Luana Savings Bank

Luana Savings Bank experiences zero malware infections with 100% uptime with Cloudflare

Since its founding 1908, Luana Savings Bank has evolved from its origins as an agricultural lender into one of Iowa’s ten largest banks. With around $2 billion assets under management, the family-owned Luana employs over 100 employees across six branches in Iowa and has been recognized as one of the most efficient banks nationally.

“Efficiency is everything at Luana. Most banks our size employ two to three hundred people — that is around 2-3 times our size,” explains Grant Langhus, Luana’s Manager of Information Technology.

Challenge: Persistent malware infections

With only a team of two (himself included), Grant Langhus, Manager of Information Technology, must emphasize efficiency to secure Luana and navigate the strict regulations of the financial services industry. Luana has maintained a traditional on-premise approach to IT and security focused on virtualization and network segmentation.

“As a bank, we are obviously very security-conscious and attempt to keep as much data on-premise as we can” says Langhus. “We host our core business applications and software locally using secure virtualization software.”

Still, when Langhus first joined in 2011, Luana was consistently vulnerable to Internet-borne malware, and Langhus recalls the intrusion detection system “lighting up like a Christmas tree across the board.” Every month, his team was rebuilding and conducting forensics investigations on at least one infected desktop machine or server. These malware infections not only posed critical security risks, but also money and significant repair effort hindered business efficiency.

“We couldn’t just disconnect our machines from the Internet, and when our malware identification and prevention systems lit up, it was already too late.” says Langhus. “We needed a proactive rather than a reactive solution if we didn’t want to make the news.”

Temporary fix: Adopting on-premise Remote Browser Isolation

To mitigate these malware infections, Luana began using an on-premise remote browser isolation (RBI) service. This meant that when employees browsed the Internet, all website code ran on remote servers, not local devices, thereby keeping threats far away from end users.

Isolation has proven to be effective in preventing threats. In the seven years since Luana first adopted RBI, the company has not had a device infected by malware from Internet browsing. Luana has saved at least $23K per year by not needing to buy a new device or rebuild an infected one each month and saves at least 12 labor hours per month by not wasting time investigating infections.

However, relying on an on-premise RBI service became inefficient over time. The service was prone to outages that only the vendor could address – sometimes, taking as long as a few hours – and support was unsatisfactory. In addition, the configuration and scaling to new users and use cases were complex and cumbersome.

“The prior service worked, but there was a learning curve. It was not intuitive, and it took serious effort to create new instances as we needed them,” says Langhus. “Even then, uptime was only around 96%, which was not ideal. As our provider grew, it took them longer and longer to respond — nobody could work while we waited for the issue to be resolved.”

Long-term solution: Adopting RBI in the cloud with Cloudflare

Putting aside a preference for traditional on-premise technology, Luana selected Cloudflare Browser Isolation as a cloud-delivered RBI alternative. This switch would mean that all website code would now run on Cloudflare’s network – not local servers – when users browsed the Internet.

Langhus had built a positive impression of Cloudflare from its contributions to Internet security at large, and during the evaluation process, was impressed by both the speed of the Cloudflare network and the collaboration across product, engineering, and sales teams.

Transitioning was “absolutely seamless,” according to Langhus, and so far, has continued to keep the organization safe and productive without any downtime.

Rigorous security with simplified policy management

First, Luana continues to save precious time and thousands of dollars in machine repairs annually by avoiding malware infections.

“With Cloudflare Browser Isolation, we're blocking threats so much earlier than any other security device that catches or mitigates cyber security issues,” says Langhus. “Malicious code doesn’t hit our computers. Browser Isolation is the quickest and easiest way that we can deal with malware issues.”

Plus, Cloudflare’s simplified policy management experience makes it easier for Langhus’s team to set granular rules for specific user groups. Configurations that used to take Langhus “three hours per month” with the on-premise RBI now take “minutes” and “as few as 90 seconds” with Cloudflare – as much as a 99% improvement in administrative efficiency.

Delivering fast, consistent end user experiences

End users also benefit from fast and unintrusive isolated sessions that feel closer to native browsing. Luana’s prior RBI service struggled with latency, particularly with scrolling on bandwidth-intensive pages with video, audio, or interactive components. Those complaints have gone away since the switch to Cloudflare.

“The move to Cloudflare brought exceptional isolated browsing performance that consistently meets or beats our prior on-prem RBI,” Langus said.

With the previous on-premise RBI, traffic remained within a traditional network perimeter – from on-site devices to on-site RBI controls. Now with Cloudflare, Luana routes traffic outside that perimeter – from on-site devices to Cloudflare’s network. Despite this fundamental architectural shift, speed and reliability have remained comparable.

Moreover, Luana has relied on RBI to control how users interact with Internet pages, including blocking upload and downloads of data and restricting printing. But, according to Langhus, with the prior on-premise RBI, “it was really hit or miss whether those data protection controls actually worked.”

“Since transitioning to Cloudflare,” he continued, “usability for everyone has been much better, and controls are applied more consistently.”

Improving technology efficiency

Ultimately, implementing Cloudflare Browser Isolation has helped Luana maintain its reputation for operational and technology efficiency.

“Cloudflare and its RBI service have allowed us to stay lean and keep our budget down,” Langhus says. “We don’t need to hire experts to deal with security issues or spend time deploying or fixing computers.”

Luana will continue to maintain a majority of its infrastructure on-premise, but is exploring the broader potential of applying Zero Trust security best practices for applications and data, particularly for employees who work outside the bank’s branches in the field. In the meantime, however, Langhus will continue to evangelize the benefits for RBI.

“RBI is an effective technology that just needs to get in the right hands,” Langhus said. “Cloudflare has lowered the bar to entry, and I hope more people will recognize the benefits and not be afraid to just get in there and use it.”

Luana Savings Bank
Related Products
Key Results
  • $23k saved annually in computer repairs from malware infection

  • Up to 99% improvement in policy management efficiency by switching from on-premise Remote Browser Isolation to Cloudflare Browser Isolation

  • 100% uptime and consistent, fast user experiences across 100+ employees

With Cloudflare Browser Isolation, we're blocking threats so much earlier than any other security device that catches or mitigates cyber security issues. Malicious code doesn't hit our computers. Browser Isolation is the quickest and easiest way we can deal with malware issues.

Grant Langhus
Manager of Information Technology

The move to Cloudflare brought exception isolated browsing performance that consistently meets or beats our prior on-prem appliances.

Grant Langhus
Manager of Information Technology