December 19, 2014

Unified Threat Management: Strong IT Security Tools for SMBs

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In a brief discussion the other day with our partner Fortinet, we learned that they had recently received the top marks in the Gartner report on the Unified Threat Management marketplace.  Not that we were all that surprised, Fortinet has been a leading voice and vendor in IT Security since their inception.   A key reason is that small and midsize businesses face the same security threats as large enterprises but are at a distinct disadvantage in terms of being able to defend themselves, since they don’t typically have the budget to spend on security experts. What they need is technology that is simple to deploy and manage, but functional enough to thwart most security threats.

IT Security - Unified Threat Management

Unified Threat Management

That’s where unified threat management (UTM) tools come in. Typically delivered in an appliance format, UTM tools are intended to be simple to install and maintain, yet give SMBs protection against an array of security threats.

What Is Unified Threat Management

Gartner defines UTM as “multifunction network security products” used by SMBs and says at a minimum they need to provide the following functions:

  • Standard network stateful firewall functions
  • Remote access and site-to-site virtual private network (VPN) support
  • Web security gateway functionality (anti-malware, URL and content filtering)
  • Network intrusion prevention focused on blocking attacks against unpatched Windows PCs and servers

Some UTM products also contain additional functions, including email security, Web application firewalls and data loss protection capabilities. The devices need to be simple to use, so often come with a web-based management interface.  This single-pane-of-glass console (as opposed to managing multiple security products that all have separate interfaces) can greatly streamline the resources demanded of the IT team  and simplify security management.

When Unified Threat Management – UTM – Makes Sense

As faithful readers of our monthly Security Breach Roundup feature know, any company can be the subject of a security breach. And at the recent RSA Conference, more than one speaker essentially said all companies will eventually get hacked. One of them was Art Coviello, Jr., Executive Chairman of RSA. As we covered previously:

Coviello was also the first to make the point that becoming a victim of a security breach is now inevitable. Companies need to “acknowledge once and for all that our networks will be penetrated,” he said. “We should no longer be surprised by this.”

No matter how much companies harden their systems and take pains to follow best practices, all it takes is one mistake – and humans will always make mistakes. “Inevitably, attackers will pounce on these mistakes and exploit them. We shouldn’t be surprised by this either,” he said.

But we should still fight back, and UTM helps you do just that, whether your company has fewer than 100 employees or many thousands.

Choosing a UTM Provider

When choosing a UTM provider, you’ve got lots of choice, as many vendors play in the space. But only a handful are positioned in the “Leader” quadrant in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Unified Threat Management, and only one, Fortinet, is the clear leader.

Fortinet’s FortiGate line of UTM appliances exceed the Gartner definition for what a UTM appliance should offer. They are based on Fortinet’s custom ASICs, which enable the appliances to deliver superior performance, with up to 1G bps of firewall throughput. Fortinet also has its own research team, FortiGuard Labs, which continually keeps an eye out for the latest threats so it can update its appliances accordingly.

In short, Carousel works with Fortinet because these guys know security – so SMBs don’t have to.

To learn more about the FortiGate family of products, visit: Or contact Carousel and connect with our security experts to discuss your specific business case.