Unified Threat Management

Safeguarding Your Digital Fortress: The Role of Unified Threat Management

8 mins read

Protecting your organization’s digital fortress is a never-ending endeavor. You must keep up with regular password updates, implement strong access control policies, and prioritize online security. A unified threat management (UTM) system is one of the key tools in this arsenal. A UTM appliance or software is a single security solution that can perform multiple functions, including antivirus, network firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention, and data loss prevention.

Endpoint Protection

Endpoint protection involves using tools and processes to secure endpoints like laptops, tablets and mobile devices that connect to a business network. When cybercriminals infiltrate these devices, they can steal sensitive information or hijack the company network to cripple operations and damage the brand. A modern endpoint security solution will include next-generation malware detection capabilities and preventative measures. An effective system will alert sysadmins of suspicious behavior or anomalies and provide an audit trail to trace unauthorized access to compromised endpoints. It should also include patch management to fix potential system vulnerabilities that could pave the way for a breach. A unified threat management system performs real-time vulnerability evaluations and endpoint detection and response (EDR). A machine learning component will analyze the patterns of the attacks it detects, determining whether a program is malicious. It will then take stringent measures to protect the vulnerable endpoint and other network devices. It is called ‘endpoint threat detection and response’ (EDR). It’s a vital piece of your cybersecurity defenses.

Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)

The primary function of DPI is to scan data packets and find threats that would otherwise slip through traditional firewall filters. Unlike stateful inspection, which only evaluates packet header information, DPI examines the content of each data packet. It can even find some attack patterns missed by stateful analysis, such as the irregular use of system utilities for virus infection or spyware. DPI also analyzes outbound network traffic, allowing organizations to set filters that prevent data exfiltration attempts by external attackers and negligent insiders. It can also aid in policy enforcement by identifying and blocking content that violates security policies, such as bandwidth hogging, protocol anomaly or copyright violations.

However, DPI may reduce network performance since it requires the firewall to analyze each packet of data in detail, which can be taxing on a firewall processor. It is important to ensure that you truly need this level of network visibility before implementing DPI in your business.

Intrusion Detection System (IDS)

An IDS device monitors the activity of a network, looking for suspicious or malicious traffic. These systems are typically able to detect and analyze the characteristics of various malware threats, including phishing attacks. An IDS solution first baselines normal network behavior by establishing what is expected (for example, bandwidth consumed, protocols and ports used, and IP addresses normally communicating with each other). Then, it compares current network traffic against this model to spot anomalies. It may be a rule-based system or, increasingly, is leveraging machine learning to identify suspicious activity. IDS solutions are placed out of band to the real-time communication path, using a SPAN port or TAP interface to capture and analyze a copy of inline traffic. It allows them to operate without sacrificing inline network performance but requires knowledgeable IT personnel to tune and understand the context of alerts to minimize false positives.

Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS)

NIDSs monitor traffic entering and exiting the network, often at data chokepoints. They look for suspicious activity and malware. They also keep records of security incidents on their own or by logging them with a security information and event management (SIEM) tool. They can be configured to detect attacks with known signatures and unknown ones. To detect unknown attacks, NIDSs use heuristics to look for a combination of characteristics that indicates possible malicious behavior.

Knowledge-based NIDSs use rules based on statistics and anomaly detection to reduce false positive alarms. They use a model of expected normal behavior, such as bandwidth, protocols, ports and device usage, to compare new events. They can also utilize a machine learning approach to analyze patterns of discontinuous system calls for anomalies. It allows them to detect new attacks and other abnormalities that may not have been seen before.

Firewall

Firewalls act as gated borders that manage incoming and outgoing web activity flow on private networks. This activity includes things like macros, remote logins and phishing attacks.

This firewall scans each incoming data packet for malicious code before allowing it to pass through the network. It gives security engineers more granular control over what types of incoming and outgoing activities they want to allow. The stateful inspection firewall keeps track of a list of existing connections and evaluates new packets against it to decide whether to allow them. This approach offers protection against a wide range of threats, but it is susceptible to denial-of-service (DoS) assaults that utilize established connections as bait.

Hardware firewalls are self-contained appliances that function as secure gateways between the public/global internet and a network’s private/local intranets. They’re also known as next-generation firewalls (NGFW). They combine multiple cyber security tasks into one solution that reduces complexity, time and cost while allowing centralized management via a single appliance.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Despite your security team’s best efforts, data breaches still happen for various reasons. The good news is that a well-thought-out backup and recovery solution can act as your safety net, preserving your digital kingdom after an attack. DLP software solutions detect and stop data leaks by monitoring for confidential or critical information that could put your organization at risk if shared outside the network. DLP technology can watch the content of email and instant messaging and protect data in motion on your corporate networks and at rest on your managed endpoint devices or cloud storage systems. Starting your DLP program by defining business requirements and identifying a subset of critical data is important. It will simplify the deployment process and allow for a more focused approach to monitoring your sensitive data.

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