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Leading-Edge UTM: What C-level execs need to know

Earl Follis and Ed Tittel | May 14, 2014
Network and boundary security are more important than ever for organizations of all sizes. A variety of security specialist firms now offer leading-edge virtual and physical devices for Unified Threat Management (UTM) to raise the security bar ever higher and respond proactively to zero-day threats.

As the complexity of cloud technologies and the adoption of mobile devices on corporate networks continue to grow exponentially, keeping users and data protected from a variety of security threats is now a mission-critical undertaking. Corresponding advances in Unified Threat Management (UTM) technology gives C-level executives a variety of options for managing multi-platform threats under a single pane of glass. UTM covers more than traditional core networks and applications. These tools also push threat monitoring to the edge of your network, also covering wired and wireless connections.

Given the sophistication of UTM products on the market, you no longer need a team of security engineers to actively — yet manually — monitor network threats. Comprehensive UTM tools are available to protect all computing platforms, applications and infrastructure components under a scalable threat management umbrella. UTM can be implemented via physical UTM appliances, virtual UTM appliances, or by combining the two. UTM service subscriptions are also available from some vendors.

UTM Offers Single-console, Converged Security

The "U" in UTM refers to a unified or combined threat management approach that manages and monitors security for applications, load balancers, firewalls and antivirus, anti-spam and intrusion detection systems. Cutting-edge UTM products offer an approach that converges security capabilities for servers, desktops, laptops and mobile devices into a single physical or virtual UTM environment.

One stated goal of UTM is the ability to enforce all threat management services across any device type while uniting data within a single interface and underlying database. This unification of threat data allows for correlation of threats, the capability to monitor UTM service level agreements (SLAs) and combined reporting from a single dataset.

If your current UTM strategy relies on disparate, unintegrated software to protect different platforms, operating systems or applications, your IT department may be exposing your organization to significant increased risk. There's a chance that, when real security threats occur in your environment, your technology staff might not recognize the scope or severity of those threats because they can't easily correlate UTM activity across multiple security tools.

A single, logical view of your overall security environment and posture enables such correlation — and it promotes comprehensive, all-encompassing security policy enforcement. With that in mind, finding a solution that gives UTM protection to all your devices, networks, applications and platforms is key.

For instance, let's say you have threat management software that monitors mobile devices on your network, with a separate antivirus and anti-spam tool for managing email. If an infected attachment to an email introduces a threat that begins to adversely affect users' mobile devices, your security team might not make that correlation without integrated software covering both platforms. Integrated UTM software greatly increases the chances that concurrent threats can and will be correlated, either manually by your staff or, preferably, by the UTM software itself.


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