Elevating Cybersecurity in Mergers: How Alm. Brand Group Unified IT Security with Microsoft

Jurate Beniulyte

Jurate Beniulyte

Go To Market Lead - Security

Læsetid, 4 min.

The merger of Danish insurance companies Alm. Brand and Codan has created one of the largest insurance groups in Denmark, bringing together more than 700,000 customers in the new Alm. Brand Group. Through their future IT landscape – named ‘The Insurance Platform of the Future’ – Alm. Brand Group will develop and provide insurance solutions in a fast and efficient way with an end goal of delivering personalized products and customer experience within the groups differentiated brands to meet customer needs. The new IT platform thus plays an important role in reaching the potential of one of the largest mergers in Danish insurance.

Vice President for Security Operations, Amdi Hillebrand, shares how the teams tackled the merging of their IT systems and the consolidation of their cybersecurity infrastructure, with a focus on one platform: the Microsoft security stack.

“IT security is a baseline in creating what we call ‘the insurance platform of the future’, where products and the customer experience can be personalized and meet customers’ needs throughout the companies’ brands,” Amdi Hillebrand starts.

The immediate aftermath of the merger presented a unique challenge to the SecOps teams as they realized the sheer scale of their undertaking, but as tasks and ideas piled up, it became clear what the team was up against: “The implementations went both faster and slower than first envisioned in various parts of the process – but the teams lived up to our employee promise: ‘Where Passionate People Meet’ and showed determination and persistence in delivering on the task,“ he says.

One-platform approach simplified the process

The management team in the new Alm. Brand Group clearly defined the objectives for integrating the security infrastructure from the beginning, making it much easier for the team to deliver, Amdi Hillebrand explained. “It was clear from the beginning that the Alm. Brand platform was the target platform,” he continues: “That helped us swiftly decide on tools and technology.”

Standardizing on Microsoft security solutions played a critical role in the integration. “The former Alm. Brand was committed to Microsoft Azure Cloud and other Microsoft services across the business,” says Amdi Hillebrand. Codan had also considered adopting Microsoft services but was held back due to the merger process.

Adopting Microsoft security solutions across the group unified the SecOps teams with a shared goal. “Engaging in Microsoft’s security journey had tremendous potential to fully embed security into our infrastructure,” Hillebrand adds.

 

An all-hands-on-deck situation

To consolidate IT systems into a single tenant, the Alm. Brand Group swiftly migrated all Codan users to the Alm. Brand Microsoft 365 tenant in just six months. Amdi Hillebrand recalls a moment when Codan employees returned their PCs on a Friday evening and received reconfigured devices by Sunday, ready for work. “It was an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ situation, with our CIO, Bo Krag Esbensen, helping to distribute PCs to each employee – that created a feeling of engagement and commitment,” he notes and adds that Microsoft Intune played a crucial role in simplifying endpoint management across the merged entity, facilitating rapid and seamless enrollment of w devices.

 

Meeting business growth goals with a scalable approach

 

The one-platform approach meant that the Alm. Brand Group experienced the full potential of the Microsoft security stack. Amdi Hillebrand elaborates: “The simplification and consolidation of security products into Microsoft’s platform helped us create a scalable IT platform that meets business growth goals. Concretely, the implementation of Microsoft Defender XDR helped us strengthen our security posture significantly while the transition to Microsoft Sentinel as the sole SIEM tool also led to cost savings and provided a more centralized overview.”

Amdi Hillebrand also reflects on the benefits of Azure Arc and Microsoft Purview Information Protection: “Integrating Azure Arc across both infrastructures enabled centralized vulnerability management, patch distribution, and enhanced security through Microsoft Defender. Microsoft Purview Information Protection has also aligned with the group’s future goals by empowering users to control data sharing and external collaboration.”

“Our next steps involve strengthening the use of Microsoft Purview Information Protection to involve users more directly in deciding what data to share”.

– Amdi Hillebrand, Vice President for Security Operations, Alm. Brand Group

Despite the successful integration, challenges arose. “Finding time and resources for consolidation while running business systems at full speed was a significant challenge,” admits Amdi Hillebrand. Despite these challenges, the Alm. Brand Group is now better prepared to face future security challenges, thanks to a comprehensive, unified approach to cybersecurity. “A single pane of glass enables us to manage our security posture and address challenges without increasing staff,” concludes Amdi Hillebrand. With continuous improvements in Microsoft security solutions and focused collaboration with the SOC team, Alm. Brand Group is now poised to adapt swiftly to evolving security threats.

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