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A piecemeal approach to information security - added to market confusion - is resulting in companies spending too much for incomplete protection.

According to security vendor Aladdin, companies are unwittingly purchasing and managing overlapping security solutions, sending their total cost of ownership sky-high. Aladdin reckons a set of point products to tackle anti-virus, anti-spam, Web filtering, URL blocking and application filtering could be as much as three times as expensive to run as an integrated system. For 1,000 users an integrated approach would cost $48,200 against $178,000 for point products.

As a leading supplier of integrated content security appliances, under the eSafe brand, the issue Aladdin raises is a little self-serving. That doesn't mean it’s wrong though – inspecting the same piece of traffic numerous times doesn’t make much sense, as Aladdin points out. But the company draws the line of what needs to be done with a combined approach where the capabilities of its own product stop. Aladdin thinks content security functions should be performed on one device but encryption, intrusion detection and firewall functions should be done elsewhere.

"There's a thin line between doing too much and doing it right," Shimon Gruper, eSafe CTO and VP at Aladdin Knowledge Systems, told El Reg. Gruper reckons integrated appliances that do everything have substantial benefits in ease of use but aren't suited to handling more complex networks.

Panic spending leads to disintegrated security

Protection against Internet worms was a hot topic even before this week's Sasser outbreak reduced many systems to a crawl.

In response to the threat posed by earlier worms such as Blaster and Nimda, vendors have developed a number of approaches: these include internal security appliances (Check Point), Web application firewalls (Blue Coat), building intrusion protection functions into firewalls (NetScreen) and variations on the theme of host-based intrusion prevention (Cisco et al). Indeed the capacity of Windows boxes to spread network worms has created a whole sub-category in the security market.

Gruper advises companies to take a more considered approach to information security, taking a close look at how they can protect their systems instead of panic buying whatever their reseller or security consultant punts their way.

"Companies are not taking a holistic approach to security. Whenever it hurts they are adding more pieces. Because of this they often end up with an unmanageable, unintegrated system with a single point of failure," he said. ®

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