Le Monde Case Study

Finding a straightforward security solution that scales: why Le Monde chose Sqreen

Challenges

  • No visibility into attacks or other security events on their websites
  • Le Monde needed to find a way to understand and prevent attacks that could be done at scale without a dedicated security team
  • Needed to implement a security solution that goes beyond the HTTP server and doesn’t redirect traffic

Solution

  • Sqreen provides Le Monde with rich visibility and actionable insights into security events within their applications, giving them everything they need to improve their application security and their capabilities as a team.

Results

  • Ability for one or two people to monitor and handle the security of the 500th most visited website, globally
  • Set up security in their application in 30 minutes, and discovered critical vulnerabilities within hours of install that they had not been aware of
  • Blocked dozens of potentially damaging attacks that they would not have known about prior to Sqreen
  • Ability to sleep through the night, as Sqreen blocks attacks that used to trigger late night application exception alerts in their alerting tool.


Le Monde Group is a French media group that includes publications like Le Monde, one of the largest and most well respected newspapers in the world, and L’Obs, a widely circulated French weekly. As their online presence and readership has grown with the rise of online news, their position as a target for attacks, and their need for security, has grown as well.

Le Monde Website

Le Monde Group serves over 600TB of bandwidth every month to meet their traffic needs. A crucial element for them is their ability to serve dynamic pages and deliver rapid performance for each visitor they have. By designing their platform for performance, they had initially made some tradeoffs on security. This left them with little visibility into their application security and an unclear path forward, with only the CTO dedicated to security matters. Given their need for delivering dynamic pages quickly to users across multiple platforms, they realized they needed in-application protection for their backend, rather than trying to secure their application from the network level.

With the understanding that they needed to have visibility into their attacks and the ability to stop them, Le Monde Group began looking for solutions. Their ideal security solution must work with backend origin servers, have minimal performance impact, and be something that people of all levels of security expertise could use. They examined several solutions, but found them to be either too complex to work with or to be missing key functionalities. Then they found Sqreen.

“Sqreen fixed the exact problems we were having and delivered exactly what we’re expecting in a security solution.” -- Sacha Morard, CTO, Le Monde Group

Le Monde Group initially implemented Sqreen on their PHP applications in L’Obs, and that very week, the value jumped out to them. On the Friday after installing Sqreen, they got what looked like a standard exception in PagerDuty. Nothing that stood out. They got ones like that all the time. At the same time, they got an alert from Sqreen that notified them that they were being targeted for an attack. The CTO jumped up and verified what was happening in Sqreen. Attackers were indeed targeting them at that very moment.

“The value of Sqreen was super clear after that first attack. We had visibility into attacks for the first time, and were able to learn about them in real time. It was incredible.” -- Sacha Morard, CTO, Le Monde Group

Sqreen helped them uncover the vulnerability linked to that particular exception using remediation stack traces. Once they had identified the vulnerability, they turned on Sqreen’s blocking mode to block all attacks related to it in the future. No more being woken up in the middle of the night to unclear exception alerts.

Sqreen's Security Monitoring Dashboard
The Sqreen monitoring dashboard (demo app)

After seeing initial success with L’Obs, they installed Sqreen on their applications in Le Monde. With Sqreen, Le Monde Group now understands the frequency and types of attacks that touch their applications across all publications. They get not only visibility into what’s happening, but a clear path forward to addressing security issues. For self-professed “security beginners,” this gives Groupe Le Monde not only coverage for their needs today, but also a core for them to build upon and scale in the future.

“Security is a core component for us, but I felt like a security beginner. It’s wonderful to work with Sqreen, because I get accurate insights about attacks that we’re having and it’s very straightforward to see how we can improve our application’s security. Plus the Sqreen team is super available and helpful with any support needs or questions.” -- Sacha Morard, CTO, Le Monde Group

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