How To Batten Down Network Security and Increase ISP Customer Satisfaction


With more than two decades of high tech leadership experience, Dr. Zhang is a co-inventor and holder of several patents in the area of computing and networkin and is president and CEO of Wedge Networks. Here, he discusses how ISPs and IT solution providers are differentiating themselves by stressing their security capabilities.— Jennifer Bosavage, editor

With the integration of the Web into daily life, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have a burgeoning responsibility to keep their networks clear of malicious content that may create operational, reputational and customer relationship management challenges. ISPs have also begun to use security as a marketing tool.

The security-as-a-service market is continuously expanding as ISPs are beginning to look at security advantages as a selling point to their customers. This new opportunity does not just protect the end users, but also increases revenue for the providers. According to Microsoft research, 1 in every 14 downloads now contains malicious content. In order to stay differentiated in a highly competitive market, ISPs must be able to manage high volumes of traffic, utilize up-to-date infrastructure, plan for future growth and maintain customer satisfaction while simultaneously providing robust network security.

Reaching the Limit of Malicious Content
With an increasing load of malicious data flowing through networks, ISPs must spend more time and money on scanning data content than ever before. An Osterman Research survey showed service providers reported more than 11 percent of their users’ accounts were actively part of a botnet used for sending out spam, with 86 percent of service providers reporting they are actively battling “zombies” (a compromised computer utilized for spamming others) in their networks. Outdated content security systems no longer maximize the potential of ISPs for customer satisfaction and are taking away potential revenue. To optimize the future of ISP networks, a more advanced and innovative data security solution is needed to keep up with changing Internet expansions and the high influx of data transfers.

What to Look for in a Security Platform
To prevent malware from degrading service levels, ISPs must stop malicious content at the source. According to the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group, 88 to 92 percent of email messages are spam. Having high-performance network based detection and efficient blocking of malware is imperative to maintaining network credibility. A thorough content inspection of inbound and outbound data is necessary to not just clear network-damaging threats such as spam and malicious email, but also is conducive to building a long-term reputation as a reliable ISP.

Home users and small businesses continue to struggle to keep up with the amount of new threats spanning across a variety of different applications. ISPs can be a proactive partner by securing customer networks from malware, preventing emerging threats and safeguarding the network from being utilized by revenue-damaging, malicious code, all while establishing safe and steadfast services.

Lastly, we all know maintaining a service provider’s network is costly. Copious amounts of time, energy and resources are spent on network configuration, managing system functions and dealing with security threats. A network content security system with an easy to manage platform can smoothly integrate with existing ISP management practices and network infrastructures, optimizing returns by decreasing operational and managerial costs.

Continuous Growth

As the demand for network security systems grows, ISPs are beginning to sell security as an advantage to customers. The security-as-a-service market will continue to expand rapidly as ISPs look to increase security beyond protecting their own infrastructure, as a marketable differentiator to customers. With the proliferation of Web access on new portals, the threat level will no doubt increase and the introduction of network security systems is assuredly welcome. Match the quickly evolving Web pace-for-pace, avoid the high-traffic complications and protect your users by maintaining a clean network from the start with a flexible, robust and scalable security platform that can adjust to zero-day threats without impacting network performance.