Sales: 011 262 3632
Support: 011 262 3632

Protecting corporate communications infrastructure through the cloud

"It's a full-time job that requires 24/7 support and maintenance. Few organisations have the resources and know-how to deal with threats on an ongoing basis," Hasson says.

That's where cloud computing comes to the fore. In a cloud computing scenario, real-time, scalable resources are provided as a service over the Internet, to users who need not have knowledge of, expertise in or control over the technology infrastructure that supports them.

However, the benefits of securing the network over the cloud go further.

Hasson points out that a high proportion of the attacks on corporate networks are launched via the e-mail system, usually in the form of spam or unwanted e-mail.

"The cost to businesses of unwanted e-mail - of both the 'harmless' and malicious variety - can be enormous in terms of network performance degradation and wasted bandwidth. In the cloud scenario, the threat is removed before it even reaches the organisation's network," he explains.

A recent analysis of a major South African-based corporate's e-mails over a three-week period conducted by SYNAQ revealed just how costly spam can be.

During the study period, SYNAQ processed some 260GB of mail - or around 53 million e-mails - that was destined for the corporate's network.

Only 822 000 (1.5%) were "legitimate" e-mails.

Of the remainder, 850 000 (1.6%) carried malicious viruses and 51.4 million (96.9%) were spam.

It was calculated that the amount of additional bandwidth that the corporate needed to accommodate the spam so that it didn't impact negatively on network performance would cost in the region of R30 000 per month.

"Of course, a concerted spam attack could bring the entire network down either through the introduction of a malicious virus, or simply by overloading the system to the extent that it collapses," he adds.

The fact that the cloud effectively shields visibility of the corporate's infrastructure from the attacker is also extremely important. In conventional perimeter security scenario, the anti-virus or anti spam applications are located at the edge of the corporate's own mail infrastructure. Attackers can therefore monitor the peripheral for exploitable vulnerabilities, which often result from configuration problems.

"By going the cloud route, attackers have visibility only of the service provider's infrastructure - and because security is the provider's core business, protective mechanisms are likely to be far more current and sophisticated," Hasson says and points out that in a multi-branch, dispersed network environment, even the smallest, remotest office receives the same high level of protection.

Finally, security via the cloud comes at a predictable cost to the organisation. There's no need to suddenly scale up infrastructure to deal with an anticipated threat or sustained attack.

"If left unchecked, the cost of spam would increase exponentially. There's no sign of a slowdown in the distribution of unsolicited bulk e-mails, while spammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in bypassing anti-spam filters. Organisations can try and fight this on their own, or they can harness the benefits advances in cloud computing allow," he concludes.