Unified Threat Management Firewall
What is Unified Threat Management?
Unified Threat Management is the name for an emerging trend in the firewall appliance security market. You might say that Unified Threat Management is the evolution of the traditional Firewall into a Swiss Army product that not only guards against intrusion but performs content filtering , spam filtering, intrusion detection and anti virus duties traditionally handled by multiple systems.
When hackers were the primary focus of the IT Enterprise, a good solid firewall was sufficient to protect a network. Then as viruses became more prevalent we installed Anti Virus Gateways that scanned for viruses and soon web content filtering and then spam filtering. This resulted in a mess of systems that were costly to administer and consumed valuable rack space.
As the hardware that powered today's enterprise firewalls became more robust it became viable to add these off box functions right into the firewall. Firewalls became "Firewall Appliances". This is where Unified Threat Management comes in. Rather than administer multiple systems that handle Anti Virus, Content Filtering, Intrusion Detection and Spam Filtering, companies can purchase a Unified Threat Management Firewall Appliance that integrates all of the above into a single rack mountable network appliance. The greater functionality that the Unified Threat Management Firewall Appliance provides can be the justification for the replacement of older more basic Firewalls in favor of a Unified Threat Management firewall appliance that does it all.
What is a Firewall Appliance?
A Firewall Appliance is ideally a black box piece of networking hardware. You buy a Firewall Appliance, rack it, and power it on. All software running the firewall appliance is preloaded and works with minimal configuration.
The form factor of Firewall Appliances is getting smaller as well. We recently brought a Secure Computing G2 Firewall Appliance to a sales conference held in a hotel. The hotel provided a connection to the internet and we used the G2 Firewall Appliance to provide a site to site VPN bringing our corporate network to the sales conference. Previously we had to deal with multiple client based VPN tunnels which demanded more from our support services. Using the small form factor Firewall Appliance made our corporate network flexible and portable when we had 1/2 of our employees off site.
Unified Threat Management Firewall Appliance Vendors
Right now the Unified Threat Management firewall appliance market is rather young with only a few leaders. Other producers of the basic firewall appliance will likely join the bandwagon as companies begin replacing their less functional firewalls with full blown Unified Threat Management firewall appliances.
The leaders in the Unified Threat Management Firewall Appliance space are:
Secure Computing Corporation with their SideWinder G2 Firewall Appliance. The G2 performs Enterprise firewall appliance duties as well as Anti Virus by Sophos, SPAM Filtering by Cloud Mark, Strong Authentication with their SafeWord product and Content Filtering with their SmartFilter product.
Symantec with their Gateway Security Enterprise 5400 Firewall Appliance does Anti Virus by Symantec, SPAM filtering and Content Filtering.
Fortinet with an ASIC chip accelerated Anti Virus Firewall Appliance that also does SPAM filtering and Content Filtering.
LokTek with their AIRlok Firewall Appliance line provides Anti Virus, Content Filtering, Intrusion Detection and other typical networking services
Unified Threat Management Firewall Appliances Create SOX Sarbanes Oxley Compliance
One of the key aspects in Sarbanes Oxley ( SOX ) Section 404 audits of internal controls is proving you have proper controls in place. IT Controls can be as simple as anti virus anti spam and content filtering or as complicated as providing reports of who accessed what data and when. Today's Unified Threat Management Firewall Appliances not only provide the controls necessary for Sarbanes Oxley Section 404 but prove this with excellent reporting tools. This will make your life easy when the SOX audits begin.
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