Seattle Kraken adopts stronger cyberdefense with WatchGuard’s Unified Security Platform

Seattle Kraken adopts stronger cyberdefense with WatchGuard’s Unified Security Platform

Professional ice hockey team, Seattle Kraken, has deployed WatchGuard Technologies’ Unified Security Platform, providing comprehensive protection against cyberthreats for the NHL’s 32nd franchise.

The Seattle Kraken hockey franchise, the NHL’s 32nd franchise, has completed the first phase of implementation of WatchGuard’s Unified Security Platform.

During the 2023-2024 season, the lean, six-person Kraken IT team deployed WatchGuard firewalls, endpoint protection, antivirus, advanced threat detection and response across all environments, and device and patch management.

Providing enterprise-grade protection from a single intuitive console with unmatched ease of use, WatchGuard enables the Kraken IT staff to protect the team’s digital assets, including sensitive data and proprietary information.

WatchGuard gives the IT team comprehensive tools to deliver safe online experiences for both globe-trotting employees and fans at home. WatchGuard offers fast configuration and management of devices and policies and intuitive, at-a-glance access to critical threat information.

A Lean IT Team must protect a global brand against global cybersecurity risks

The Seattle Kraken need a strong defense on the ice and – when it comes to stopping cyberthreats – off the ice as well. Entering the league for the 2021-2022 season the team quickly established itself as a recognizable brand. Protecting critical digital assets is top of mind for the Kraken IT team. According to Director of IT Sean Rawlins: “We need robust, multi-faceted security to protect sensitive data and proprietary information. In addition, it’s a top priority for us to ensure the security of fan data and online experiences.”

The lean Kraken IT team is responsible for managing and protecting more than 260 individuals and their devices at home and on the road, as well as servers, private networks and other equipment. The Kraken Community Iceplex, which houses the team’s offices and IT equipment, has rinks and a Wi-Fi network that are open to the public.

Wi-Fi traffic from upwards of 1,000 visitors per day travels through the Kraken firewalls. The team also supports technology innovation across the franchise and is known for raising the bar league-wide on the use of technology in player, employee and fan experiences. The Kraken have their own software development team that builds and maintains a fan-facing app with player stats and other team information and software for the team’s coaching and player development staff.

Like any NHL franchise, team staff are on the road with players for half the season. The team also has scouts around the world where the cybersecurity threat environment creates added risks. The Kraken must protect themselves from daily threats, including phishing and smishing, and ransomware attempts. That creates a need for strong network and endpoint security as well as correlated threat detection and response.

Typically, the IT team prefers to hold off on major initiatives until the off-season, but during the first half of the 2023-2024 season, the Kraken began the transition to WatchGuard.

Security made simple with WatchGuard’s Unified Security Platform

Sean Rawlins, Seattle Kraken Director of IT

“Using WatchGuard has been a great experience,” said Rawlins. “As we evaluated their platform, we were immediately impressed with how WatchGuard has reduced complexity without compromising on the level of security we need as a globally recognized brand.”

Despite the potential for disruption with a mid-season switchover, the Kraken implementation of WatchGuard went smoothly and was completed within hours.

“From the beginning, migrating to WatchGuard was simple and easy,” said Ryan Willgues, Cybersecurity Engineer with the Seattle Kraken. The first phase of the transition included the deployment of WatchGuard Firebox firewalls and was quickly followed by EPDR endpoint security and WatchGuard ThreatSync extended detection and response (XDR), which was deployed just as easily.

In terms of day-to-day threat monitoring and workflows, WatchGuard’s focus on providing a single, integrated management interface makes the job of Willgues and the rest of the IT team easier. According to Willgues: “On a daily basis, I appreciate how intuitive the management console is, especially the dashboards that provide at-a-glance status and threat information.”

Willgues also notes that WatchGuard’s extended detection and response (XDR) solution, ThreatSync – which integrates data from firewalls and endpoints – helps him determine where he should focus. “With ThreatSync, we not only have comprehensive visibility across our network, but its built-in AI filters out low-level threats and makes it easy to see what I need to prioritize.

“With the cybersecurity landscape continuously evolving, WatchGuard enables us to maintain vigilance in monitoring for and defending against emerging threats,” added Rawlins. “In a lot of ways, what we do is like a penalty kill – we have a lean team, and we all have to pitch in to stop incoming threats.”

Building better security on the WatchGuard Platform

The next step for the Kraken IT team is to replace their current set of disparate identity management solutions with additional components of WatchGuard’s Unified Security Platform. These include single sign-on and AuthPoint Total Identity Security, which provides multi-factor authentication, password management and Dark Web monitoring for compromised credentials.

As the official Cyber Defenders of the Deep, WatchGuard provides not just comprehensive cybersecurity technology, but the support to ensure the Kraken IT team can stop every threat.

“Even when we’ve had issues that aren’t directly related to their platform, the WatchGuard team has stuck with us until they’ve been resolved,” commented Rawlins. “They are always there to support us. I really appreciate that they’re big enough to meet all our needs but not so big that you can’t reach out and contact them when you need help.”

We asked Sean Rawlins, Seattle Kraken Director of IT, further questions to find out more about the project.  

With the successful completion of the first phase of implementing WatchGuard’s Unified Security Platform, how has it improved the overall cybersecurity posture of the Seattle Kraken?

Our cybersecurity posture at the Seattle Kraken has seen a significant improvement. The platform has brought enhanced threat detection and simplified management, both vital for safeguarding our sensitive data and proprietary information. With our small IT team, this simplified management is crucial for us. And knowing that this is just the beginning, with more exciting tools from WatchGuard to roll out, I feel more secure than ever.

Given the unique challenges your team faces, such as managing Wi-Fi traffic from upwards of 1,000 daily visitors at the Kraken Community Iceplex and supporting staff on the road, how has WatchGuard’s solution enhanced your ability to protect sensitive data and ensure secure online experiences for both employees and fans?

Ensuring guest safety on our public Wi-Fi is just as crucial as protecting our employees from threats. WatchGuard’s VPN secures our remote users, and soon we’ll enhance this with WatchGuard’s AuthPoint. Their solution has been essential for securely managing our Wi-Fi traffic and providing safe remote access, effectively protecting both employee and fan data.

Can you elaborate on the specific aspects of the WatchGuard solution that facilitated such a seamless implementation and how it has impacted your day-to-day threat monitoring and workflows?

WatchGuard’s intuitive management console made the implementation seamless and streamlined our day-to-day threat monitoring, enabling us to efficiently prioritise and address security threats. Its user-friendliness is a huge selling point. But what truly stood out was WatchGuard’s exceptional customer service. With a lean IT group, having WatchGuard feels like having a full support team behind us. They’ve been with us every step of the way, offering direct and immediate assistance without hiding behind knowledge bases or lengthy email threads.

Looking ahead to the next phase of your cybersecurity strategy, which includes integrating WatchGuard’s single sign-on and AuthPoint Total Identity Security, what are your key objectives and expected benefits from these new components?

Our key objectives are to enhance identity management with single sign-on, strengthen access control with multi-factor authentication, and improve operational efficiency. These steps will reduce breach risks and boost overall productivity. I’m really excited about implementing zero trust risk policies based on time and location, alongside password management and dark web credential monitoring. These additions will add depth to our security measures and ensure comprehensive protection against emerging threats.

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