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Union Bank of the Philippines

UnionBank secures its online presence with Akamai

“When the financial industry was hit by DDoS at the time, as a security practitioner, I had a gut feeling that any bank could be the next, and we were not an exception. Soon after I made calls, Akamai was the fastest to respond, which was important because it displays commitment and gives you an early idea of their dependability. It was a critical business move.”

Aldrin Escurel, Chief Information Security Officer, UnionBank

The Situation

Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) is a publicly-listed universal bank. A well-known leader in the banking industry and winner of the Best Innovation in Retail Banking Philippines and Best Commercial Bank of the Year Philippines awards from the International Banker, the bank strives to integrate technology with business. Aligned with its thrust of being at the forefront of technology-based banking in the Philippines, the bank sought to find a technology partner that can not only provide the scale and expertise to protect its digital presence from cyber threats but also be an enabler in the bank’s digital transformation.

The Challenge

With digital transformation comes an increased vulnerability to attacks as well. Aldrin Escurel, Chief Information Security Officer of Union Bank, reveals “There is a heightened need to secure the technology as soon as possible; throughout their lifecycle, before and while they are being used. It is critical to keep a close eye on the cyber-environment, cyber-assets and cyber-technology in order to put controls there beforehand, so that we are prepared and ready to go once we push through with the transformation journey.” As the number of massive DDoS attacks increased last year around Southeast Asia, UnionBank had the foresight to protect itself against threats and vulnerabilities the bank is exposed to online.

The Goal

  • Secure the bank from DDoS, DNS and application attacks. The bank wanted to pre-emptively take measures to protect itself against any possible threats in the future.
  • Meet customized requirements. The bank had a list of security requirements that it wanted its partner to be able to provide
  • Gain ability to respond during attack. The bank needed to have the means to be able to mitigate and respond effectively to attacks.

Why Akamai
A Market Leader

The bank had an agile approach, acting swiftly on the industry trend. While exploring the options as a part of its agile approach, it noticed only few companies providing their exact requirements as stated in their security strategy. Aldrin says, “I noticed Akamai was the market leader when it came to product. I follow a lot of blogs on cybersecurity and was familiar with Krebs. One of the pieces there was about the DDoS attacks and Mirai, talking about how Akamai did a great job especially considering the traffic that hit the site.” This reinforced the bank’s belief in choosing Akamai for the job. The mentions and attestations by credible sources was a significant factor that spoke highly of the company’s reputation. In addition, PLDT which is its longtime partner in digital transformation, aided in the consultation process.

The Service and Experience

Since Akamai coming on board, the bank experienced a total average origin offload of 88.1%. Aldrin remarks, “In a traditional system, the deployment also takes longer. In this case, we were confident and ready to go. I was asked by the Central Bank how we were doing at the time, and I told him that we are safe – we have Akamai.” The bank has had a positive experience with Akamai’s ready-made infrastructure within Philippines and globally, citing rapid response time as a major selling point along with the ease of use. “When the financial industry was hit by DDoS at the time, as a security practitioner, I had a gut feeling that any bank could be the next, and we were not an exception. Soon after I made calls, Akamai was the fastest to respond, which was important because it displays commitment and gives you an early idea of their dependability. It was a critical business move,” he adds.

About Union Bank of the Philippines

Union Bank of the Philippines (https://www.unionbankph.com) is a publicly-listed universal bank that provides a wide range of retail, commercial, and corporate banking products and services, including loan and deposit products, cash management services, trust banking services, consumer finance, treasury and electronic banking. UnionBank has consistently been recognized as one of Asia’s leading companies in banking and finance, ranking among the country’s top 10 universal banks in terms of key performance ratios in profitability, liquidity, solvency and efficiency. In 2016, UnionBank received the Best Commercial Bank of the Year and Best Innovation in Retail Banking awards from the International Banker.


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