Safeguard security with gateway consolidation
- — 07 March, 2012 10:23
Just like the doors to your house, your internet gateways are the one point where you can see (and decide) what comes in and out. The gateway is exposed to all sorts of security threats, from hacking attempts, to spam, phishing and viruses. It’s critical that you define clear security rules for your gateways and deploy corresponding processes to keep them up to date.
Every company has increasing numbers of employees needing to work remotely while maintaining access to corporate information and communication. It’s a security issue, one of escalating importance.
Despite the serious cyber risks, many companies and multinationals still apply a local internet access policy, with local offices individually managing access to the internet and their corporate network, as well as the security related to that access. The lack of standardised security across a company can cause serious security issues with high potential for exploitation of loopholes. The more points of contact that exist between the internet and a corporate WAN, the greater the risk of attack and impact on business operations – it can take just a few days or even hours for a hacker to exploit a known vulnerability.
It is important to be aware of your network vulnerabilities so that patches can be implemented rapidly when necessary. Such capabilities require time and skilled resources, and expert security specialists can be hard to find, as well as expensive to retain. Having local internet access points also requires hardware and software implemented at each location, with the right management systems in place. It is important to remember that the more local gateways you have the greater your initial capital expenditure, operational costs and security risk will be.
Traditional thinking dictates that there must be strict barriers between the internet and corporate intranets. Over the years, these barriers have become increasingly complex, leading to numerous perimeter loopholes and a huge variety of gateways – and so a greater potential for a loss of network control. The best way to regain control is to consolidate these gateways. Fewer gateways mean lower costs, better consistency and increased compliance with security policy. The concept of consolidating multiple gateways is simple: instead of many points of entry to the internet, only major gateways are retained. Information flows are redirected through the private corporate network to secure, highly available, consolidated internet gateways.
While this may sound simple it is vital that specialists handle the consolidation process to manage and control business risks. A thorough analysis must be undertaken to determine security risks and the associated costs. It should include assessments of IT risk, technical security and vulnerability, and a total cost analysis detailing all expenses such as hardware, software, maintenance, network capacity and staffing costs.
It’s important to realise the benefits of consolidated gateways aren’t just cost-related. By redirecting traffic over your corporate WAN, you can prioritise company internet traffic through different classes of service, ensuring continuity of service for your critical applications and/or customer traffic. You can also choose to host your web, messaging and application servers in the gateway’s demilitarised zone, a separate and protected area of the gateway. You can then (potentially) transfer administration of this area to specialists who can monitor, upgrade, troubleshoot and patch traffic around the clock, ensuring that customers and employees have access to business services at all times.
Consolidating your internet gateways reduces the number of loopholes that cybercriminals can squeeze through, increases efficiency and raises compliance with security policies. Fewer gateways mean fewer complications, reducing the need for multiple layers of security for different devices, portals and locations which can potentially conflict with each other.
Better security and performance at your gateways, lowers the risk to your business and most importantly, your customers.