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1/25/2008
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Time to Implement Security as a Service?

Software as a Service (SaaS) has been gaining acceptance among small and medium businesses because it eases maintenance and deployment requirements. Having been widely implemented in areas, such as Customer Relationship Management, it is now advancing into the security market.

Software as a Service (SaaS) has been gaining acceptance among small and medium businesses because it eases maintenance and deployment requirements. Having been widely implemented in areas, such as Customer Relationship Management, it is now advancing into the security market.ScanSafe is one of the companies delivering security SaaS solutions. Its Anywhere+ service delivers Web security features, such as enforcing a companys acceptable Internet usage policies regardless of where employees may be located. Such services have a couple of appealing features. The first is inherent with any SaaS solution, simplicity. As computer software has become more complex, companies have had trouble keeping up with an unceasing barrage of updates. With SaaS, a vendor takes over that challenge.

In addition, security checks are becoming more difficult to deploy because of employees increasing mobility. A ScanSafe survey found that 95% of companies now have at least 10% of their staff who work remotely on a regular basis. Employees are now stationed at hotels, customer sites, airports, remote offices, and their homes. They never know what type of network connection may be available, and sometimes, items, such as firewalls, have to be deactivated in order for them to be able to access the Internet. Consequently, their systems become susceptible to various types of malware attacks, such as viruses and spyware. A SaaS service makes it more likely that they will have the proper security checks in place as they surf the Web.

These services do come with a few caveats. Security SaaS is an emerging area, so the first wave of customers may encounter some unexpected glitches, which are common with new software. The service offerings are not as broad as the packaged software solutions that are now available. Only a few suppliers, such as Qualys and MessageLabs, are in the market, so the vendors long term viability is an open question. However, with security challenges growing more complex each day, investigating these services is something that a small and medium business should put on its To Do list.

Are you using a SaaS service? What do you see as their benefits? How comfortable or uncomfortable would you be in deploying a security SaaS solution?

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