Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Suite or Best of Breed?

When choosing an enterprise security solution for your organization is it better to choose an all encompassing security suite from one vendor or select the best software in each class even if it means using a number of different vendors?

Security software tends to come in modules with each module protecting against a specific type of threat. Different types of Internet threats include:
  • Viruses, worms, Trojans
  • Spyware
  • Adware
  • Spam
Organizations such as Symantec, Trend Micro, McAfee and others offer security suites that protect against a wide range of threats. By using a security suite from one vendor your organization:
  • Reduces IT time - dealing with one vendor reduces IT time to install and maintain the software.
  • Reduces administrative time - by purchasing from one vendor, your organization reduces your number of vendors, checks produced, approvals needed, etc.
  • Reduces conflicts - in theory, by purchasing a security suite from one vendor, the vendor has tested its code and has fewer software conflicts.
There may be downsides, however, to limiting your security software to one vendor:
  • Single point of failure - should the security suite not function as designed (software expires, not licensed, bug or error in the code, etc.), your organization may be vulnerable to a wider range of threats.
  • Best of breed - by choosing a security suite, software modules from the chosen vendor may not be up to par with competing packages. For example, a security suite from a specific vendor may offer overall protection, however one component, say anti-spyware, may not offer the same level of protection as a best of breed anti-spyware software package.
Risk assessments help provide answers to questions such as "Should we purchase a security suite from one vendor or purchase security software modules from a number of different vendors?" Risk assessments identify an organization's assets, threats to the assets, vulnerabilities that exist as a result of the threats, and the resulting impact on the organization. The risk assessment helps priortize risk areas so that the organization can make an informed decision when deciding between one vendor's security suite or electing best of breed software packages from a variety of vendors.

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