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What Is Unified Threat Management

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By: Nihad Hassan
April 13, 2021

Digital transformation is rushing to include all work aspects. Nowadays, organizations utilize digital technology to conduct most business functions. The huge dependence on it has resulted in shifting a significant part of cybercrime from the real world into what is now known as cyberspace.

In today's complex cybersecurity world, organizations of all sizes and industries had to deploy different security solutions to protect their IT assets and precious data from various threat actors. Organizations tend to use security appliances from different vendors to cover all possible entry points to their IT systems. However, utilizing different security solutions has increased maintenance overhead and resulted in many instances to fall victim to sophisticated cyberattacks that target specific vulnerabilities that existed in specific IT solutions. This makes deploying Unified Threat Management solutions a preferred choice for many organizations to reduce the hassle of managing different IT solutions produced by different vendors.

This article will define the term Unified Threat Management (UTM), explore how it relates to firewalls, and mention the benefits of using it to protect information systems.

What is Unified Threat Management?

UTM is standalone hardware or software security solution that conducts various security functions simultaneously. UTM is commonly utilized in small and medium-sized organizations that cannot afford to buy, deploy and maintain multiple security solutions to protect their network from cyberthreats.

A network, antivirus, antimalware, and IPS/IDS systems are installed separately in a traditional security setup and maybe running using multiple devices over different software platforms. By utilizing UTM, one solution is deployed that contains all these security defenses –and more- and is managed from a single console or device. This gives the IT administrator complete visibility over all network security functions and reduces the hassles of configuring and managing different security solutions from different vendors.

Standard features of UTM solutions

Commonly most UTM solutions incorporate the following general capabilities:

  1. Antivirus and antimalware solutions
  2. Web filtering
  3. Application filtering
  4. Email filtering
  5. Firewall
  6. Intrusion prevention system (IPS)
  7. Virtual Private Networking (VPN)
  8. Data loss prevention (DLP)

What is the difference between Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) and UTM?

Some people mix between the two devices; hence, they consider (NGFWs) is similar to UTM. However, this is not accurate. For instance, NGFWs is a modern advancement of traditional firewalls equipped with an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) and application intelligence capabilities. It was designed to close the gap left by typical firewalls. UTM contains a firewall capability within its functions; however, it is different from NGFWs. UTM contains antivirus on network gateways and content filtering, not offered by the second solution. This makes the UTM solution outperform NGFW systems and includes all their functions. Unified Threat Management Benefits

Simplify management

By having one solution that integrates many security functions in one appliance, there will be no need to manage and configure other ones. This will simplify security management and make it available from one console.

Improve overall security visibility

UTM provides one interface to manage all security functions of a network, making it possible to discover any weak points quickly. This allows security administrators to monitor suspicious network traffic and act promptly in case of a cyberattack. On the other hand, It gives reporting capabilities that aid organizations when preparing their compliance reports.

Stop advanced attacks

UTM integrates many security tools to recognize advanced attacks, such as combined threats that use different malware types to infiltrate a system simultaneously, making it better than scattered solutions. It utilizes several ways to recognize possible threats, which increase its ability to halt cyberattacks before it causes damage to the internal network.

Help in meeting different compliance requirements

Some types of them offer identity-based security to monitor user activities when accessing sensitive data. This allows an organization to meet regulatory compliance requirements such as HIPAA and CIPA that require strict security auditing.

Summary

UTM solutions were initially invented to meet small and medium-sized organization's security needs to have a unified solution to manage different functions. However, as UTM solutions become more mature, big organizations have adopted them too, which like the benefit of having one solution. UTM also offers a good advantage in being installed on network gateways to stop the attack before it expands to infect internal systems and data.

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