Cybercrime continues to pose a real threat to the growth and profitability of small and medium-sized businesses.  Some of the worst security breaches can disrupt operations for an average of seven to 10 days and in the worst case scenario, it can put a firm out of business.  To counteract this, businesses are increasingly turning to Unified Threat Management (UTM), a single security solution that provides multiple security functions at a single point on the network.

According to research by the Federation of Small Businesses, in 2014 42% of its members were victims of cybercrime in the previous 12 months, costing an average of £4000 per business.  Hackers have always targeted larger businesses, but because their security defences are usually good, they find it much easier to go after small and medium sized businesses which have no dedicated and costly security specialists.

One of the inherent benefits of adopting Unified Threat Management is the simplicity with a single purchase covering every security need.  Instead of having separate solutions for each security need, all security features – firewall, intrusion detection, anti-malware, spam and content filtering, and VPN capabilities – can be controlled and configured from a single management console.  UTMs are very effective at tackling blended threats which are combinations of different types of malware and that attacks separate parts of a company’s network simultaneously.

It is also possible to satisfy compliance and security regulation requirements for the industry or sector in which they operate. Of course this does require configuring the UTM properly in the first place, which may not be easy for the time-pressed smaller business.

Smaller companies can grow quickly and change their infrastructure regularly.  This leads to the other option of buying a UTM through a managed service provider such as Inspired Technology who can configure the solution remotely, saving you the time and hassle.

There are drawbacks of UTMs with network performance being affected if you don’t have the capacity to handle large amounts of traffic.  UTMs process and handle a hefty amount of data, and virus scans can reduce network speeds by 20 – 50%.  If you enable IPS or other security features then this can reduce speeds even further.

It’s also vital that businesses install and manage anti-virus software on employees’ computers and on servers in addition to the UTM at the internet gateway.

When buying a UTM, the recommendation is to look for an appliance with at least double the bandwidth of your existing connection, and make sure you can disable (and not be charged) the functionality you don’t need.  What’s the point in having a web application firewall when you don’t run your own web server?

A Unified Threat Management is a single point of defence which will reduce complexity and the fact that it is one integrated package, it can be installed and updated easily.  UTM solutions make dealing with a range of threats much easier which, in the end, will help your business in the long term.