Brewery Bolsters Its Own and Partners’ Security

Hackers and data breaches are the stuff of nightmares, even for Fortune 500 businesses with legions of IT experts on the payroll. For small businesses without those in-house resources, the prospect of such attacks can cause sleepless nights.

Top management at Brew Hub didn’t want security concerns to distract from the craft brewery’s thriving business and ambitious growth plans. “It’s essential that we devote our full attention and resources to our business and our customers,” says Diane Schoen, vice president of marketing for the four-year-old company.

Brew Hub provides brewing, distribution and sales services to 14 partner brewers from its 70,000-square-foot Lakeland, Fla., facility. The company plans to build out a network of five breweries throughout the country within the next few years. “We’re going a million miles an hour,” she says.

Like many startups, Brew Hub has a small staff—half a dozen top managers in St. Louis and 50 employees in Lakeland—and Schoen “has a hand in everything.” Though the company had experienced no security issues, preventing them was a top priority.

“Businesses of all sizes are being hacked,” Schoen points out. “We’re not a big target, but nobody is immune. Recent publicity put Brew Hub in the spotlight, and we realized that anyone with ill will could take a shot at us.”

Protecting their partner brewers was paramount. Brew Hub produces two to seven beers for each client and must safeguard their proprietary ingredients and recipes. The company also wanted to protect the credit card data of consumers who visited the 3,000-square-foot tasting room at its Lakeland brewery. It also was determined to shield corporate data and employee information.

Choosing a Turnkey Security Service

Schoen heard about network security provider Netsurion through acquaintances, and Brew Hub’s IT team connected with the company in February, 2016. After comparing their services with those of a few other companies, Brew Hub opted for Netsurion.

“Its service was turnkey, and its customer service was easy to work with,” Schoen says. She was also impressed by the company’s guarantee. If ever a breach occurred, “here’s what they would do to take care of everything,” she says.

Netsurion assessed Brew Hub’s operation, identifying potential vulnerabilities and ensuring that network traffic was properly segmented. “Not even seasoned IT professionals know everything about risk management,” Schoen says. “They shored up our expertise.”

A key part of the proposal addressed credit card transactions. Because consumers use credit cards in Brew Hub’s tasting room, the brewer is subject to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) information security standard. That standard, which has 332 subparts, is exactly the same for a giant retailer like Walmart as for a mom and pop shop. The Netsurion package Brew Hub selected ensures full compliance with this standard.

Swift and Seamless Transition

Once Brew Hub approved Netsurion’s proposal, everything was up and running in less than 60 days, working around the brewery’s production schedule. “There was no interruption to our business at all,” Schoen reports. “It was absolutely seamless. There was no training or learning curve involved.”

Netsurion installed a firewall at Brew Hub’s Lakeland facility, but the rest of the hardware resides at the vendor’s offices, where its employees continuously monitor the client’s systems. “Everything happens in the background, so we don’t have to get involved,” Schoen says. If a problem or concern were to arise, Netsurion would get in touch with the client. “We know they have our back,” she adds. “That’s invaluable.”

The service is also economical. “This is a fraction of the cost of a self-managed solution or internal IT staff,” Schoen says.

Brew Hub is already looking ahead. “We’re about to break ground on a St. Louis brewery that should be operational in 2017,” she says. In addition, the company is evaluating acquisition opportunities.

When other locations are online, Brew Hub will be able to upgrade its service to include a VPN for secure communication between locations, centralized accounting and other shared functions.

“We’re making decisions for the long term, not applying band-aids for the time being,” Schoen says. “We’ll be able to grow our business as quickly as possible without having to double back to address infrastructure needs.”

Knowing that their operations are secure enables the Brew Hub vice president to sleep easy. “As a startup, you can’t put a price tag on peace of mind,” Schoen says.