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An MSPs Introduction to Unified Threat Management

Posted January 5, 2017by Lily Teplow

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Today’s threat landscape and networking environment are in constant evolution – causing new devices, applications and threats to appear almost daily. Organizations are struggling to face new cyber threats and keep up with the changing landscape. Unfortunately, the stand-alone security technologies they sought for support have become incapable of keeping them completely protected. Your clients now require a multi-layered defense strategy that integrates various technologies into one IT security solution. Until a few years ago, that type of solution didn’t exist.

Very few security technologies leap out of nowhere to occupy a major portion of the market within a few years, yet unified threat management (UTM) is one of those few. As an MSP, what exactly should you know about UTM, what does it protect against and what are its benefits?

What is Unified Threat Management?

Unified threat management is a simplified approach to security management that allows an administrator to monitor and manage a wide variety of security-related applications and infrastructure components on a single, integrated platform. Many organizations have turned to UTM solutions in order to avoid the expensive, labor-intensive approach of traditional firewalls supplemented with multiple stand-alone security technologies.

UTM consolidates a range of security features into a single appliance that is designed to protect users from a blend of sophisticated cyber threats. Typically, a UTM appliance will include several security technologies with these core features:

  • Antivirus/endpoint protection that scans for malicious programs and other types of malware.
  • Intrusion prevention that analyzes and evaluates incoming network activity for attack signatures.
  • Virtual private networking that provides secure remote access to the internal network.
  • Web/content filtering that prevents access to inappropriate Web content.
  • And finally, a next-generation firewall that sits at the heart of every UTM appliance.

What Are the Benefits of UTM?

Unified threat management delivers a flexible, future-ready solution to meet the challenges of today’s networking environments. It allows for improved security and performance while reducing network complexity and costs, which is why it’s particularly suited to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Many SMBs struggle with managing security in-house, due to the heavy burden of day-to-day management requirements and rising costs. Similarly, dealing with specialized appliances for specialized services can cause decreased integration and become very tedious to manage—creating potential blind spots in their security strategy. However, this is where partnering with a managed services provider is most beneficial. Unified threat management provides clients with a comprehensive yet simplified IT security solution. Also, it’s highly compatible with most solutions and services you might already have in your portfolio.

How Can UTM Fit Into Your Technology Stack?

Unified threat management is considered an all-in-one solution for network security, but when integrated with other managed services it allows MSPs to become a one-stop-shop for all their clients IT needs. Specifically, UTM can become most valuable when combined with remote monitoring and management (RMM), endpoint protection and backup and disaster recovery (BDR).

Since UTM solutions include features such as application control, intrusion detection and content filtering, pairing them with an RMM solution can provide more effective and higher-level network monitoring. RMM technology specializes in proactively staying ahead of issues, resolving them remotely and giving in-depth insight into client servers and desktops. Unified threat management can further support an RMM solution by providing proactive and sophisticated alerts for security incidents and 24x7x365 monitoring of a client’s entire network. Similarly, including endpoint protection with UTM and RMM adds an additional layer of security, further protecting your clients’ devices from intrusion.

The one main argument against UTM is that it could be a single point-of-failure. However, this can be combated by pairing it with a reliable BDR solution. Should a UTM appliance fail, BDR can provide additional data protection and verify that all critical information is backed up and easily recoverable. Essentially, a BDR solution acts as a safety net—ensuring you can roll back to a previous version should your clients’ files become encrypted or stolen.

Ultimately, unified threat management has become increasingly sought after because it allows for a consolidated management of security technologies that are essential to keeping today’s organizations secure and protected. In fact, the UTM market is predicted to grow almost 15 percent by 2020, so if you don’t currently provide UTM services, you may consider reevaluating your security strategy as you begin the new year. Your clients rely on your expertise and services to help them achieve an optimal IT security posture. Will you be missing out if you don’t provide unified threat management services?

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Meet Lily Teplow! After majoring in Communications and French, Lily graduated from South Carolina's Furman University and now takes on her new role as Content Marketing Associate at Continuum. In her spare time, Lily enjoys singing, traveling, and cheering on her favorite Boston sports teams!


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