Level 3 Communications

Chris Richter

Security in the cloud: Lower costs, better protection

The cybersecurity industry is always trying to cope with threat proliferation, which accounts for the escalating cost of protecting networks. It’s no easy task since hackers are unrelenting when it comes to conjuring up new ways to break into networks to steal data.

One way the industry is working to control costs is by moving security upstream to the network in the cloud. All-in-one solutions that used to be delivered as physical appliances are now being deployed in cloud environments. This trend offers corporate security professionals a way to keep cost and management complexity down while making it easier to manage all the layers necessary to safeguard today’s enterprises.

Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliances deployed as virtual machines in the cloud bring into a single solution the protections that otherwise require the implementation of multiple applications and systems. With UTM, you get firewall, endpoint security, web filtering, application controls, gateway antivirus, anti-spam and other features essential to protecting networks.

Budget Controls

Why should a corporate chief information security officer (CISO) consider leveraging a cloud-based virtual security appliance instead of sticking with traditional practices?

The reasons are varied and compelling, but cost and management rise to the top of the list. As security costs escalate, CISOs often find themselves at odds with CIOs — who in most cases are their bosses — when divvying up the IT budget. While some companies have started to separate security from IT for budgetary purposes, that isn’t the case for most.

To get around this issue, CISOs can tap a managed services security provider (MSSP) that uses a virtualized all-in-one security solution to remotely manage the organization’s overall security infrastructure. From a budgetary standpoint, this brings predictability into security costs — you pay a monthly fee for the service. The provider handles day-to-day management and updates the security infrastructure as needed to keep up with technology advances and the changing threat landscape.

This approach also spares a company the cost and effort of recruiting, hiring and retaining qualified personnel with the know-how to run the security infrastructure and an understanding of the threat landscape. In 2016, the average salary for a qualified cybersecurity software  engineer was $233,333, and that’s without figuring in the costs of recruitment and benefits. Therefore, a cybersecurity staff can get pretty expensive.

Improved Protection

Aside from cost, another issue that traditionally has plagued security deployments is the challenge of managing all of the components. Security infrastructure sprawl, in parallel with that of the overall IT environment, often leads to silos, with different solutions and system versions being used for different locations and departments.

Of course, the more challenging it is to manage the security infrastructure and keep it up to date, the more likely it is to result in vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit. So, by taking advantage of security in the cloud, organizations can solve the problem of a complex, siloed infrastructure.

As a result, you will enjoy greater efficiency and better security because you’re eliminating the complexity that causes increased vulnerability.

Long-Term Strategy

Any corporate security professional investigating options to reduce costs while optimizing protection needs to consider a migration to a cloud-based UTM solution managed by an MSSP with global reach that specializes in cloud and network security. This is the direction the security industry is taking and, as such, is the way of the future.

With that in mind, security professionals should start planning a road map to this approach as a long-term strategy. When you take the budgetary and management benefits into account, it is to your benefit to at least consider this model — not just for the good of your company, but also to protect and preserve your position within the organization.