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Selecting an UTM

While information security has became the most important aspect for any form of business process, the mushrooming of vendors in the space of security management tools has also became a noticeable aspect. Even in today’s financially tough phase, security infrastructure is one such priority of users that has shown resistance.

There are certain security tools which security managers have patronized over a past couple of years. Among them UTM appliance is one. Factors like low cost of UTM solution coupled with the ease of deployment make it more popular among the SMBs.

While UTM vendors claim that it takes off the pain of managing security by controlling multiple security tools like firewalls, spam filtering, etc, there are a few security managers who are not happy with the performance aspect of this swiss-knife approach to security. The only reason for such an experience is their lack of planning and weak pre-deployment process of the UTM appliance. To avoid this kind of experience, security managers should take a systematic approach while shopping around for an UTM. This systematic approach entails a complete understanding of what these solutions can do and what they actually want from their UTM. This sounds very easy, but if ignored, it could change the entire deployment experience.

Network security is no longer just about keeping viruses, worms and other threats at bay. In an era of highly complex and blended threats, organisations have a very short window of time to respond to threats before it bring down network, leak critical data and tarnish the reputation beyond repair. Therefore, the decision to deploy an UTM should be well informed and thought out.

So what should you be really looking for while deploying an UTM for your infrastructure? To start with, security managers should look at getting a complete integrated solution that should have firewall, VPN, gateway anti-virus and anti-spyware, gateway anti-spam, intrusion prevention system, content filtering, as well as bandwidth management and multiple link management – all over a single platform. Organisations can choose and zero in on the best productivity and security features that match their needs.

In a scenario where mainly threats are from internal than external, centralized reporting and management also become vital features that security administrators should look for in an UTM solution. Organisations with branch offices and remote locations need to maintain the same levels of security in these locations as the central office. While the threats faced by these locations are at the same level as the central office, organizations need to maintain high security while keeping expenses under control.

The standard advice is to choose a UTM solution that meets your security needs. There is a raft of solutions in the market that claims to defend against a variety of threats. It becomes essential for enterprises to judge “Critical Impact Value” of a particular threat and the corresponding ROI from the appliance. However, that will differ from organisation to organisation as there are significant differences between verticals in terms of business pain points and drivers and concerns for deployment in a particular security. For example in educational institutes the UTM suite of features must include the Content filtering which effectively fulfils the need to shield young minds from viewing unwarranted and malafide content on the net. Similarly, for segments like government and defence there is a pressing need to protect sensitive data and the inclusion of IDP is in the feature suite is a must.

While talking of these many points, getting proper post sales support from the vendor is also very critical for a successful deployment. Yes, in the UTM deployment there is a need to check vendor credibility over the issue of a support as well because security devoid of good support is bad choice. The vendor support system should be able to rapidly scale its support capabilities in step with the growth of their customer base. Only then customer satisfaction and responsiveness will be effectively addressed and by reducing business impact due to incidents through quick resolution time.

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