Central Co-op is the largest independent society in the United Kingdom with over 250 Retail stores, 20 petrol stations, 150 funeral homes sites, with a crematorium, coffin factory and masonry. It has over 8,000 employees and covers a huge geographical area from Barnsley to Milton Keynes, and from Great Yarmouth to the West Shropshire Border.
Three strategic imperatives lie at the heart of the Society’s Information Security objectives:
Media reporting of emerging threats and of impact to industry peers led to increasing awareness of the need to strengthen the Society’s security posture.
David Charlton, the Society’s Information Security Manager, recalls there was a lack of cyber security maturity at the time. “From a security perspective we weren’t in a good place. No one was responsible for cyber security. We were at the start of our journey and we lacked the resource and expertise to move forward.”
A long-established business, there was a reliance on legacy systems, processes and controls, and it was recognised that a 24/7 SOC was needed to provide the resources for monitoring and detection, as well as the skills to be able to respond quickly in the event of a serious incident.
The Society decided to seek a capable partner that would be more than “yet another transactional, ticketing service” and would instead form “an extension of our own team”. A number of leading Managed Security Service Providers were invited to tender. Charlton says that “Longwall was selected on the basis of having the most complete service offering combined with demonstrable experience and expertise.”
Since onboarding, Longwall has deployed a suite of measures, including updated security tooling, full 24/7/365 detection & response, exposure & risk management, and regular cyber incident planning and simulation. Close engagement from a named security consultant from Longwall’s team provides strategic oversight and guidance, plus continuous development and review of the cyber security roadmap.
Longwall’s Managed Service has brought comprehensive visibility of threats and exposures around the clock, to enable accurate prioritisation of resource and investment. The Society’s in-house team has gained in expertise and confidence and, extended by Longwall, now has the capacity and bandwidth to plan future cyber developments, including Cloud-First.
With Longwall, Central Co-op has achieved strong operational resilience and substantially reduced risk of business disruption or data loss. This has been reflected in a reduction of over 50% in the Society’s Cyber Liability Insurance premium, and a 70% reduction in the policy excess.
“Above all, Longwall delivers peace of mind. Our cyber security posture has matured significantly: we have reduced risks, improved our operational effectiveness, and we are able to show value to The Board.”