Sunday, August 28, 2011

Small Business Network Security With Unified Threat Management Appliances

Many small and medium sized businesses operate a network and understand the importance of establishing a firewall, to prevent attacks from outside and to stop undesirables sending valuable company data out through the gateway.
Many businesses do not!
According to a leading security report, 13% of small businesses operating a network have NO protection.
Approximately, one-third uses a home edition security product or a free trial or assessment solution.
In short, almost half of small businesses do not have any effective protection against external attack.
Part of this malaise with small businesses is not due to ignorance, but a lack of the impending certainty of loss; financial loss, data loss, reputation loss.
There are broadly two types of security threat facing any business network whether a small retail operation or a Fortune 500 enterprise.
Firstly, there are the specific attacks which are launched against an individual target or small, select group of targets. Typically, these attacks are launched against the larger companies or those with a particular item of value, such as a bank or financial entity. It is unlikely that a small company is going to be of much interest to criminals who have a specific target in mind, so it makes no sense to worry too much about implementing security against such threats, and in any event it is probably going to be out of the budget for most small businesses.
It is the second general set of threats which are of most concern for small businesses, and these are the general attacks primarily using the web, and particularly the web traffic running in and out of your network. We are referring to malware, viruses, spam, Trojans and the generally nasty pieces of code which can hide behind internet traffic and can infect a network simply by someone surfing to a Twitter account and allowing a mouse to hover over a link (as recently happened last month and currently LinkedIn vulnerabilities are being exploited).
In this instance, what is needed is security which can act as a firewall, allowing access through the gateway to traffic and users you select, but there is more than this. Aside from inspecting network traffic, there is a need for anti-virus to weed out the malware, and because malware can be distributed by a user clicking on a URL in an email, there needs to be anti-spam capability too.
The Solution: Unified Threat Management Appliance (UTM)
One reason why so many small and medium sized businesses have neglected their network security is because of the complexity and cost associated with establishing different solutions for different problems.
For instance, one box acted as a firewall, another as a router (or wireless router) to connect the network to the rest of the cloud, another box performed anti-virus, yet another dealt with anti-spam and then there was the need for a solution to handle the load of traffic through these boxes and through the gateway (load balancing).
In short, it was complicated, expensive and very difficult to manage it all.
Unified Threat Management appliances did away with the need for all these "point" solutions and instead, integrated them into a single, unified solution. With a UTM solution, all you have to worry about is one box, with one set of management issues, one vendor to deal with and one support contract but most of all, the cost of a UTM solution is clearly within the budget for even the smallest of small businesses.

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