CrowdStrike Falcon Review

Allows us to be more involved with how the business is being run from a security, risk, and compliance standpoint

What is our primary use case?

The initial use case was for CrowdStrike to be a replacement for McAfee. We wanted to come up with something that was a lot more adaptive to emerging world threats and not just strictly signature-based. We wanted something focused a lot more on heuristic analysis and pattern analysis first, e.g., isn't just sheer signature. Additional use cases are workstation servers and as much as we can do in our OT environment.

How has it helped my organization?

It has allowed our security team to have more time and resources built into things that are used to run the business versus needing to babysit our antivirus platform, or any malware platform. With what we have been paying for, it allows us to be a lot more involved with how the business is being run from a security, risk, and compliance standpoint.

We have signed up for Falcon Complete, which is their completely managed service. This has done nothing but paid dividends since we have rolled it out. Slightly before I started, there was a ransomware issue. CrowdStrike did exactly what it was supposed to when we joined networks with the company that we were acquiring. So, that was helpful to us.

To the best of our knowledge, it has stopped everything that we have seen. It has allowed us to focus our efforts on other things relevant to how the overall business functions.

It helps us in the M&A environment because it is a very simple, easy tool to deploy, being pretty much all cloud-based. While we're not building our security practice around it, it is a tool that we want to make sure does integrate well, if at all possible, with any new tool that we purchase moving forward.

What is most valuable?

It is especially important to us that CrowdStrike Falcon is a cloud-native solution. We have a directive for cloud-first architecture at this point. Anything that is cloud-native, or has a cloud offering, will always get first billing over something that is on-prem. We are a small security team. Having the ability to have a service or application that is not wholly managed by us, but rather governed and used by us, is the ideal solution.

The flexibility comes from allowing us to do a mass push, if we need to. We would find always-on protection with pretty much any solution. However, the fact that it is in the cloud, that just makes it that much better.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see a little bit more in the offline scanning ability. This just comes from my background in what I have done in other positions. They only scan on demand, so I always have this fear that we sometimes maybe email out a dormant virus and can be held liable for that. That is something where I would like to see a little bit more robustness to the tool. 

For how long have I used the solution?

U.S. Venture has been using it since the first quarter of 2019. I, however, did not start with the organization until the Summer of 2020.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been very stable. There have been no real issues that we have had in the deployment or use of the CrowdStrike system in general. There has been zero downtime.

For our workstations, we don't worry about the updates. However, we have a tighter grip on updates for our server environment only because there was an issue at a point with one update. Since then, we would like to keep our deployments at an N-1. So, there is more of a check built-in just to make sure that the latest and greatest doesn't actually break anything unintentionally.

The CrowdStrike sensor is always kept at N-1 for our production servers. Our test servers are always up to date.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From what we have seen, it is very scalable. We have recently acquired a company where someone had a ransomware attack when we joined networks. Within the course of just a few days, we were able to easily get CrowdStrike rolled out to about 300 machines. That also included the removal of that company's legacy anti-malware tool.

We have all our desktop engineering group and server team as admins in the system, but they only use it for specific troubleshooting in their job roles. So, if the server team needs to do something, then they can just log in and do it as well as the desktop engineering group. They can just go in and do stuff, if it is something related to computers or servers. As far as for the overall management of the system, that is left to the security team.

It is currently being used to the extent that we need it. After CrowdStrike had their user conference last Fall, they introduced a lot of new tools, specifically one around forensic that we would like to get our hands on. However, there are no real plans for doing any major increases of its toolset. I do know that there is a project that will be going on for using its mobile application on some Android tablets, but it is still very much in its infancy. So, we are not quite sure how that will roll out yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have never used their standard technical support. I do everything through their unofficial Reddit support forum. Also, if there are any other major technical issues, then I work directly with our TAM. So, I have never just reached out and created a general support case. Therefore, I cannot speak to how well they respond. However, their unofficial Reddit support has been fantastic with helping me work through troubleshooting issues and a couple of queries, where I was having issues trying to get the syntax correct. They have been nothing but helpful.

I believe they have their actual support engineers on Reddit, but there is no SLA nor anything guaranteed on that Reddit page. They claim that right there in the subreddit rule. However, I have had nothing but good luck working through them. It could take a few hours to one or two days to get a response, but it has always been for things that aren't pressing. For things that are pressing, then it is a direct call or email to our technical account manager who is very responsive.

They have a great online forum for customer use cases. That has been a great crowd sourcing thing. It is unofficial. I just stumbled across it, but the subreddit for their support has been spectacular for many reasons.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previous to CrowdStrike, our organization was using McAfee VSE with McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO). Switching from McAfee to CrowdStrike, we saw a reduction in resources being used on both the workstations and servers. We saw an increase in detections, be that good or bad. We would like to think it was a good thing, because now it is finding a lot more stuff that wasn't strictly signature-based. So, it provided almost a very lightweight SIEM-type of response. It was providing information about installed applications, account lockouts, and top console users. It was a very nice bonus to have that information in addition to just the general overall anti-malware that CrowdStrike is known for.

CrowdStrike is so much easier to use. The UI is far more intuitive. The breakout of how the policies as well as the organizational structure within the UI for how the computers are laid out is far more intuitive. It feels a lot more based around how AD kind of functions. Because I am already familiar with Active Directory, the move to using that in CrowdStrike is very seamless, at least in my mind.

The agent is far more lightweight than our previous antivirus solution. It is a lot less resource intensive. We don't have any more on-prem servers to manage for running the application, which is another benefit to being in the cloud. There are just a couple of holes punched in the firewall for communication in and out.

A lot of the switch was focused around the fact that CrowdStrike was solely a cloud-native solution as well as heuristics versus signature.

How was the initial setup?

It is very simple to deploy the solution’s sensor to our endpoints. Right now, it is part of our standard build process through a SCCM. So, it gets a version, then it is obviously outdated because our desktop engineering group can only update the image so quickly. Once it is checked into the cloud, it updates, decides to download, and gets the new seamless version. It has been wonderful to have and very helpful to us.

The initial setup was done in less than two months.

The implementation strategy was done how any other mass deployment is done. You take a small set of computers, put it on one, remove the old solution, and then run that group by itself, figuring out if there are any new or existing exemptions that needed to be in play. Once it is stable, it is rolled out to a larger group, the process is repeated, and then it is moved onto the servers.

What about the implementation team?

Overall, four people worked on the deployment: It would have been my predecessor, my other coworker, and two server guys to do the server environments.

What was our ROI?

Our ROI has been high compared to what we had with McAfee. We spend about two hours a month for its care and feeding, which is really low maintenance. We previously spent two to three times that amount of time managing our McAfee environment.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Pricing and licensing seem to be in line with what they offer. We are a smaller organization, so pricing is important. Obviously, we would make a business case if it is something we really needed or felt that we needed. So, the pricing is in line with what we are getting from a product standpoint.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Since moving to CrowdStrike, we have not looked at other endpoint management solutions. In fact, when we look at a new tool, we want to make sure it will play well with CrowdStrike, be it a new SIEM or anything cloud-based. 

What other advice do I have?

Make sure you know what the policies do. There are a lot of good and bad things that you can do with too strict or too loose of a policy governing workstations or servers.

We have evaluated the CrowdStrike Horizon module. We are not there yet. Our environment has not changed drastically since our last review of it. So, we have not felt the need to revisit it since then.

It is important to not solely rely on one product, especially one that has a good or bad name, such as McAfee. Because there was a lot of, "Oh no, we got an antivirus. We're fine." It helps to make sure you always have an in-depth defense strategy.

I would rate it a solid nine out of 10. 

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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