Jan 07 2016

How Security as a Service Works

Managed security services offer endpoint protection while warding off email- and web-based attacks.

The cybersecurity threat environment shifts rapidly as attackers detect new product vulnerabilities and deploy increasingly effective exploit tools. Enterprises seeking to defend their networks should pay careful attention to keeping their security controls up to date. Using a Security as a Service provider is a great way to ensure that an organization’s security stays current.

Timely, Tailored Protection

Security as a Service providers offer managed security products that require no onsite hardware and minimal configuration. The entire technical infrastructure supporting the service resides in data centers owned or provisioned by the vendor. Customers simply direct the necessary data or network traffic to the provider’s solution, and the vendor takes over from there.

If the customer does configure any settings, this customization normally takes place through a web portal that hides most of the implementation details. This approach allows organizations to reap the benefits of state-of-the-art security controls without investing in the staff or hardware required to implement them.

Many Security as a Service providers offer endpoint protection solutions that remove much of the burden from an enterprise’s IT staff. These solutions provide comprehensive protection against viruses, spyware, spam, phishing attacks and other common security threats through a software agent installed on protected systems. The vendor’s central management system ensures that these agents remain updated with current threat information and provides centralized management and reporting capabilities for IT staffers.

A Solution to Email Security

Email messages pose significant security risks to organizations. Cybercriminals may easily eavesdrop on unencrypted email as messages travel around the world. Further, email messages may contain phishing attacks, malware and other risky payloads. Justifiably, security professionals often seek innovative ways to protect against email-borne risks.

Many vendors offer email Security as a Service offerings that bring sound security controls to the risky world of email. These offerings scan email and remove known threats, quarantine suspect messages, automatically encrypt sensitive information before it leaves a secure system and provide secure portals for customers and other third parties to pick up messages. Enterprises seeking to deploy cloud-based email security controls often need only to point their mail delivery records at their new provider, and the vendor does the heavy lifting.

A Scrutinizing Eye on Websites

The most common way that the bad guys compromise systems today is through the use of web-based threats. In “watering hole” attacks, malicious code is placed on commonly used websites and the perpetrators wait for victims to visit the site and unknowingly download the malicious software. Phishing attacks use decoy websites to dupe unsuspecting users into providing passwords for bank accounts, email systems and other sensitive resources.

Web Security as a Service offerings protect against these risks by extending security protection to users’ web browsers wherever they are located. All user traffic flows through the service provider, which then compares it with an up-to-the-minute list of known malicious sites. The system blocks suspicious requests and then scans the contents of approved websites for malicious code, quarantining anything dangerous before it reaches the user.

These security services are just the tip of the iceberg. Managed security service providers now offer network security services, firewall management, vulnerability scanning and many other security capabilities through cloud-based offerings. Enterprises considering upgrades or replacements of existing security controls should carefully evaluate Security as a Service providers during their selection process.

For more information on Security as a Service, read the white paper “Protection on Demand.”