As a rapidly-growing company, Visma provides business-critical software solutions to over a million customers with a focus on simplifying business processes and user experience using machine learning and automation. With 200 companies under its umbrella, Visma has a presence in twenty countries and acquires dozens of companies each year. The overall organization has over 1 million customers in the Nordics, Benelux, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
Visma Enterprise is one of several Visma companies and they serve 1100 customers in Finland. Among other services, it operates Wilma, a school-focused software tool the entire Finnish school system uses to record grades, absences, and student documentation, and to communicate with parents. The platform was especially critical to providing important information to parents during the COVID-19 pandemic and is visited by an average of one million active users each month.
In April 2021, Wilma was targeted by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that overwhelmed Visma Enterprise’s then-existing DDoS prevention solutions, disrupting its operations and threatening its ability to fulfill service level agreements (SLAs) with its customers.
Together with its data center provider, the company explored a variety of potential solutions, but none were able to stop the attack, which was impacting the data center’s other customers as well. The only remaining option was to look for another vendor that could potentially help to protect against these attacks in the future.
Based upon its own research and recommendations from trusted partners, Visma Enterprise identified Cloudflare as a potential solution to its problem. Over a weekend, Cloudflare and Visma Enterprise teamed up to move Wilma behind the protection of Cloudflare Magic Transit, which provides DDoS protection for network infrastructure After some final fine-tuning on Monday, the company turned on Magic Transit Tuesday morning.
After activating Magic Transit, Visma Enterprise saw immediate effects. According to Kim Hisinger, Product Development Director, “During that first hour, we saw everything just started working again really quickly. All our solutions came back online. When we looked at the statistics, it was working and stopping the DDoS attacks.”
Wilma is still targeted by frequent DDoS attacks, but none of these attackers have been able to take Wilma offline. According to Hisinger, “If an attack starts to slip through, we open a ticket, and Cloudflare helps to tweak the settings. We’ve never had the same attack get through more than once. I think that’s a really good track record.”
Wilma’s importance to the Finnish school system makes it highly visible to attackers and parents. While DDoS attacks typically don't result in data breaches, reports of cyberattacks against Visma raise parents’ concerns.
According to Hisinger, Magic Transit helps Visma Enterprise to meet the needs of its customers and assuage these fears. He says, “By using Magic Transit, we show that we are a company that takes security and the protection of students’ personal data really, really seriously. We demonstrate that we can protect our solutions and know what we’re doing.”
In addition to blocking frequent DDoS attacks and freeing up personnel to focus on addressing other threats and managing corporate IT assets, Visma Enterprise has also found that Magic Transit has improved Wilma’s performance. By filtering out malicious traffic, Magic Transit has reduced load on Wilma’s servers and enabled pages to load more quickly.
According to Hisinger, the switch to Cloudflare has been a positive experience throughout the entire process. He says, “I would absolutely recommend Cloudflare just based on the experience of getting it set up and that the product does its job well. The support experience is also excellent and flows very well.”
Visma looks forward to continuing their working relationship with Cloudflare, and cites Cloudflare Services and Support as one of the reasons. “It’s not every day that you get a company that really invests in your experience. I can tell that Cloudflare really wants us to succeed. Even if we’re on a call in the middle of the night, the Cloudflare team is always helpful and professional,” said Hisinger.
Sustained multi-day DDoS attack mitigated within an hour by Magic Transit
Reduces outages of educational systems used by all Finnish Schools
Improved page load times by filtering out malicious traffic
“Magic Transit almost immediately started mitigating the attack, and all our solutions came back online within the hour. When we looked at the statistics, it was working and stopping the DDoS attacks.”
Product Development Director
“By using Magic Transit, we show that we are a company that takes security and the protection of students’ personal data really, really seriously. We have demonstrated that we can protect our solutions and know what we’re doing.”
Product Development Director