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1/17/2009
08:02 AM
Randy George
Randy George
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5 Ways To Stretch Your 2009 Security Budget

The economy stinks, and as usual, IT is under more pressure than ever to do more with less. While budgets shrink, the complexity of keeping your data safe grows. With some creativity, you can do more with what you have, or in some cases, add necessary new capabilities on the cheap. Here are some of my ideas on where to start.

The economy stinks, and as usual, IT is under more pressure than ever to do more with less. While budgets shrink, the complexity of keeping your data safe grows. With some creativity, you can do more with what you have, or in some cases, add necessary new capabilities on the cheap. Here are some of my ideas on where to start.As CFO's put more pressure on you to spend on projects that directly impact revenue generation, traditional capital investments in network infrastructure and security will certainly suffer during FY 2009. But in much the same way we all need to be on the lookout for bargains on the home front in this environment, Enterprise IT can find good deals with "Good Enough" capabilities for pennies on the dollar when compared with brand names.

Here's 5 ways to do more with what you have or add new capabilities to your security mix on the cheap.

1) Network Behavioral Analysis: NBA Tools are gaining traction as a way to detect and prevent malicious activity as a result of viruses, malware, and hacks. In addition, behavioral tools are particularly useful for gathering analytics about on how various applications are performing, and as such, are more often becoming a must-have diagnostic tool for troubleshooting performance problems. Unfortunately, high-end NBA tools can be expensive, and smaller shops frankly don't need all of the features that come with large enterprise offerings.

Luckily, the small- and medium-sized business can do quite a bit of troubleshooting and information gathering with a simple NetFlow sensor. Most L2/L3 switches and routers sold today support sending detailed packet information via NetFlow, sFlow, or JFlow to a flow collector for analysis. While I'm not endorsing any particular product, here are a few value-oriented tools that can do the job for short money. PacketTrap's Perspective - $1,495 http://www.packettrap.com/product/index.aspx PTRG Network Monitor - $295 for 100 sensors http://www.paessler.com/netflow_monitoring SolarWinds Network Engineers Toolset - $1,395 http://www.solarwinds.com

2) Use your spam filter more pervasively for data loss and PCI/HIPAA compliance. Increasingly, enterprise spam appliances are incorporating better content awareness into their products. If you're worried about PCI or HIPAA compliance via e-mail, ask your vendor if it supports policy-based filtering when credit card or Social Security data is passed through your mail gateway unencrypted. You might be surprised to learn it already does.

3) Use your firewall to its fullest capabilities: There are plenty of folks out there shopping for expensive malware prevention tools, but before you open your wallet, look inward. If you own a Check Point firewall, for example, are you subscribing to SmartDefense and using it to its fullest capabilities? You may find that you can do quite a bit more with your gateway defenses than you originally thought. Instead of buying another appliance, check with your firewall vendor to see whether or not your existing investment can be extended with inexpensive software upgrades.

4) Running virus protection directly on your Exchange server. This one perplexes me. I'm amazed at how many people are still running GroupShield and GFI-like products directly on their mailbox servers. Many enterprise spam filters utilize multiple virus scanning engines for redundancy, so why pile on another bloated layer of overhead onto one of your most important servers? If you're an SME with 50 mailboxes, fine, but otherwise, save the licensing and annual maintenance fees for other projects.

5) Data Loss Protection: The DLP space is heating up, and I'm getting the lab ready to kick off a comprehensive Rolling Review on the leading products in this area now. On the surface, DLP promises to redefine the way that we protect our most critical asset, our data. Of course, few have the need, or budget, to implement DLP on a grand scale next year. For SME's, you can get a leg up by maximizing the protection that your gateway tools afford you, while using a combination of cheaper endpoint protection tools in tandem with your existing virus protection, e-mail filter, firewall, NAC/NAP/NBA or SEIM tools.

How are you getting creative with your limited budget for next year? Reply to the community here and share your ideas!

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