Network Defenses that Bring Cyber Criminals to Their Knees

Our Vice President of Information Technology was interviewed by AT&T Business to learn more about how DAS Acquisition’s network defenses bring cyber criminals to their knees.

The Situation

The company’s straightforward policies and friendly customer service led to rapid growth. Because of its growth, the company needed to address its cybersecurity and communications solutions. Its information technology officials needed to boost cyber defenses against new and more sophisticated network threats. And they had to expand communications services needed by new branch offices and remote workers.

“AT&T Business stays on the cutting edge—and often invents the cutting edge— of network technology. It’s brilliant to have a vendor whose new services parallel the latest technology an security trends.”

The Solution

AT&T Managed Threat Detection and Response protects DAS Acquisition’s network with 24/7 security monitoring. AT&T Office@Hand provides voice, fax, text messaging, and audio and video conferencing for DAS headquarters, branch offices, and employees’  virtual workspaces.

A Commitment to Providing the Best Customer Experience

DAS Acquisition, known to its customers as USA Mortgage, is a full-service institution with a diverse portfolio of loan products that helps it to offer the best choice for each customer. The company has strong strategic relationships within the industry, enabling it to accommodate almost any financial situation.

USA Mortgage’s level of integrity has led to its receiving continued referrals from others in the industry. The company has been named one of America’s Top Workplaces for 2022, earning special recognition for the work-life balance its employees enjoy. The award is based entirely on feedback from an employee engagement survey completed by the staff. In 2017, founder and owner Douglas A. Schukar created an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP); he sold his company to his 541 employees for $1 each. Schukar continues as the company’s Chairman and CEO. “We became a 100% ESOP,” Schukar said. “Since then we’ve grown to over 1,100 employees,” said Matt Dearth, DAS Acquisition Vice President of Information Technology. “We saturated the St. Louis area, then expanded to nearly all 50 states.”

The company’s employee-owners have a personal stake in providing each customer with the best possible experience, which energizes and empowers them to improve the mortgage process for customers.

Building the Infrastructure from Scratch

Dearth joined DAS Acquisition in 2008 when there were only 175 employees. “I was the only person on the IT staff,” he said. “I was hired to basically do everything—run the help desk, install computers, and configure all systems.” The company’s commitment to its customers and staff has propelled steady growth. DAS Acquisition now has 250 employees working in its St. Louis headquarters, and hundreds more working from over 100 branch offices across the U.S., as well as many employees working remotely from home.

“Growing a company from 175 to 1,100 employees means that I’ve had to build the entire IT infrastructure from scratch and continue to evolve it as needed,” Dearth said. While he is no longer the only IT specialist, defending the company’s networks keeps the team’s hands full. “Keeping up with IT security has definitely been the biggest challenge,” Dearth said. “My team and I feel the weight of protecting the personal data of hundreds of thousands of our customers, and keeping the jobs of our employees secure.”

Protection for a Growing Company

Dearth trusts his team, but takes a personal responsibility in creating the safest possible network environment. “As hardware and technology become dated, we’re constantly looking for the next
generation of solutions,” he said. “Luckily, I’ve been able to build a great IT team over the years that I can trust to keep us secure and productive.” Technology has changed significantly over the years. “We started with a flat network, very simple firewall rules, and a simple antivirus software,” Dearth said. “Today we have a multi-layered security stack that monitors all traffic and even behavior across every network and in every endpoint device.” To deal with strong and steady growth, increasing numbers of remote workers, and burgeoning security threats, DAS Acquisition needed a security expert to help protect the expanding company, its employees, and its customers.

“AT&T MTDR has dramatically changed the way we investigate IT security since we can now see everything in one location. It’s invaluable when you have a system that collects all logs from every endpoint, network device, and firewall, and we can see it all in one place.”

Defending Against Advanced Threats

The company did not have to look far to find a vendor with deep expertise in threat intelligence and network security. DAS Acquisition has long trusted AT&T Business when it comes to protecting its assets. “AT&T Business stays on the cutting edge—and often invents the cutting edge—of network technology,” Dearth said. “It’s brilliant to have a vendor whose new services parallel the latest technology and security trends.” He trusts his account representative to keep him and his team apprised of new ways to protect the company. “The account reviews are highly beneficial,” Dearth said. “Our account rep brings in IT experts from AT&T Business who help evaluate our current environment and provide solutions, sometimes for problems we were unaware of.” Dearth approached AT&T Business when he wanted to improve DAS Acquisition’s defense against advanced threats.

The recommendation was for AT&T Managed Threat Detection and Response (MTDR), which protects with 24/7 security monitoring from the experts at AT&T Cybersecurity, powered by the award-winning Unified Security Management platform and AT&T Alien Labs™
threat intelligence.

“We knew we needed syslog monitoring, but we didn’t know which solution would match exactly what we needed,” Dearth said. “After carefully considering many options, AT&T MTDR proved to be the best solution to fit our needs. AT&T was the most willing to work with us and accommodate our needs for specific features, and help with our hardware rollout.”

Substantially Better Security and Communication

Dearth credits AT&T Business with assisting DAS Acquisition to enhance security and improve flexibility and communication. “With the new ability to identify malicious intent, our security is substantially better, thanks to MTDR,” he said. “And communication is the best we’ve ever had, thanks to Office@Hand.”

Equally important are the ongoing evaluations that AT&T Business conducts for DAS Acquisition. “When AT&T brings IT experts to discuss our business technology practices, they ask questions we may not have known to ask ourselves,” Dearth said. And if the experts from AT&T Business identify a gap, “AT&T usually has a solution to put in place,” Dearth said. “Our account representative is the best; she’s helped out more than I can express.” The solutions will support the company’s expansion plans. “Continued growth is inevitable with our momentum,” Dearth concluded. “We chose these AT&T Business products because they fit our needs and support limitless growth.”

Click here to read the full Customer Success Story.

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