Restricted budgets and information security

With the unraveling of the global financial system in 2008, analysts are confidently predicting that the real economy will experience a significant recession in 2009 and beyond. Most modern businesses rely on IT, which means that if they are to stay in business some aspects of their IT operations are non-negotiable. However, given inevitable budget scarcity, IT managers will be compelled to look much harder at how their “must-do’ operations, such as security, can be maintained with a higher degree of cost efficiency.

It’s easy to prove that information security is non-negotiable. If a business did try to do without, it’s almost guaranteed that within a few hour or days the integrity of its IT services will begin to break down.

The security of IT infrastructure is likely to be one area that a company will want to maintain, even in times of constrained finances. However, there is more than one way to implement IT security. Some approaches are less costly to deploy and can be managed more efficiently than others so stand a better chance of achieving financial sign-off.

A traditional security infrastructure incorporates multiple individual point solutions, each taking care of protecting IT infrastructure from a specific threat category. In this approach, a business has to select and buy multiple solutions, often from different vendors, and then manage their ongoing license arrangements.

The IT team has to design a network that can accommodate multiple solutions and manage the architecture over the long-term. Learning how to administer and successfully integrate solutions from multiple vendors presents a significant challenge. When a new threat appears, as it will, a new solution must be selected and deployed, adding to this complexity. The point solution approach is certain to be resource intensive and inevitably results in a high total cost of security.

An alternative security model is based on an integrated security appliance, often known as Unified Threat Management (UTM). All the applications needed to provide robust protection against all individual security risk categories are incorporated within a single appliance. The integration of appliances guarantees that all protection mechanisms work well together, straight out of the box, and there is only one administrative interface for the IT team to learn.

Additionally, when a new threat appears, the vendor of the integrated appliance will work to ensure that protection is rapidly incorporated as a software upgrade, avoiding disruption to the network architecture and allowing IT to become accustomed to the new protection in a familiar environment. The bottom line is that consolidation onto one appliance, simplification of the network and the ease of management of an integrated security appliance greatly reduce the cost of security.

No organization can afford to compromise on security but in this business climate no organization can be complacent in how much security is costing them. Now is the time that integrated security appliances will shine and show their true value.

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