Starwood Vacation Network

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Starwood Vacation Network (SVN), a Florida-based subsidiary of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, is a leading developer and operator of luxury vacation ownership resorts. With a complex and growing network of more than 5,000 devices across 22 resorts worldwide, balancing security, compliance, and IT business goals required a first- class IT security system.

  • Key Business Needs: SVN needed a more efficient security system that would streamline and improve its PCI compliance initiatives and strengthen overall security — without breaking the bank.
  • Tenable Products Selected: SVN deployed Tenable SecurityCenterTM the Nessus® vulnerability scanner, and the Tenable Log Correlation Engine (LCE) as the foundation for its new security process and key PCI compliance initiatives.
  • Top Benefits: A streamlined and optimized PCI compliance process which requires significantly less time investment by the security team and ensures SVN achieves all PCI requirements. To date, SVN has shaved 20 hours per month from its old PCI compliance process and gained significant visibility and intelligence into network activity for its regulated environment.

"Our number one goal in the IT security department is the safety and privacy of our customers' information. After an initial internal audit, we recognized there were opportunities to improve the efficiency of our security and audit process. By rethinking our approach, we could find new ways to optimize the process which would result in cost savings, faster results, and stronger security."

Phil Lambert
Director Information Security, Starwood Vacation Network

Business Needs

Destination: PCI Compliance

Starwood Vacation NetworkSVN is one of Starwood Hotels & Resorts' fastest-growing business units, with nearly six million credit card transactions annually and consistent year-over-year growth. As the company's success increased, so did the need to ensure it was safeguarding sensitive customer information and meeting key regulatory compliance initiatives — particularly the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

The company needed a security process which balanced its responsibility to protect customer information and meet regulatory standards with key business goals for the IT department, like the need to drive operational and technical efficiency and consistently identify opportunities for cost savings.

Project Goals: Security Housekeeping;

There were three key areas where SVN identified an opportunity to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its security and compliance process — all of which correlated directly with its PCI compliance goals.

  • Vulnerability management and assessment: The company's "patch every vulnerability equally" approach had become an incredible resource constraint. SVN needed a way to prioritize high-risk versus low-risk vulnerabilities, and develop an effective patch deployment schedule which would keep them ahead of "true" threats and avoid overinvesting in vulnerabilities which presented no real risk to its network.
  • Log data collection and correlation: SVN's 87 million daily log files were being siloed within several different departments (for example, IT and operations) — making it difficult and time consuming to gain an enterprise-wide snapshot of network activity. Consolidating and correlating network log data would make it easier to pinpoint threats and achieve compliance initiatives.
  • IT infrastructure: In addition to overhauling its security practices, SVN was looking to modernize its IT infrastructure. This meant the security team would need to integrate the new technology with its new security systems. Lambert wanted to make sure the process was as seamless and painless as possible.

The Tenable Solution

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With management approval, SVN's security team implemented its new, efficient, and cost-effective strategy. The result: A streamlined and optimized PCI compliance process which requires significantly less time investment by the security team and ensures SVN achieves all PCI requirements. Tenable's contributions to SVN's success were three-fold:

  • The team developed an internal vulnerability rating system, and customized the Nessus vulnerability scanner so scanning reports would automatically provide a roadmap of which vulnerabilities needed to be patched first. This new process helped SVN identify and prioritize vulnerabilities by criticality — saving 8-12 hours per week by avoiding unnecessary patching.
  • SVN also deployed the Tenable Log Correlation Engine (LCE) and consolidated its log data into a single repository, making it easier to gain true visibility into network activity and quickly pull critical information necessary for its internal and external audits. By leveraging SecurityCenter's robust reporting capabilities, SVN was able to identify patterns, threats, and network problems in real time, turning existing log data into valuable network intelligence.
  • For its new process to be successful, SVN needed security solutions which were dynamic enough to provide fast-and-easy access to critical network data, but flexible enough to fully integrate with the company's various network-attached devices. SecurityCenter, combined with Nessus and LCE, helped the team achieve real-time, continuous visibility into all network activity.

"We have a small security team, and this shift in strategy put us in a position to make smarter decisions that save us a significant amount of time and improve our overall security posture. We're achieving our compliance goals, protecting our customers' information, and turning our existing log data into valuable network intelligence which affords us the opportunity to identify threats, problems, and patterns in real time."

Next Steps and Bottom Line

Making Reservations for the Cloud

Moving forward, Lambert and his team are looking to reduce additional costs by increasing SVN's virtual and mobile environment. They plan to extend their security process to ensure the transition doesn't create greater risk for the company.

"Cloud computing and mobility can present a lot of cost savings and efficiencies, but there are challenges with maintaining access and control. However, the increased visibility we've recently achieved gives us the flexibility to explore new technologies, without compromising our security standards."

Phil Lambert
Director Information Security, Starwood Vacation Network

SVN also plans to expand its Tenable deployment over the next 12-18 months beyond its regulated environment to include its back office data center.

By leveraging the flexibility and robust functionality of Tenable's products, SVN has been able to ace its PCI audits, in less time, and has gained complete visibility into network activity and the data the company holds.