Determine the key factors in selecting the right Unified Threat Management for your business

19 Oct 2018

Start reading the headlines in the morning each day and it is often hard to avoid finding out about another cyber attack or data breach. With the intense pressure facing enterprises in recent years, many have bought multiple cyber defence solutions to handle the various threats they face.

The problem with that is complexity. With so many security appliances and services in place, many enterprises are forced to spend time, money and effort to look at each of them and make them work together. They end up looking at each report and trying to make sense of the different findings.

This is why many enterprises are beginning to explore Unified Threat Management (UTM) as a smarter way forward. Instead of managing each disparate security device, they are seeking to install a security appliance or cloud-based security service that does multiple jobs and presents a coherent picture via a single interface of what is happening.

Key to this is ease of use and management. When a cyber security expert is not preoccupied trying to make all the different devices work together, he is able to focus on hunting down specific threats facing the enterprise.


UTM versus next-generation firewall

When UTM is brought up, it is often compared to a next-generation firewall. Indeed, research firm Gartner defines the UTM market as multi-function firewalls used by small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) with 100 to 1,000 employees.

However, in Singapore, SMBs are defined as up to 200 employees. So, for many large enterprises here, the technology will bring attractive benefits, whether you are talking about UTM or next-generation firewalls.

That is because UTM encompasses many valuable security tools, such as browser-based management, ease of configuration, embedded reporting, virtual private networking, localised software, excellent partner support and documentation, according to Gartner.

And while the technology is attractive to SMBs because it offers simplicity and affordability, it can be scaled up flexibly for large enterprises as well. That is one of its key strengths.

Available as both an on-premise appliance and a cloud-based service, UTM can be easily set up wherever it is needed. With settings ready to go at the moment of firing up, it gets an enterprise up to speed fast.


Security Technologies to consider

Usually, a UTM solution comprises many of the technology features that are bought, set up and run as separate appliances or services in the past. These may include:

1.       Stateful firewall and DDoS prevention

A stateful firewall keeps out intruders at the main gate, just as DDoS (distributed denial of service) prevention ensures that legitimate users get in while keeping out the known bad guys from wreaking havoc.

2.       Virtual private networking (VPN)

Assuming someone is able to get inside a network, VPN enables an enterprise to encrypt the communications, making it tougher for an attacker to steal the information.

3.       Next-generation firewall

Beyond a regular firewall, this gives an enterprise enhanced features and an improved view of the network, often providing a better defence, as a result.

4.       Antivirus

Applied throughout the network in different forms, for example, to scan for suspicious incoming e-mail or at the uploads at the Web server, it is key to keeping out commonly found malware.

5.       Anti-spam

Protecting e-mails is an important part of the equation, starting with keeping out spam from users’ inboxes.

6.       Web application control

This helps to secure important apps that run on the Web, enabling a business to function without being disrupted by a cyber attack.

7.       Data loss prevention

Aimed at preventing confidential or sensitive data from being leaked, this prevents a user from secretly transferring that data from one domain to another.


Remotely secure to protect your data and staff

One showcase of how flexible and secure UTM can be is the way it works with remote offices. Since an UTM appliance is easy to set up, with minimal configuration and management, it can be connected up quickly.

This means it can be managed centrally without requiring any input from remote employees. By routing the network traffic through the UTM solution, threats coming in from the Web or e-mail are identified and stopped before they reach the remote employees.

The same principle applies to users who are on the go or working from home. By having the traffic automatically go through an UTM scan, they can enjoy the same level of security without worrying about setting up their own cyber defence solutions.


Picking the right way to future-proof and scale

Clearly, UTM’s flexibility and scalability ensure that it does its job just as well in a wide variety of scenarios. Enterprises should seek a solution that is future-proof, seeing how rapidly threats morph and change over time. They have to determine on what platform the solution should run, to bring its full benefits to bear.

When seeking a UTM solution, here are some questions that enterprises should ask:

1.       Should an enterprise deploy an UTM as an appliance in the office? Or, should it be set up as software on the cloud, close to the data? Perhaps it can run as a virtual appliance, if that suits enterprises operating virtual environments.

2.       Ultimately, what an enterprise chooses depends on its risk assessment. Does it know what threats it is facing, for example? Which part of the enterprise is most in danger of an attack? Answering these questions will help determine how a UTM solution is rolled out.

Enterprises have to pick a solution that is easy to set up, manage and use. It has to be flexible and scalable. Deployed well, UTM will reduce the complexity plaguing so many enterprises in their fight against cyber attacks today. That helps keep intruders at bay.

Find out how StarHub’s Managed Security Appliance Services can safeguard your business.

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