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Unified Threat Management (UTM): A Practical Security Toolkit

August 31, 2023

5 minutes

A hockey goalie with a blue uniform stands ready | Unified Threat Management (UTM): A Practical Security Toolkit | DOT Security

Modern day cybersecurity solutions rely on a spectrum of sophisticated technologies that are often wrapped into a single unified threat management (UTM) system. These systems work to protect your network with a multi-tiered defense tactic that makes use of multiple new-age technologies.

"If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, you will be hacked." – Richard Clarke

As cybercriminals continue mounting improved attacks from advanced technology stacks, it’s becoming more and more imperative for organizations to invest in a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

Modern cyberattacks require modern and sophisticated cybersecurity strategies. To get an idea of where your cybersecurity strategy is now, and how it can be improved, check out DOT Security’s checklist, How Covered is Your Business?

What Is Unified Threat Management (UTM)?

UTM, or unified threat management, is a centralized solution that delivers multiple security tools bundled together. Size and industry are two factors that play into the necessary security protocols for an organization. Without cybersecurity experts to guide you, though, it can be tricky to pinpoint the exact security stack that will best suit your company.

Therefore, UTM is a great approach for businesses to take who are looking to develop a more comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. UTM combines a collection of security tools that work together to safeguard the entire network.

A unified threat management system can be a piece of physical hardware in your network stack, or it can be cloud-based. Cloud-based UTM software can also scale with your business as it expands in order to meet the security needs associated with your growth.

Benefits of Using Unified Threat Management (UTM)

The average cost of downtime for a small business is around $137-$427/minute and jumps to $5,600-$9,000/minute for larger operations. These figures demonstrate just how costly it is when a cyberattack successfully takes systems offline.

This devastating cost of downtime should shed some light on how crucial a full-fledged cybersecurity strategy is and the value of a simplified UTM solution.

A UTM solution can provide your business with:

  • Flexibility: You can pick the security technologies tailored for your business’ needs. Since companies can differ in size, industry, and clientele, a unique solution created for your unique business will offer the best protection.

  • Reduced Costs: Because UTM is a unified security product, a business does not need to rely on multiple providers and solutions to create a cybersecurity package.

  • Centralized Management: A unified threat management solution can be controlled and monitored through a single console or by a single team. Therefore, visibility and transparency are both increased and responses are much more agile.

Types of Unified Threat Management (UTM) Technologies

Unified Threat Management (UTM) Technologies Table: Anti-malware, data loss prevention, application control, web content and url filtering, firewalls, virtual private network, intrusion detection system, and intrusion prevention system.

Each of the technologies of a unified threat management solution cover a different aspect of network security. Possible technologies wrapped into a UTM solution could include:

  • Anti-Malware: Malware detection and response technologies can be programmed with known malware to respond and neutralize existing threats. It also includes sandboxing. A sandbox in the computer acts like a trap, surrounding and isolating the malware. The malware can run inside the sandbox, but can't move laterally across the network or jump to different devices.

  • Data Loss Prevention: Software that classifies and monitors businesses’ confidential data or data regulated by relevant laws or rules and identifies cybersecurity compliance violations. This solution can set off alarms when there is an attempt to share classified data.

  • Application Control: A UTM device can have a whole list of allowed applications as well as a blocked list. Since some apps are created with malicious intent, or have vulnerabilities that can be exploited, application control addresses these risks.

  • Web Content and URL Filtering: This solution filters a website’s content for security violations and any hosted files that are malicious in nature. An organization can also restrict access to certain URLs entirely.

  • Firewalls: Gates set up to filter data passing between your network and the internet. A firewall can filter incoming and outgoing traffic, making sure no malware or unwanted data enters your system. Scanning outgoing traffic means it can detect malicious acts from inside a network as well.

  • VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) acts like a tunnel, encrypting activity and creating a private network over a public network. This security and privacy tool is especially useful for companies with remote workers since it adds a layer of security over unprotected or public Wi-Fi connections.

  • Intrusion Detection System: An intrusion detection system (IDS) is a tool that provides ongoing network monitoring. It analyzes data patterns that can pinpoint threats and identify them when they arise.

  • Intrusion Prevention System: An intrusion prevention system (IPS), on the other hand, is a defense protocol that can respond to a malicious threat after it has been detected. An IPS acts by reporting and blocking a threat and can be customized with selected security policies.

Each of these unique solutions works in conjunction with the others to make up a robust, multilayered and customized security program.

Bottom Line

A unified threat management solution can be the answer for small and growing businesses that can’t yet invest in a comprehensive in-house IT and cybersecurity team. It can also be a great choice for sizable cybersecurity teams that want to make sure their solutions are streamlined and work together perfectly.

With many customizable tools, UTM systems can be tailored for different industries, compliance needs, and hybrid workspaces.

Consider protecting your company and your assets with a cybersecurity solution such as a UTM that aligns with your business needs and protects sensitive data without stressing other resources.

If a UTM-based cybersecurity posture sounds like it might suit your business needs well, consider reviewing DOT Security’s checklist, How Covered is Your Business?, to gain an idea of where else your cybersecurity posture can improve.