What ACI has done is backed off from all the network complexity in trying to build more and more intelligence directly in the fabric. Building the network to be externally automated can centralize the intelligence and control, while simplifying the design and operations of the fabric greatly (also a goal of SDN, by the way). But what’s really new about ACI is that the programmability and orchestration of the infrastructure (how it takes the orders) is now done in a business-relevant policy language/model.
In a pre-launch post, I looked at why application policies were an ideal model to build infrastructure automation around, and how application policies are better suited to mirror business objectives and requirements than traditional IT infrastructure policies. The fact is that applications are the brains of the business and best reflect the activity and dynamic requirements of the business. Application policies are inherently business-relevant. The key benefits for customers end up being vastly greater degrees of automation, process improvement and business agility. [Note: It will be left as an exercise for the reader to prove that OpenFlow, e.g., is not a business-oriented policy language.]
My company is in the very early stages of an MDM BYOD project. As part of that we are looking at the Cisco Identity Service Engine (ISE) as a central piece. I am about half way through my testing and I thought that I would pass on some of what I have learned so far. I am far from being an ISE expert and I don’t mention profiling or the advanced features in this post. I have tried them but don’t feel knowledgeable enough to go into these details.
ISE is an excellent NAC system but it does much more than that. One of the advantages of trying to configure a new piece of technology yourself is that you learn much more and also other ways to increase the ROI. The main reason we are interested in ISE is as the enforcement point on our wireless network. When a device tries to connect to our BYOD network we want ISE to query the MDM server to verify if the device is registered and if not to redirect the device to the MDM provisioning portal. If the device is registered with MDM ISE will then query AD and verify the user credentials. This is a core function of ISE and went fairly well. Read More »
We have detected evidence of a malware distribution campaign using messages masquerading as UPS delivery notification emails. These campaigns attempt to deceive the targets into thinking they are receiving mail from a trusted sender in order to dupe the recipient into installing malware, possibly for financial gain. Once the initial attack vector is installed, further malware may be distributed.
This appears to be part of the same campaign seen by MalwareMustDie (http://pastebin.com/n244xN32) and uses the email subject “UPS Delivery Notification Tracking Number”. We have seen a limited number of customers receiving this spam starting yesterday (Tue Nov 5), suggesting that this is a fairly low volume campaign (at the moment). The message contains an attachment with a filename such as “invoiceU6GCMXGLL2O0N7QYDZ” and extension .txt or .doc which is a disguised rtf file.
Section of the mail attachment containing rtf objocx tag
According to our analysis the malware attempts to download additional files by exploiting CVE-2012-0158 affecting old versions of Microsoft Office, which is detected by Cisco IPS signature 1131 and is available as a Metasploit module. In this case the malware being distributed seems to be a form of ransomware. Ransomware typically encrypts files on an infected machine and requires the user to pay for the release of their data. This particular piece of ransomware appears to be distinct from the samples we have been seeing as part of the Cryptolocker campaign, but comes in the wake of increased interest and discussion of this kind of attack.
Attached malware making a request to the control server at 126.96.36.199
As ever, users should remain vigilant when opening email links and attachments, and be wary of a message purporting to be an automated order confirmation from a company such as FedEx and UPS, as this is a common tactic which has also been identified as a possible method for distributing Cryptolocker.
What if your biggest challenge in learning math was that you could not understand the words that the teacher used to convey math concepts? That the language in the math book was not your first language? Or that your learning disability involved difficulties with words and reading?
Dr. Matthew Peterson, co-founder and COO of MIND Research Institute, knows what that’s like. He is dyslexic. But after completing an undergraduate triple major and a Ph.D. in visual neuroscience, he decided to try to figure out a way to teach math that minimizes the use of words, but maximizes student understanding and achievement.
Dr. Peterson’s stunning innovation is called ST Math, a web-based, self-paced software program that uses language-free animation to help students grasp key math concepts. This resource is offered to students in addition to regular classroom instruction, twice a week.
It turns out that all students, regardless of language or culture of origin, gender, and in some cases even learning disability, do far better at math when they have additional help from solving the ST Math exercises.
As we outlined in an earlier blog post, Cisco’s initial expansion support for ST Math in Silicon Valley and in Arizona has shown strong student performance gains of double to triple growth in math proficiency. Our newly supported 22-school Virginia ST Math pilot sought to replicate these successful outcomes.
I recently wrote a blog discussing the Value of Medianet in which I listed the benefits and associated costs of adoption. Remember that in simple terms Medianet enables a granular QoS policy and also provides a systematic approach for video troubleshooting. In this article I’m going to provide an example of Medianet in action as it has been my experience that most people, at least initially, struggle to visualize the impact Medianet has on the day to day operations of a Cisco collaboration solution running over a Cisco networking infrastructure.
In my previous blog I said that “Medianet reduces operational support costs.” I’m now going to attempt to show you how.
The first thing we can enable is edge monitoring, which allows the IT team to centrally check upon the health on any given endpoint and also ascertain its call status. Take a look at this video below:
As useful as it is, end point monitoring is only of limited benefit when problems start to occur. Electronic confirmation of what impacted end users are seeing is not what is actually required. We need a way to proactively troubleshoot issues as soon as they appear. The combination of Medianet enabled applications communicating with a Medianet enabled network, which is overseen by an intelligent management application is the means by which Cisco provides this. Read More »