Amidst a whole new set of challenges, organisations need to ensure they maintain control of the corporate network
The corporate network lies at the heart of a business, providing access to mission critical applications and organisational information, enabling vital business processes and providing a platform for electronic and Voice over IP (VoIP) communications. If the network is compromised, it not only negatively impacts productivity but can bring business to a screeching halt.
Organisations are now faced with a whole new set of challenges, including the need to reduce operating costs, the mobilisation of the workforce, compliance requirements, and the trend in outsourcing growth, while still needing to gain competitive advantage. Technology trends such as the growth in real-time and Internet-based applications and communication; Software as a Service (SaaS); Web 2.0; the virtualisation of services and increases in bandwidth and volume of traffic have changed the way in which corporate networks are utilised. Employees are increasingly utilising network services, for both productive and unproductive purposes, and never before has there been such a great need for maintaining a high-speed network and information sharing.
Says Martin Tassev, MD at LOOPHOLD Security Distribution, local distributor of leading secure network infrastructure products, “Advances in technology and changes in business practices are, however, making the corporate network increasingly vulnerable. Remote and mobile staff, contractors, suppliers and clients now all access the corporate network from virtually anywhere using wired and wireless technologies and a broad range of unmanaged client devices such as cell phones, PDAs, PCs and laptops.”
Many organisations are experiencing rampant network misuse, unknown application use, as well as an increase in new threats, which are now ‘invisible’. This puts organisations in a quandary, as increasing security typically has a negative effect on bandwidth efficiency, which cannot be jeopardised due to increased performance demands on the corporate network.
The current response
The most common response to these new challenges has been to simply add multiple solutions from different vendors to ‘plug holes’, with little to no integration. While this may work in the short-term, the result is a higher overall cost of ownership, as well as an required increase in resources to manage the many solutions as well as performance concerns. These pitfalls of point products mean that this approach doesn’t make sense in the long run, particularly given that the corporate network has become the backbone of the modern organisation.
Next generation protection
Network safeguards need to evolve with threats; a solution must offer inspection that is both complete and scalable. The proliferation of application-use in the workplace means that application visibility has become paramount to overcome the next generation of threats and productivity issues.
Next generation protection should offer the following:
1. Consolidates and integrate security technology: The solution should cover a wide spectrum of content-based, file-based and application layer attacks 2. Application visibility: The solution should offer inspection of real-time and latency sensitive applications or traffic 3. Scalable and high-performing: The solution should offer high speed protection against perimeter and internal network challenges
In essence, protection needs to be multi-tiered and integrated.
The case for UTM
With an increasing need to bolster network security yet meet new performance demands, as well as resource and budget restrictions, Unified Threat Management (UTM) has emerged as the most practical, effective and affordable solution for organisations. UTM simplifies an organisation’s network defenses by combining multiple countermeasures that provide protection against multiple types of threats, operating across multiple layers of the computing stack in a single physical device. It offers reduced cost of ownership and enhanced security, as well as additional benefits such as simplicity and ease of management, to name a few.
Comments Tassev, “The new threat environment and the criticality of the corporate network necessitate that organisations consolidate their security solution and ensure it is scalable to meet future demands. Simplifying the maintenance of networks is a must, as organisations cannot afford downtime and network administrators can’t be bogged down with the extra work associated with multiple point solutions. For these reasons, a UTM solution has become a corporate ‘must-have’.”