17/05/2012

By Ben Weiner, CEO, Conjungo

I think that we all pretty much agree that probably the most important element of any computer system is ‘anti-virus’ and other systems that secure our PCs and networks from malware and other malicious programmes that seek to destruct our systems and gain access to confidential data.

It wasn’t that long ago, (and let’s face it when I use a phrase such as this, in terms of the fast paced technology development cycle it really isn’t!), when upon starting your PC it would churn away as the system enabled the relevant security software. More often than not it was slow, taking up a lot of computing resource and needed to be updated regularly and then of course you would have to scan your system for any issues. Quite often you’d have to run a number of different security solutions, belt and braces to ensure that if one missed a problem another solution would hopefully resolve and deal with it.

So, we had anti-virus, anti-malware such as ‘Trojans’, Adware, anti-spyware and so forth. By the time you’d downloaded all solutions and ran them, your PC would work at a snail’s pace, you’d wait for hours as various systems scanned your PC and finally the cost was so prohibitive that you’d gone over budget.

So what is the latest offering? Well, like all SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings, any software no longer needs to reside on your PC (or at least not as much) but on a third party system. This system takes the strain rather than your PC or network. It is regularly updated, it will scan your system automatically at a time that suits you, it will pretty much deal with all security elements and issues without you having to worry about updates and of course the impact upon your network’s performance.

So it appears that most of the main producers of security software are now beginning to offer both – you can of download ant-virus/security or you can implement the SaaS version.

So what’s in it for you?

- Constant virus definition updates that are not reliant on user compliance.

- Greater security expertise than is typically available within an organisation.

- Faster user provisioning.

- Outsourcing of administrative tasks, such as log management, to save time and money and allow an organization to devote more time to its core competencies.

- A Web interface that allows in-house administration of some tasks as well as a view of the security environment and on-going activities.

(Source: Tech Target http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/Security-as-a-Service)

That said...

It’s still relatively early days for the development of these services and you need to do some research before taking a decision one way or the other. Of course as the market matures then many problems will be resolved. If you are considering SaaS for security then most of the major solution providers offer both (service or licence) so you can of course discuss your individual and organisational requirements.

I know a lot of you will not be thanking me for at the moment because I’m not able to recommend one system above the other but I’m afraid right now it’s as always, about being pragmatic. If you want to read more then I suggest the following site: http://securecloudreview.com/category/security-as-a-service/

In the meantime should you wish to read further about technology and security issues and how to resolve them, I suggest http://www.conjungo.com/technology/antivirus. It’s one of ours so it’s a darned good read!