Essential Guide

Unified threat management devices: Understanding UTM and its vendors

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Using UTM to lower costs, reduce latency and improve security rollouts

Unified threat management appliances are critical for improving future security rollouts, reducing costs and minimizing latency.

Editor's note: This is the second half of a two-part series on the benefits of UTM. In part one we discussed how

UTM reduced security incidents. Below, explore more of the positive effects UTM can have on an enterprise.

UTM benefit #2: Improve rollout of new security capabilities

The integrated nature of UTM systems allows organizations to use the newest major network security technologies more readily.

Over the years, unified threat management (UTM) appliances have added detection and prevention capabilities. By incorporating the latest and greatest network technologies, UTM systems make it easier and faster to deploy new network security technologies within the enterprise. A recent example is data loss prevention (DLP), which is now being added to some UTM products. For an organization that already has a UTM appliance deployed, taking advantage of additional capabilities is as simple as configuring and enabling the corresponding feature of the UTM tool. This can make deployment of network DLP and other new capabilities much faster and smoother than a similar deployment of their non-integrated counterparts, which would involve acquisition, configuration and deployment of entirely new products.

The integrated nature of UTM systems allows organizations to use the newest major network security technologies more readily. The modular nature of UTM appliances also generally allows organizations to disable those components of a UTM system that they're not quite ready to use, and to then rapidly configure and enable those components when the organization is ready to start employing them. This gives organizations a lot of flexibility in deciding when to deploy new security technologies throughout their enterprise environments.

UTM benefit #3: Reduce infrastructure, software and labor costs

In most cases, deploying and maintaining a UTM appliance is going to be considerably less expensive than deploying and maintaining its components as separate products. The cost of the software is one factor to consider, but so is the underlying infrastructure. Generally speaking, fewer appliances, servers and other hardware components will be needed for a UTM system than for several separate products because of the increased analysis efficiency that UTM can provide.

More on the benefits of UTM

UTM devices in the enterprise

Fighting spyware with UTM

Evaluating and managing UTM for network security

Using a UTM system may also result in a significant reduction in labor costs if the administrators of the UTM system have only a single interface for monitoring, managing and updating firewalls, antimalware, intrusion detection and prevention, and other network security technologies. This reduces the training burden -- not to mention the actual effort needed to check on each of the security technologies -- to monitor performance, investigate security events, apply patches and so on.

UTM benefit #4: Minimize latency

Historically speaking, one of the chief complaints about network security technologies is that they can introduce excessive latency into network communications. This can frustrate users whether the service disruptions are mild, major or severe. The effort needed to examine and analyze the network traffic is what causes this latency. Because UTM appliances significantly reduce the overhead involved in network traffic examination and analysis, they also tend to reduce latency, thus supporting better performance for network users and systems.

About the author:
Karen Scarfone is the principal consultant for Scarfone Cybersecurity in Clifton, Virginia. She provides cybersecurity publication consulting services, specializing in network and system security guidelines. Scarfone was formerly a senior computer scientist for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where she oversaw the development of system and network security publications for federal civilian agencies and the public.

This was first published in June 2014

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Essential Guide

Unified threat management devices: Understanding UTM and its vendors

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