The answers are surprisingly simple, and what better way to help secure your network than to make it someone else's problem? OK, ultimately it's still your problem, but the need to constantly care for and feed an appliance goes away with hosted security services. Also, you don't have to worry about resizing your appliance every few years.
Outsourcing e-mail security functions, like anti-spam, anti-phishing, and anti-malware, is as easy as pointing your MX record to the security provider. At that point, mail starts flowing through the e-mail security service provider's network, passing through the various filters and scanners, then getting passed onto your network.
If you have an appliance for additional filtering or data leakage prevention (DLP), then the mail can pass through there first before arriving to your actual mail server. Outbound e-mail can take the same, reverse path.
Similarly, outsourcing Web security services, like content filtering, anti-malware, DLP, etc., requires just a couple of changes. Hosted Web security services provide multiple options for accepting traffic from customers. They include making the change on user workstations to run through the Web security proxy and forwarding the Web traffic directly from the company's router or firewall.
And like e-mail security services, existing Web proxy appliances can usually work with hosted Web security services by inspecting the Web traffic, then passing it off to the service provider.
If you're in a seemingly sinking boat, looking for an economical way to extend your existing e-mail and Web security appliances or secure your e-mail and Web without all the expensive upfront costs of an appliance, then hosted e-mail and Web security services might just be right for you. The variety of easy connection options make evaluating services a breeze.
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.