WD Meats

Company Overview

WD Meats is a family business with a long association to the livestock industry dating back more than 100 years. Founded in 1979, WD Meats moved to a modern, custom built 100,000 sq ft plant on a 35-acre site in the heart of Coleraine, in 1987.

The company is self-sufficient, holding sustainability and ethical farming at the heart of its business. Every aspect of the company’s processing operation is provided in-house, relying on Information Systems and Services supported by their IT Services Team.

The Challenge

As an agile indigenous business, the business is constantly looking to improve how they run its operations. Working within the manufacturing industry, any unplanned downtime is costly and results in lost revenue, which can debilitate effectiveness as well as their ability to remain competitive.

The company experienced a cyber-attack in early 2022 and, while it remained operational throughout the incident, the event highlighted certain gaps within its infrastructure and business processes and the need for a robust digital strategy to be at the forefront. They engaged with KPMG to Identify, Protect, Detect and Respond to the attack and utilized CylancePROTECT and CylanceGUARD (both of which remain in place, providing the company with a 24/7/365 Security Operations Centre as a Service). However, the company needed additional support for the Recovery process following the attack.

Through a referral, trusted advisors, Outsource Group were recommended to help the recovery from their cyber incident, to transform their security posture, and improve the levels of service and support for the company’s IT Systems. Initially, a crisis team was deployed for 48 hours to assess the compromised systems, identify likely root causes and provide recommendations. The company had two underpinning goals to be applied during this process: to maximize the ROI for existing IT infrastructure, and to partner with the on-site IT Services Team in the development of improved levels of service and support.

The initial 48-hour deep dive and exploration workshop allowed Outsource Group to understand the threat landscape and the motivation of the attackers, in relation to the impact of the attack on business-critical assets. Using the information gleaned, they worked with the IT Services Team on a recovery and improvement plan, which was aligned with business priorities. Changes were agreed, tested, and implemented as quickly as possible allowing Outsource Group to demonstrate the effectiveness of the recommendations in real time and providing confidence to the company around mitigation for future cyber-attacks.


Like many businesses of this type, operational pressures and demands sometimes take priority over IT decision-making. The following were key areas of focus during the recovery and improvement stages:

A review discovered that around 50% of user accounts had administrative privileges. The result of a busy IT Team who ‘just needed to get it working’ for production, coupled with poor application security design, resulted in elevated rights being required to achieve simple tasks. A new domain was designed and implemented using best practices, reducing these privileges to a small number of accounts that were not used for everyday tasks, drastically reducing the attack surface, and mitigating the risk of compromised accounts.  A new File Plan was developed and linked to Security Groups. NTFS permissions were incorporated, reducing access and visibility to membership rights. Staff can only access what they are permitted to. The result was a significantly reduced attack surface, limited to their membership and minimises the impact of a future compromise. A successful attack on a member of the sales team, for example, will not provide access to files used by the accounts team.

Several servers and client devices were found to be on legacy unsupported Operating Systems, with security patching, and pre-attack, not having the priority required. The new domain allowed for a complete refresh of the servers and a steady roll-out of updated client Operating Systems, providing the company with compliance, reduced risk, and improved performance. Security patching is now prioritised and, although it remained
a manual task for a while has become a daily focus with updates being tested and applied in line with change and patch management procedures.

With the new domain online, we then linked the current Office 365 with the new accounts, this was performed using soft/hard match of accounts which has led to enabling password hash synchronisation and SSO for applications such as their ERP system which has enhanced the end-user experience and allowed the application to come under conditional access policies to enhance security.

Technology used

  • Managed Service
  • OSG Cloud
  • Hosted Firewall
  • Windows Upgrade
  • Mobile Device Management
  • Data Migration
  • Dedicated Lease Line


The company have now moved to a Managed Service offering and all key servers and clients are managed by Outsource Group, with a focus on Backup and Recovery (including O365), Systems Monitoring and Device Security Patching. This provides the IT Services Team with higher levels of focused support for day-to-day IT Operations, alongside Incident and Project support into the future, while providing the senior team with improved assurance for Business Continuity. Understanding the challenges faced by WD Meats and combining their combined skill set and years of experience into the relationship, allowing for an expedient deployment of effective solutions, aligned with business priorities and constraints.


  • Increased Security & Monitoring
  • Reduced downtime Reinforced
  • Reliable backup
  • Enhanced scalability
  • Modernised IT estate
  • Infrastructure
  • Increased efficiency with Fast
Quote marks

“The experience that Outsource Group provided, and their incident response to the cyber-attack was vital in getting the business recovered and on track to become secure. Their ongoing support to the on-site IT Services Team is invaluable. The whole OSG Team is a pleasure to work with, professional and responsive”

– Simon Fletcher – Business Improvement Manager/IT Services Support

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