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Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK

Cisco Live Milan is around the corner and I’m getting my session, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK, ready for it’s European debut.  While it’s lovely to be in the CiscoLive Distinguished Speaker Hall of Fame, putting a good presentation together hasn’t gotten any easier.  The hard questions still need to be asked:  Do I have too many slides?  Have I crossed the line between technical and boring?  Will the demos work?  Will anyone laugh at my jokes?

And perhaps most importantly for this session: does anyone read Douglas Adams any more?

Here’s why.  I borrowed the title of Douglas Adam’s iconic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for good reason.  The original Hitchhiker’s Guide follows an ordinary guy, Arthur Dent, as he is unwillingly dragged into an intra-galactic adventure, with little more than the Guide, a pint of beer and a packet of peanuts to see him through.  Faced with the vast and confusing world of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and programmability, network engineers are in a position to know exactly how Arthur Dent felt.  New buzzwords, emerging standards, an abundance of marketing slides with vague but brightly colored blobs, and a lot of talk about programming languages can be disorienting to the best of us.

Enter the Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK.

Notice that I did not call my session the Hitchhiker’s Guide to SDN.  SDN calls for more of an Encyclopedia Galactica than a Hitchhiker’s Guide, if you know what I mean.  Instead, my aim is to take a deep dive into one aspect of network programmability that network engineers can really relate to: onePK. Read More »

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Big Data in Security – Part V: Anti-Phishing in the Cloud

TRACIn the last chapter of our five part Big Data in Security series, expert Data Scientists Brennan Evans and Mahdi Namazifar join me to discuss their work on a cloud anti-phishing solution.

Phishing is a well-known historical threat. Essentially, it’s social engineering via email and it continues to be effective and potent. What is TRAC currently doing in this space to protect Cisco customers?

Brennan: One of the ways that we have traditionally confronted this threat is through third-party intelligence in the form of data feeds. The problem is that these social engineering attacks have a high time dependency. If we solely rely on feeds, we risk delivering data to our customers that may be stale so that solution isn’t terribly attractive.  This complicates another issue with common approaches with a lot of the data sources out there:  many attempt to enumerate the solution by listing compromised hosts and  in practice each vendor seems to see just a small slice of the problem space, and as I just said, oftentimes it’s too late.

We have invested a lot of time in looking at how to avoid the problem of essentially being an intelligence redistributor and instead look at the problem firsthand using our own rich data sources -- both external and internal - and really develop a system that is more flexible, timely, and robust in the types of attacks it can address.

Mahdi: In principle, we have designed and built prototypes around Cisco’s next generation phishing detection solution.  To address the requirements for both an effective and efficient phishing detection solution, our design is based on Big Data and machine learning.  The Big Data technology allows us to dig into a tremendous amount of data that we have for this problem and extract predictive signals for the phishing problem. Machine learning algorithms, on the other hand, provide the means for using the predictive signals, captured from historical data, to build mathematical models for predicting the probability of a URL or other content being phishing.

Phishing

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Guest Blog: Migrating High Density University Networks to 802.11ac

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Joe Rogers, Associate Director of Network Engineering for the University of South Florida (USF). Hear Joe speak about his experiences with next-generation wireless in high density environments on next Tuesday’s webinar:  “Migrating Enterprise Networks to 802.11ac” at 10am PST (Dec 17) (Register here)

Joe RogersJoe Rogers is the Associate Director of Network Engineering for the University of South Florida.  He is a graduate of USF’s Computer Science and Engineering program and has worked as a network engineer at USF for the past 20 years.  He is currently responsible for all aspects of USF’s network which provides connectivity to over 100k devices across three campuses.  He’s held a CCIE routing and switching certification since 1999.  When not working, he’s an avid mountain biker (if you can call it “mountain” biking when you live in Florida).

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Universities face some of the most complex design challenges in wireless networking.  Our user population is highly mobile, bandwidth-hungry, and often simultaneously using at least two wireless devices in rooms with hundreds of their classmates.  The wireless network isn’t simply a convenience to them.  It’s critical to their educational success as many of the students are taking tests or working on assignments across the network.

At the University of South Florida, we support over 20,000 concurrent wireless users on our network of over 4,000 access points.  We have more than 90,000 unique devices registered this semester.  Our biggest challenge is designing the wireless network for the device densities in our large classrooms and popular study areas.  In these locations, we often have a thousand devices in a few hundred square feet of space.

We heavily rely on band select to place as many devices as possible on 5Ghz where more channels are available.  Unfortunately many devices such as older tablets and smart phones simply don’t have an 802.11a/n radio.  So we must carefully RF engineer the environment with smaller cells to provide the necessary coverage density. Read More »

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Using the Internet for Your Enterprise WAN

Internet for your Enterprise WANYou want to do what?

Enterprise networks are special.  They require bomb-proof design, micro-second convergence and service-level agreements so good that the WAN will only be down for half a second every year scheduled six weeks ahead of time for midnight over a holiday weekend.  That’s what we’re taught from the time we’re young Network Engineers sitting on our parents’ knees.  An Enterprise network is something special they taught us.  We should never consider running our mission-critical traffic over the dirty, unreliable Internet!  Such talk would be blasphemy akin to looking for a date at a funeral.  It might work for some, but our network is special and must be treated that way.

So what is all of this talk then, coming from Cisco no less, of using Internet links to run an Enterprise-class network?  Cisco recently introduced the Intelligent WAN (IWAN) solution that promotes exactly this sort of “illicit” behavior.  So what’s changed?

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Congratulations to 2013 IEEE-SA International Award Recipient Andrew Myles

ieeeEarlier this week, the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) announced the winners of the 2013 IEEE-SA Awards to honor standards development contributions. We are pleased to announce that Andrew Myles, Engineering Technical Lead at Cisco has been awarded the IEEE 802 SA International award for his extraordinary contribution to establishing IEEE-SA as a world-class leader in standardization.  Andrew has long been involved in IEEE-SA and led a long term initiative (2005-2013) in IEEE 802 to defend and promote IEEE 802 standards globally.

We want to congratulate Andrew on this tremendous recognition. The work of Andrew and others  contributors develop and promote high quality, efficient and effective IEEE standards.  This enables the Internet and the supporting network components to be the premiere platforms for innovation and borderless commerce they are today. These standards in turn are reflected in our products and solutions for our customers.  As we develop technological innovation for our customers, in parallel, we continue to drive global standards deployment. The results are the best innovative solutions that can solve and better our customers’ network environments. Read More »

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