Application security

Spam dunk: Case study

While the fans cheer the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team in motion on the court of the Quicken Loans Arena (the “Q”) – in this their 45th season sometimes dressed in retro uniforms – in the offices of the Cavaliers Operating Company, attention was brought to bear on another type of uniform: The uniformity of signatures in email correspondence.

Headquartered in downtown Cleveland, with branches in Canton, Amherst and Independence, the Cavaliers Operating Company owns the Cleveland Cavaliers and manages the Q, the facility that hosts not only the Cavs, but hockey's Lake Erie Monsters and football's Cleveland Gladiators. It also is a major venue for concerts (Janet Jackson and Bruce Springsteen are there this month, and AC/DC, Justin Bieber and Carrie Underwood will be appearing in the next few months), family shows and other sporting events. In fact, the Q welcomes close to two million guests to 200-plus events each year.

The arena spotlights follow the action of the athletes on the court or the musicians on the stage, but behind the scenes there's plenty of action too. Out of sight and away from the cheers of the fans in the seats, less heralded but vital to the running of the operations, Robert Hageman (left), manager of network operations for the Cavaliers Operating Company, began a search to improve continuity and help solidify brand identity for the 45-year old sports and entertainment juggernaut.

“The problem we had was everyone creating their own signatures and everybody had their own little logos, etc.,” says Hageman. He, along with his nine-person IT team, really wanted everyone to have a uniform signature that included all the same information from one team member to the next.

This was important to the business for continuity reasons, he says. “That way no matter who our customers were working with within the organization, they knew what they could expect to see from one person to the next. They could come to expect the same look and information from everyone here.”

But there was another important reason to get everyone on the same page: to ensure that the vast array of emails his thousand-plus team members send avoid being trapped by spam filters. The Cavaliers Operating Company needed to architect a signature that works, Hageman says.

He and his director began a search for a solution to this problem, but they didn't have to look very long. “We stopped at Policy Patrol Disclaimers from OPSWAT as it was the first one we examined because the reviews were so positive.”

OPSWAT's Policy Patrol Disclaimers centrally adds user-based email signatures on Microsoft Exchange Server and ensures that emails contain a professional email signature along with the necessary legal disclaimer and company footer, says Mike Spykerman, vice president of product management at OPSWAT, a San Francisco-based software company that provides security software development tools and services. 

Disclaimers and signatures can contain images, links and formatting, he adds. Further, using Active Directory merge fields, each signature is personalized. 

“Policy Patrol Disclaimers removes the pain of having to ask each employee to manually update their signature every time details change or when a new employee joins,” Spykerman says. “By greatly simplifying the updating of email signatures, Policy Patrol also provides companies with the opportunity to use their email signatures as marketing tools, for instance, by including up-to-date news about company awards, events and promotions.”

After installing and testing the on-premise software, Hageman at Cavaliers agreed that it was solid, versatile and powerful in the things it could do. “It had all the features we were looking at. And as at that time we were using GIF images, it was one of very few that supported that need.”

Deployment went smoothly, he says. In fact, his team had little to no issues at all – and the ones they did have were minor and quickly solved.

Hageman says the software does what it needs to do and his team rarely if ever have any issues with it. “We've had it deployed for at least five years now and we've never had it be a reason for mail stoppage or anything. The software is solid and reliable, which is the reason it is still in place today.”

Policy Patrol includes an easy-to-use email signature editor, which allows users to design professional email signatures without requiring HTML skills, Spykerman says. The product also includes advanced options, such as dynamic email signature creation, proper placement of the signature within the email, insertion of dynamic QR codes and the ability to add different signatures on replies and forwards.

All changes to email signature templates and rules are instant, he adds. “Since Policy Patrol Disclaimers works at the server level, no updates need to be pushed out to clients or devices. When an individual's contact information is changed in Active Directory, their signature will immediately reflect the changes.”

And, in the new era of instantaneous connections from an array of mobile devices, since Policy Patrol adds email signatures at the server level, email signatures will be added to emails sent from any client – including mobile phones and tablets – allowing companies to ensure that all emails contain a consistent signature, Spykerman says.

“Policy Patrol has been a mainstay on our network for a reason and it will continue to be used into the foreseeable future,” says Hageman. “It is a rock solid piece of software that does what we need and it operates reliably. I'd recommend it to anyone.” 

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