SYMANTEC & WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING PARTNER TO PROTECT CRITICAL INFORMATION ACROSS BUSINESSES AND MAINTAIN FORMULA ONE, ADVANCED ENGINEERING EDGE
Founded in 1977 by Sir Frank Williams, Williams is one of the most successful teams in the history of Formula One, having tallied 114 grand prix wins and nine Constructors’ Championships over the last four decades. The world-class innovation derived from designing, constructing, and competing at the highest echelons of motorsport are commercialized by Williams Advanced Engineering for clients in industries including automotive, aerospace, defense, sports science, and energy.
Maintaining a Competitive Edge
Williams Martini Racing is one of the remaining independent teams that takes on its competitors by being more agile and innovative to maintain its competitive advantage. “But the 21 people you see in the pitstop is the tip of the iceberg for the business,” said Graeme Hackland, Williams IT Director. With around 600 people working on the car and another 150 involved in the Williams Advanced Engineering business, Williams knew they had to be more aggressive in their technology strategy to return to the front of the grid.
“The risk challenges facing our IT department are varied and complex, and our two business areas have very different technology needs and risk exposure,” Hackland said. “With that in mind, we worked with Symantec Consulting to assess risk and weaknesses to both our infrastructure and data across IT security, performance, availability, and compliance,” he added.
Through its partnership with Symantec, Williams embraced a new portfolio of technologies and services to eradicate threat vulnerabilities; to create robust, intelligent, and secure workflows; to enable more innovative, more reliable, and faster work practices without risk; and to robustly protect the group’s high-value data and intellectual property (IP).
Data Protection Is Lifeblood
Formula One has thrived on collecting and analyzing data for more than 35 years. A race weekend generates more than 140 GB in car, telemetry, video, and other analytics, all focused on how to make the car quicker. The challenge is keeping race data confidential and 100 percent available while protecting the engineering process and enabling rapid decision-making. For Williams Advanced Engineering, intellectual property is the lifeblood of the business. Any loss would be critical. “We work on such sensitive projects. Protection of customer data and IP is crucial. In fact, we often must demonstrate to customers that specific security requirements have been met in order to win their business,” Hackland explained. And because each part of the business has very different challenges, it was important for Hackland to find a partner that could deliver in both areas.
“In Formula One,” said Hackland, “we’re always thinking about speed―speed of the car and the speed of operations. Helping the team incorporate concepts into the car using new technology and process improvement is part of that.”
Moving to a digital workflow means speedier processes. For example, the race tire engineer now uses a tablet to record pressure and temperature at the track. It means the engineers can immediately see which tires are optimum, so it speeds things up, but it also increases the risk vector because that confidential information is available to anyone who can access that tablet. “As we transform ourselves, IT risk changes, and we work with Symantec to eradicate risk at the endpoint, data center, or the web services we use,” Hackland pointed out.
“Any endpoint security technology must have low overhead on all machines because nothing can slow things down trackside,” Hackland noted. “A longer boot-up process causes real problems in a Formula One context. You walk to the grid to download some information because you noticed an alert as the car is racing around the course. If you get a blue screen, no one will wait until you’re ready—the race goes on. It is critical the agents have little or no impact on the endpoints. That is one of the benefits we get with Symantec,” explained Hackland.
“After implementing the new Symantec technology, we went to the first race in 2016 with our data and devices protected. We had the latest, up-to-date security patches, an audit tool, protection, and encryption on every device. That gave us a lot of confidence,” said Hackland. Control “When I think about control from an IT perspective, it’s about giving it up,” Hackland maintained. “Too much control limits innovation, and we have to enable a dynamic, constantly changing business. If we restrict people, they won’t be able to innovate and compete, so the key is to provide freedom without adding business risk.”
In considering its risk posture, the Williams IT team realized the 1,200 endpoints of a very mobile workforce needed more flexibility, yet more protection. “Our workforce regularly works offsite all over the world, and as part of our digital transformation strategy, we put in processes, systems, and technology that allow our engineers to work wherever they are,” Hackland shared.
“We tried out a fair number of technologies, but in my opinion, what gave Symantec the competitive edge is that it’s really good in a wide range of areas. It’s not enough to have just antivirus or intrusion prevention or even machine learning. The multi-tiered protection of essential and next-gen technologies provided by Symantec Endpoint Protection is brilliant for us,” he noted. “Symantec Endpoint Protection proactively detects the latest threats, including Cryptolocker ransomware, and it includes reputation analysis and behavior monitoring in addition to application control and intrusion prevention technology, which in turn helps us safeguard the devices containing Williams IP or live race telemetry data at the track.”
According to Hackland, “because about 60 percent of our staff regularly work offsite, encryption allows them to confidently download data to a local device. Symantec Endpoint Protection protects the data and supports strong authentication. With our Symantec solution in place, Williams Advanced Engineering customers can now be assured that their data is protected should a device be stolen or go missing―and the Formula One team knows that no matter where they are, whatever Wi-Fi they connect to, endpoints are secure.”