Faced with ever-evolving cybersecurity threats, Hong Kong’s third-largest property agency, Ricacorp Properties Limited, needed to strengthen the protection of its main business website. By deploying F5 BIG-IP Application Security Manager on Microsoft Azure, the organization boosted security without compromising user experience or reliability.
Founded in 1981, Ricacorp is one of the leading property agencies in Hong Kong and Macau, with about 220 branches and over 2,600 staff over the territories. It receives hundreds of thousands of web visits daily from customers seeking property information, surveys, and mortgage referral services.
In the wake of increasing security threats, Ricacorp came to F5 to strengthen the security of its website infrastructure on Microsoft Azure with additional infrastructure on-premises. The team required a tailored solution that could be seamlessly deployed across their cloud, on-premises, and in mobile environments. The need for enhanced web protection increased as Ricacorp deployed more media advertisements The advertisements worked—they drew the attention of new potential customers—but also drew in potential hackers. “Following a recent attack, we have actively worked to strengthen the security of our website to better protect our customers”, said Dennis Tam, Associate Director at Ricacorp.
After completing a careful evaluation of several competitors, Ricacorp selected F5 for its unique value proposition of being able to deliver every app, anywhere—securely, with confidence. Positioned as a leader in the 2017 Gartner magic quadrant for Web Application Firewalls (WAF), F5 worked closely with Ricacorp’s partner to understand Ricacorp’s challenges and recommend a solution optimized to Ricacorp’s needs.
"As cyber-attacks continue to increase and evolve at an alarming rate, we needed to find a reliable partner who could help us take care of this major concern. Lucky for us, F5 was an easy choice," said Tam. “Given their existing relationship with our partner, Expert System, F5 was a natural fit. They have delivered much-needed security, as well as providing peace of mind.”
The real estate giant selected F5 BIG-IP Application Security Manager – Virtual Edition (BIG-IP ASM-VE) on Azure to solve their issues. Not only was F5 able to offer application protection for their public website, allowing for the consistent policy deployment on cloud and on-premises, the solution also enabled proactive bot defense, preventing bad bots from retrieving important property information.
“Thanks to F5, we now have a robust and agile WAF solution across multiple cloud platforms and our on-premises datacenter, which has given us a consistent level of security and led to increased customer confidence,” added Tam.
Another reason Ricacorp selected F5 was the availability of future deployments of mobile protection solutions using the F5 Mobile SDK. To-date, Ricacorp has deployed the solution to provide security protection for applications hosted in Azure and is currently planning a roll-out for its on-premises datacenter later this year. The final phase in their security improvement program will be to deploy Mobile SDK for their mobile channel protection.
By implementing BIG-IP ASM-VE on Azure, Ricacorp is better protected against security attacks, ensuring application availability by stopping attacks from any location. Its customers can conveniently access property information with peace of mind that their data is secure.
With F5’s Application Security Manager, Ricacorp was able to deploy the same security policy across Azure and its on-premises datacenter and maintain consistency across multi-cloud environments. This reduced operational complexity, as well as the risk of policy gaps.
One of the major benefits Ricacorp has received from using F5’s solution is the freedom to grow their on-premises and cloud infrastructures according to business priorities, with the confidence that their apps will be protected without being tied to any particular deployment model or cloud platform. This contrasts with other vendors, whose solutions can sometimes be restrictive and time-consuming to deploy.
Mobile apps are different from web applications, as mobile apps do not support the same security capabilities as web browsers. However, F5’s Anti-Bot Mobile SDK extends the robust bot protection capabilities of F5's Web Application Firewall (WAF) solutions to mobile applications to defend against bots, vulnerability scanners, content scraping, and other automated attack vectors by safely whitelisting sessions coming from the protected mobile app. With growing demand and enthusiasm for digital technologies, including mobile, in Hong Kong, Ricacorp is able to deploy an integrated solution for their mobile channel protection.
The formulation of the Open API Framework is one of seven initiatives announced by the Hong Kong government in late 2017 to prepare Hong Kong to move into a new era of digital economies. By deploying F5 solutions, Ricacorp can now connect securely with banks and third-party service providers to provide innovative and integrated services, moving in step with the Open API Framework initiative and allowing customers to enjoy one-stop service and a better customer experience.