Skylark opened their first restaurant in 1970, as a pioneer of the Japanese family restaurant industry. Today, approximately 400 million customers a year enjoy a meal at one of their more than 3,000 restaurants located throughout Japan.
In 2011, the group adopted Office 365 for their headquarters, and applied Active! gate SS and Active! vault SS as security applications for their IT network.

Customer Profile
SKYLARK CO., LTD. (Tokyo, Japan)
Food Service

How can attachments in Office 365 email be encrypted automatically?

The information system group of Skylark plans, develops, and operates all of their IT. They actively use cloud services, and decided to adopt Office 365 from a very early stage in comparison to other Japanese companies. Mr. Kazuo Sakai, of Corporate Support Division, Information System Group in Headquarter System Team, explained the factors behind the decision as follows. “Our headquarters and related divisions were using the on-site Microsoft Exchange Server email system. But with consideration to business continuity and crisis management, we decided to switch our email system to the cloud-based Office 365 in 2011. We were the first or second company to adopt Office 365 in Japan.”

After several years had passed from when the initial adoption was implemented, a number of new issues arose. Some concerns were being voiced about information leakage through attachments. Looking back, Mr. Sakai explains “From 2012 to 2013, problems relating to a series of serious information leakages appeared in the news media. To address these problems we urgently needed to enhance our email security measures. Eventually, we were able to narrow down the solution to the auto-encryption of attachments.” As Office 365 doesn’t have a function to auto-encrypt attachments in emails, the company was initially considering a way to combine an add-on solution with Outlook. Mr. Hidehito Kitamura, of PC & Internet Team, details the background. “If we used a third-party add-on solution with Outlook, it would enable attachments to be encrypted automatically. But the process of installing an add-on came with many problems and, we were concerned that installing the add-on to approximately 2,000 devices would result in a particularly heavy workload. As part of ongoing discussions, one of our group companies introduced Active! gate SS.”

In the case of combining the cloud-based Office 365 with Outlook and a third-party add-on which are not cloud-based, the convenience of the cloud service is drastically impaired. In addition, it would have been expensive and troublesome and a big burden on our system administrators. A cloud-based encryption solution in coordination with Office 365 was needed to resolve these problems. and Active! gate SS suited these requirements.

Not only auto-encryption, but also the holding of outbound emails temporarily attracted their interest

Skylark tested Active! gate SS for a few months. Mr. Hidehito Kitamura talks about his impression as follows. “The initialization method to linkup with Office 365 was very easy. Our utmost confidence in the auto-encryption of attachments safely and surely was realized. And, in the process of the trial, we also had our eyes on the function which temporarily holds outbound emails. Honestly, before adopting Office 365, we even had advice from clients to look for a function which can allow the cancellation of sent emails.

Unfortunately, we were never able to assist them, until Active! gate SS solved this problem!”

This temporary holding function of Active! gate SS enabled us to hold outbound emails for a specified fixed term. The administrator can flexibly set the policy of emails to hold according to the company’s requirements.

“After the trial, we started to operate Active! gate SS in 2014. We have been using the auto-encryption of attachments function and the temporary holding of outbound emails function since the launch. We are also using the web download function. When the size of an attachment is more than 5 MB, the file is separated automatically and the user can download it from the web download center. Two years have passed since the launch and we have had no major problems in management and of course no information leakages have occurred” explains Mr. Sakai with considerable satisfaction.

Expanding the use of Office 365 to the restaurant chain and adopting Active! vault SS

Skylark expanded the use of Office 365 from limited use in their headquarters to their entire restaurant chain. Accordingly, they adopted Active! vault SS as an email archiving service with great cost performance.

To adjust email archiving for different Office 365 accounts and different plans

In Skylark, there were two different Office 365 plans – one for headquarters and another for chain restaurants. The staff at headquarters, who were sending emails to external clients directly, had the higher plan. But the restaurant staff had shared use of email accounts for internal use only, and so had a low-cost plan. In such a scenario, due to the lack of adequate archiving functionalities from Office 365, Active! vault SS helped them to manage archiving much more effectively and with lower management costs.