Location: London, England UK
HIT Entertainment is one of the world’s leading independent children’s entertainment producers and rights-owners. Launched in 1989, their lines of business span television and video production, content distribution, publishing, consumer products licensing and live events, and has operations in the UK, US, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan. HIT is a part owner of US-based preschool channel, PBS KIDS SproutSM. HIT’s portfolio includes properties, such as Barney™, Bob the Builder™ and Thomas & Friends™. The company also acts as representative for The Wiggles® in the UK.
Once we deployed Varonis DatAdvantage, we were able to identify excessive permissions within seconds; previously, this process took days or even, in some cases, weeks.
HIT Entertainment’s media empire spans across several offices in three continents and multiple time zones. Manually managing access permissions for more than 20 terabytes of data around the world put a strain on its four-person IT department. Adding to this challenge was that HIT Entertainment had grown over the years through a series of acquisitions. This made it difficult to manage both the growing amount of data coming into the organization and the constantly evolving security privileges being granted to employees. Too often access to data was granted but never revoked after it was no longer needed.
Managing access and permissions to sensitive unstructured information was very much a guessing game for the IT team since they were unable to determine the impact a change might have until productivity was negatively impacted. IT operated largely on email, phones and, in many cases, best guesses when trying to update and manage access rights. They lacked any sort of visibility into how data was being accessed so it was impossible to see when content was moved or deleted, how it was being used, and by whom.
HIT Entertainment knew that as the company continued to grow, an automated approach to data governance would be required. The previous “best effort” manual approach to managing access across an increasingly vast amount of sensitive data was no longer sufficient to ensure permissions were current and critical data was protected.
Viewing data access and permissions would have been near impossible with traditional system auditing and other manual review processes given the number of users (in the hundreds) and amount of data in HIT Entertainment’s files (more than 20 terabytes). “It sounds so simple, but we needed to make sure the right people could get to the data they need, and the wrong people couldn’t. That visibility was crucial for us,” said James Herbert, HIT Entertainment’s Senior Manager of Global Infrastructure.
HIT Entertainment turned to Varonis for their data governance solution. Varonis DatAdvantage automates access and permission management for unstructured and semi-structured data on file systems, NAS devices, SharePoint site and Exchange mailboxes, providing visibility into data usage and recommendations for changes based on data access, usage and group membership.
DatAdvantage also provides customers with the ability to model or sandbox permissions changes before committing them, ensuring that when changes are made they are correct and will not disrupt existing business processes. “With Varonis, it’s like having a crystal ball that allows us to see how changes to permissions will actually impact users before we press the button,” said Herbert. In addition to gaining visibility into data usage, DatAdvantage allows Herbert and his team to run reports for both their executive team and data owners. This visibility shows usage patterns and highlights patterns of overly permissive access.
“The reporting has been fantastic,” said Herbert. “Being able to search back in time to see who accessed what files on a specific day without impacting server performance has given us visibility we simply could not have had without Varonis.” Further, the automation capabilities within DatAdvantage allow HIT Entertainment to regularly monitor user access, ensuring that permissions are both accurate and up to date. Security was another consideration for HIT Entertainment’s selection of DatAdvantage. As a rapidly growing company that had completed several acquisitions, the security privileges were constantly in flux and the amount of data coming into the organization was skyrocketing.
DatAdvantage enabled the IT group to work with data owners and get them involved in the data governance process. By alerting IT into which employees had access to certain folders, which users were actively using that data, and which ones should be removed, data owners became active participants in the data governance process.
Without Varonis, this type of accurate governance would have been impossible for HIT Entertainment. “Once we deployed Varonis DatAdvantage, we were able to identify excessive permissions within seconds; previously, this process took days or even, in some cases, weeks,” said Herbert. “With the amount of data we need to manage, it’s physically impossible to do it manually without a solution like DatAdvantage and be 100 percent confident that it’s accurate and updated. Varonis gives us that peace of mind.”
Immediately after its initial deployment, DatAdvantage gave HIT Entertainment visibility into potential data risks by uncovering overly permissive access. Today, HIT Entertainment’s IT administrators use the reporting capabilities within DatAdvantage to provide comprehensive views of data utilization and authorization levels across shared files and archives.
HIT Entertainment’s IT group oversees more than 20 terabytes of data, and that number is continually on the rise. With DatAdvantage’s automation capabilities, both granting and auditing data entitlements and usage can be done quickly and accurately. Additionally, from a deployment perspective, the product was up and running in less than a day, allowing the IT team to more effectively focus its resources on serving end users rather than implementing and installing software. “For us, the real return on investment is the additional detail and visibility we get which in turn saves our team time and resources,” said Herbert.
DatAdvantage provided HIT Entertainment with actionable intelligence to accurately configure access permissions. Its adaptive recommendations were ideal for the company’s growing and dynamic business environment, allowing IT to update permissions as organizational structures change. DatAdvantage provides HIT Entertainment with an understanding of what data users actually need and use, and the insight to make recommendations about access privileges without creating unnecessary or potentially damaging changes.