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Perimeter

5/24/2010
02:54 PM
John H. Sawyer
John H. Sawyer
Commentary
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Defense-In-Depth Via Cloud Security Services

Repeat after me: defense in depth. It's an archaic concept that hasn't gone out of style. The fact is it's even more critical to enterprises now than ever before. The proliferation of Web-borne threats is making IT shops everywhere re-evaluate their security strategies to deal with malware infections happening on systems that were "locked down" and running updated antivirus.

Repeat after me: defense in depth. It's an archaic concept that hasn't gone out of style. The fact is it's even more critical to enterprises now than ever before. The proliferation of Web-borne threats is making IT shops everywhere re-evaluate their security strategies to deal with malware infections happening on systems that were "locked down" and running updated antivirus.Of course, as security professionals, we don't know like to admit that our defenses are being bypassed, but it's true. Malware authors and the criminals using malware to make money have learned to get around our defenses and use our users against us. They they don't need to own the entire system to get to the good stuff. Instead, they can infect only the user profile and hook the browser to intercept SSL-encrypted traffic.

I recently read about an organization that had most of their machines behind a Web security appliance that provided seemingly good protection against threats. What they didn't realize was just how good it was working for them until they had to move a few machines from behind the proxy to another part of the network. Within a few hours of the move, they were all infected through malicious advertisements (malvertisements) even though they had fully updated antivirus software and the users were not administrators.

Of course, not everyone can afford enterprise-class Web security appliances. There's typically significant upfront costs followed by operational costs and multi-year replacement plans and/or upgrades to handle more users and higher traffic as the needs of the enterprise change. Hosted Web security solutions can help bridge the gap between having nothing and getting just what's needed and allowing for scalability as needs change.

What I really like about hosted Web security services is the fact that they live in the cloud, making it easy for companies to evaluate services, and because they are outside of your perimeter, they can block the threats before they even get to your network. Of course, there are many other benefits like quick provisioning of new service, quick updates to a central service that doesn't require updates to all the desktops, and more.

To learn more about hosted Web security services, download the new Dark Reading Tech Center Report titled, "Hosted Web Security Services: Block Malware Before Your Border."

John H. Sawyer is a senior security engineer on the IT Security Team at the University of Florida. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and do not represent the views and opinions of the UF IT Security Team or the University of Florida. When John's not fighting flaming, malware-infested machines or performing autopsies on blitzed boxes, he can usually be found hanging with his family, bouncing a baby on one knee and balancing a laptop on the other. Special to Dark Reading.

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