Securing the residence – A new service provider business model?

There's been a lot of focus on security in today's ever-changing world. While most of this focus has been on enterprise applications that secure business content, the residential marketplace has been virtually primarily overlooked. What happens to the "Joe Websurfers" of the world who don't even know where to begin when it comes to security? They appear to be left out in the cold.

There's been a lot of focus on security in today's ever-changing world. While most of this focus has been on enterprise applications that secure business content, the residential marketplace has been virtually primarily overlooked. What happens to the "Joe Websurfers" of the world who don't even know where to begin when it comes to security? They appear to be left out in the cold.

Are they really interested?

So let's start with the market need. Do the "Joe Websurfers" of the world even have an interest in security for their home computer environment? Parks Associates asked 10,000 households this question in a broadband research study aimed at the residential marketplace. The users were already accessing the Internet via broadband or narrowband solutions. In this study, firewall, virus protection and content filtering were the main topics of review related to security options. The study looked at not only the need for such services in the residential marketplace, but the willingness to purchase such services from a service provider in a network-enabled fashion.

Virus protection was at the top of the list for the services listed above, followed by firewalls and content filtering. Within these categories, 78% of the respondents were interested in network-based virus protection services, 71% in network-based firewall services and 29% in network-based content filtering services. The content filtering result is not surprising, as this service would really be aimed at families with small children accessing the Internet.

So what's a service provider to do?

Offer network-based security solutions to the residential market! This would be a logical addition to existing broadband offerings, and allow for additional revenue to be driven out of the broadband infrastructure. Potentially, new customers previously concerned about security risks associated with broadband always-on connectivity may then feel comfortable purchasing broadband services.

There are some key benefits of network-based security solutions that service providers can focus on during the sales process:

•  Virus scanning in the cloud stops infected e-mails prior to reaching the customer's PC, reducing possibilities for inadvertent activation. Firewall functionality at the service provider's edge limits unwanted traffic from having the opportunity to access a user's personal data through backdoor vulnerabilities in the user's PC. Content filtering databases which are maintained in the service provider's central databases can be more easily updated, managed and enhanced based on input from multiple users.

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How does a service provider move forward?

There are certainly many players in today's market who have equipment that can allow a service provider to enable the functionality discussed above. Sandvine is a company worthy of a look in this category. Their strategy is to deploy a low cost device close to the edge to allow for dynamic traffic identification and a more powerful device in the core for statistical multiplexing. In addition to the new revenue opportunities enabled via network-based services, there may also be opportunities for operational savings. This would come via the use of intelligent traffic shaping and the ability for better peer-to-peer traffic management.

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