A UTM firewall has several functions that ensure your network stays secure from various cyber threats. These tools include network intrusion prevention, gateway anti-spam, a VPN service, and load balancing. These hardware-based tools can prevent malware, phishing attacks, and other cybersecurity threats from entering your network. However, some organizations need more technical expertise to handle these advanced security tools.
Rather than having multiple hardware or software appliances for each network security function, you can deploy one all-in-one UTM solution offering various security features. These include Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems, Antivirus, Malware Protection, Web Filtering, Data Loss Prevention, and essential firewall functions. This unified threat management approach reduces the hardware and staff resources needed to maintain a security infrastructure, reducing costs and simplifying administration. It also improves the detection of incoming threats by consolidating different security functions in a single centralized framework, compared to single-function technologies that operate in isolation.
Another benefit of a UTM firewall is that it can quickly adapt to new threats as they emerge. This flexibility is essential because cybercriminals have proven highly innovative, often creating blended attacks utilizing multiple malware types and attack methods. Additionally, a unified threat management (UTM) solution that supports centralized management of access controls based on identity helps to simplify compliance for small and medium enterprises with industry regulations like PCI DSS and HIPAA.
A UTM device goes beyond merely scanning a network’s incoming and outgoing data. It also works on practical algorithms and security modules that detect & alarm all threats & attack signals in advance to minimize any harm they may cause the network. It also provides content filtering & moderation capabilities to block unwanted content that may lead to violence, crime, or child safety issues on the network. This feature helps boost employee productivity & reduces the risk of them accidentally stumbling upon harmful sites.
Many UTM firewalls use heuristic analysis to spot malware that bypasses signature-based detection systems by looking at the behavior of files, not just their contents. This way, new files can be blocked from entering the system in case they are malicious. The good thing about UTM firewalls is that they combine multiple network security features into a single tool, making them easier to handle for IT admins. It also makes them affordable for small businesses or other SMBs that need help to hire expensive IT talent.
Real-time monitoring allows companies to notice suspicious activity and minimize breaches or their impact. For example, if a company sees an unexpected increase in bandwidth usage or sudden high demand for DNS requests, it can quickly address the problem. It can save money by reducing infrastructure costs or helping the business respond to a customer complaint efficiently. Typically, real-time security monitoring includes several different functions:
- Acquiring log data from network devices.
- Identifying critical events and alerting users.
- Performing correlation on collected data to identify anomalies and attack patterns.
- Delivering alerts and reports.
- Conducting forensic analysis.
These activities are sometimes called security information and event management (SIEM). UTM devices integrate these features into a single appliance, allowing users to monitor their entire network from a single interface. It helps them avoid the cost of purchasing and managing multiple network security devices that require specialized skills, knowledge, and ongoing maintenance and support. It also makes it easier for companies to meet compliance requirements because they can manage security features with a unified framework.
Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
DPI is an advanced form of packet sniffing that examines the contents of data packets instead of merely looking at the packet header. It allows for enhanced application visibility, which enables organizations to throttle access to or block applications that aren’t allowed by the company. It also helps to detect threats that can be hidden in the data. A standard method of implementing DPI is with an intrusion prevention system (IPS). An intrusion prevention system (IPS) can match a pattern or signature to a database of known attacks to compare a data packet’s contents. It can be effective if the threat database is regularly updated, but it can also miss new attacks that have yet to be reported.
Another method of implementing DPI is through flow-based inspection. Flow-based inspection samples the content of each packet that passes into and out of a network security device, such as a firewall or an IPS. It enables the device to identify suspicious traffic patterns, such as those characteristic of DDoS attacks or ransomware. In such cases, the device can quickly remove the threats and prevent them from harming network resources and endpoints.
As threats evolve, security solutions need to adapt. UTM firewalls can automatically update and add security functions without requiring the deployment of new appliances. It increases security flexibility and minimizes the impact on network performance. Unlike traditional stateful appliance approaches focusing on protecting the perimeter and shielding traffic, new-school prevention goes upstream of threats by monitoring devices, software, and users. This approach makes it harder for cybercriminals to find open ports and listening services that can be exploited. It also ensures that even if attackers make it into your network, they won’t be able to access valuable data or steal intellectual property.
In addition to reducing the likelihood of malicious files entering your network, UTM firewalls offer file-blocking functionality that prevents users from downloading unneeded files. It helps reduce the risk of phishing attacks that use executable files. This feature can be combined with User-ID policies to prevent users from downloading dangerous files that are known to hide malware. It can help you to meet the security requirements of compliance regulations like PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR.