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Is It Time To Offload IT Gateway Security To A Cloud?

In 2008, Gartner research reported that 16,000,000 unique pieces of malware were cycling over the Internet. The Gartner estimate for 2009 was that the malware population would double. The report came at a time when Web 2.0 collaboration was (and is) allowing many different people to blog on  social networks and even highly trusted Websites, so that neither the Websites/social networks nor the companies whose employees access these Websites or social networks know for sure if the source  of information is safe.

Managing the security risks that multiply with technologies like Web 2.0 comes at a time when Gartner estimates that less than 30 percent of organizations have devised or implemented effective malware-fighting strategies.

"The impact of Web 2.0 on malware control is significant because browsers are now becoming much more complicated and powerful," said Peter Firstbrook, Secure Business Enablement Research Director for Gartner. "There are all kinds of browser plug-ins like Flash and Adobe. On top of this, there has been a shift to more content services like Twitter and wikis. There are so many more channels for people to link into data, and you can't always rely on a host domain to ensure that malware isn't being passed to your corporate networks."

A case in point is May 21, 2009, when Gartner reported that 500,000 Websites were infected with malware in a single day, including 75 percent of Websites that enterprises would normally consider to be reputable. "It is clear that the traditional "blacklist" environment, where you simply block certain URLs  and AV (anti-virus) signatures, can't keep up with this  kind of activity," said Firstbrook.      

At the other end of the spectrum are organizations that go so far with their security measures that their workforces can no longer access Websites that are relevant to their daily work. "We have three dedicated proxy servers for URL filtering," said Bart Louwagie, Director of IT for Ulster-Greene ARC, which provides programs for individuals with disabilities and has 35 distributed locations.  "Because we deal with health insurance, we were also having to backhaul Web-based communications through a VPN (virtual private network)."

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