Unified Threat Management (UTM) is a method or technique for providing high-end security in the information technology infrastructure. A single hardware or software installation on the device in UTM offers multiple security options, such as network firewalls, intrusion detection, gateway antivirus, web content filtering. It contrasts with the more commonly used security methods that emphasize having solutions for each problem as they approach them.
UTM provides a dynamic approach to the already standard security methods. It simplifies information security management by having a single solution for the administrator instead of managing multiple products. UTM products have been gaining more popularity day by day since 2009. This technique simplifies not only installation but also configuration, and maintenance get enhanced.
People save time and money when compared to the management of multiple resources at once. We consider UTMs next-generation firewalls.
How does UTM Work?
A UTM appliance can give users a comprehensive overview of easily managed security solutions for small and large-scale enterprises. UTM appliances use firewalls to protect their respected systems. The firewalls work as an advanced method for providing security and help in blocking the threats that may or may not occur to the system.
The UTM firewalls work in flow-based inception and proxy-based inception at their cores:
- Flow-based inception:
Flow-based inceptions collect data from servers in the UTM appliance and external sources to check if any disturbance is present in the data flow or if the problem is external. Based on the results of the tests, it determines the dangers and provides its solution.
- Proxy-based inception:
Proxy-based inception also works similarly, just like flow-based inception. Still, the significant difference between flow and proxy-based inception is that proxy-based inception is a proxy and behaves like that. It detects the data and external resources and constantly scans them for any malware present.
If any malware is present, it gets removed from the system immediately.
Types of Computer Threats and Malware:
Following are some of the most common and dangerous threats that a computer system may experience. Many of the UTM appliances deployed inside a network or a computer system experience such threats:
- Network intrusion
- DoS/DDoS attacks
- Viruses and worms
- DNS poisoning
- Adware and Spyware
When a network gets breached by intruders, a Denial of Service (DoS) attack, or a malicious virus, the entire organization becomes vulnerable. Leaving a company’s operational resources, customer data, proprietary tools and technologies, and intellectual capital in danger of being stolen misused or vandalized by third parties.
How UTM Appliances Block a Computer Virus
In today’s dynamic threat environment, with thousands of new threats released every year and worms able to propagate across the world in a few minutes, more contemporary and better ways are being developed to secure systems and computer networks. UTM appliances have also broadened their horizons to block computer viruses and ensure no internal or external threat exists.
The UTM provides two effective ways to block computer viruses successfully:
- Zero-Day Protection:
For years, signature-based solutions have been the mainstay of every network security arsenal. They use a database of known signature files to identify and block malicious traffic before it enters a network. They provide protection against threats such as trojans and buffer overflows, arbitrary execution of malicious SQL code, instant messaging, and peer-to-peer usage.
Once an exploit threat gets unleashed and identified, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks for corresponding signature files to become available for download. This security “downtime” creates a window of vulnerability during which networks are open to attack.
Security architects have recognized that this is a trend that cannot continue indefinitely. They place more focus on developing defensive techniques that are not signature-based.
- Watchguard UTM:
Watchguard unified threat management provides a practical layered approach to the computer systems designed to protect against significant attacks which are a severe threat to such systems. WatchGuard UTM appliances offer robust protection for growing enterprises, defending against both known and unknown attacks and giving maximum safety while minimizing the impact on network performance.
It has three primary layers, which are:
- Deep packet inspection
- Content security
Deep Packet Inspection:
The Deep Packet inspection level provides a complete layer seven proxy inspections of the network traffic. Traffic gets filtered before they pass it on to the additional UTM services. Several defenses get provided: Protocol Anomaly Detection–they enforce Internet standards for data traffic to detect and block non-conforming traffic and isolate threats.
Behavioral Analysis Hosts exhibiting suspicious behaviors get identified, and potential denial of service attacks get blocked. Pattern Matching – High-risk file types, viruses, or attacks get flagged and deleted before entering your network. Data flows while traffic gets scanned, and viruses, worms, spyware, trojans, and other malicious attacks get blocked proactively at the edge of your network.
The application-blocker feature helps prevent services such as AIM, Yahoo, IRC, and MSN Messenger. It protects against IM-based security threats, including exploits that allow the attacker to gain control of a machine running an IM client, and infections by viruses transferred in files over IM.
It can also block Peer-to-Peer (P2P) applications, including Napster, BitTorrent, Winny, and eDonkey2000. Peer-to-Peer presents two problems. First, it uses up valuable capacity that you can use better for business purposes. Second, it is a well-known vector for transmitting spyware.
There is also a subscription-based UTM service that provides its users with more advanced features and techniques for security. Some of the subscription-based features are:
Gateway Anti Virus:
Gateway Anti Virus identifies and blocks worms, spyware, and trojans from entering your network and executing dangerous payloads. The Gateway AV service is very efficient. It only scans files not blocked by the pattern-matching capabilities, reducing the number of files that need to get inspected. Gateway Anti Virus is complementary to existing desktop and server solutions.
Indeed, it’s a good idea to have a different antivirus vendor on the gateway vs. at the desktop to provide a second-level check.
Reputation Enabled Defence
Reputation Enabled Defence delivers a secure web browsing experience through a reputation service that scores URLs as good, bad, or unknown. URLs with terrible reputations get blocked immediately, while URLs with excellent reputations get passed through without further AV scanning for substantial gains in web processing time.
In fact, with Reputation Enabled Defence, the typical savings in web processing overhead can be 30% to 50%, resulting in faster browsing times and greater throughput at the gateway.
Traditional UTM services provide a comprehensive approach to network security and help computer systems block viruses and threats both internally and externally. These appliances use firewalls, VPNs, and proxies and are highly effective. The subscription-based services and far more advanced and are adaptive to viruses.
Such systems are highly in demand and are snowballing.