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Finding the best UTM on the block

Wana Tun | Oct. 20, 2014
Here is a checklist for SMBs and what features to look out for in order to properly evaluate UTMs

As cyber threats evolve and become more sophisticated, it is essential that companies select strong protection to safeguard their networks. With the growing popularity of Unified Threat Management (UTM) and the wide selection available on the market, organisations, especially small and medium businesses (SMBs), are bound to face difficulties discerning which device is the best.

Many SMBs are still not aware of the different network security threats, lack dedicated IT professionals and security experts within the company, and often assume simple antivirus or firewall tools can protect them. However, most SMBs have the same infrastructure and security needs as the larger organizations and would hence require a more comprehensive tool for defence.

A UTM device is a set of security software integrated on a single device. Most organisations can choose the security elements they prefer and manage it with a central console. With its simple configuration, deployment and range of security tools in a setup, SMBs can benefit not only from saving time and money, but also a stronger security posture.

When a company reviews UTMs, there are two things to consider: the overall benefits offered by the UTM approach, and how the individual network security features meets its unique needs. Here is a checklist for SMBs and what features to look out for in order to properly evaluate UTMs:

Network security
Attackers change and adapt their breach methods to avoid being detected so it is critical to ensure a UTM device first and foremost provides basic network protection. Most large businesses have resources to identify, defend or dedicated staff against threats. SMBs cannot afford to do the same so in order to maximize their budgets, they should look for a product that offers layered security features.
Features: Intrusion prevention system (IPS), advanced threat protection (ATP), site-to-site VPN options, remote access options and office support, detailed reports and statistics on network bandwidth usage and security.  

Web security
The Internet is a cheap and useful way for SMBs to promote their businesses but most are unaware of threats such as malicious URLs. Some use basic web filters but these merely inspect traffic on the sidelines. With web protection, a UTM can stop malware and viruses from entering and provide detailed reporting on how effective security measures are.
Features: URL filtering, spyware protection, antivirus scanning, HTTPS scanning, application control, interactive web reporting

Web server protection
SMBs leverage the web for e-commerce and it is crucial to secure transactions. Web application weaknesses are exposed when they are connected to an internet server. Securing web servers prevent hackers from using SQL injection and cross-site scripting attacks from stealing sensitive data such as credit card information. It should also ensure the company achieves regulatory compliance when a web application firewall, which scans activity and identifies attempts to exploit web applications are needed.
Features: Form hardening, antivirus scanning, URL hardening, cookie protection, two-factor authentication


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