA across our different security use cases."
    — D.J. Goldsworthy, Director of Security Operations and Threat Management
    Industry: Financial Services
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