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South of Several Borders

Let me tell you a little about a country I’d not been to before until recently: Chile. Beyond its abundant natural resources and terrific terroir for wine grapes, Chile has become a hub for banking and retail companies with operations that span Latin America. Through the continued growth of business and the Chilean public sector and government leadership going through a period of change, Chile continues to adopt cutting edge technology to become more connected. In short, Chile is quite amazing.

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Attending Cisco Live 2014? Nine Internet of Things (IoT) solution demos you must see!

If you are like many attendees visiting Cisco Live US 2014 this year, you’ve probably experienced at least one or more power failures that significantly impacted the quality of your life and work lasting for days or weeks.  We frequently read about the impacts of power failures, but unless you work in the utility industry you probably have never heard in detail about why and how problems occur and what can be done to prevent them.

Utility Substation

Thermal Pattern of Utility Substation indicating a problem, Photo courtesy of Brady Inspections, Inc.

According to industry subject matter expert, James Brady, Level III Certified Infrared Thermographer, Brady Infrared Inspections, Inc., the applications of infrared/thermography can help to easily identify and solve many problems in 1) power plants, 2) substations, and 3) transmission and distribution equipment that can prevent outages, improve safety, security and reliability of services while also helping to prevent injuries to utility workers and citizens.

While most utility companies have active maintenance programs to conduct inspections of transformers, switches, oil-filled tank equipment including breakers, voltage regulators, lightning arrestors, feeder lines, get-a-way poles and other equipment, they frequently do this only periodically, not continuously across all their operations since they do not have the resources, expertise or tools.  Today this is changing even more rapidly as new technologies such as infrared are allowing for greater situational awareness. As James Brady points out in his article Infrared Inspection of Electric Utility Equipment: Documenting Common and Not-So-Common Thermal Exceptions, “the bottom line is infrared is a powerful tool that can identify problems quickly, accurately, and safely in the electrical utility industry.”

A Warm Utility Pole Lighting Resistor

A Warm Utility Pole Lighting Resistor, Photo courtesy of Brady Inspections, Inc.

Using infrared is a great example of a technology that can be enabled in sensors such as thermal cameras, to help utilities more effectively identify, detect and prevent problems.  Imagine if utilities could more easily harness the power of infrared technology across their operations. This is the opportunity of what is possible with the Internet of Things (IoT) and why so many IT and operational technology industries are excited about the benefits that are available.

So, today, what do you think most detracts utilities, or any business with similar operational needs, from deploying new technologies such as infrared more pervasively to optimize the utilization of their assets?

A) Lack of expertise?
B) The cost of deploying the technology economically everywhere it is needed?
C) The shortage of and abilities of people to make decisions quickly enough?
D) All of the above?

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Spam Hits Three Year High-Water Mark

Takedowns of prolific spam botnets, such as Rustock in 2011 and Grum in 2012, had a substantial effect on reducing overall global spam volumes. This, combined with diminishing returns for spammers sending via bots, had left many email recipients basking in the comfort of (mostly) clean inboxes. No doubt this downward trend in global spam volumes also saved countless dollars that would have otherwise been frittered away on phony university degrees, suspect weight loss products, and erectile dysfunction medication.

Unfortunately, however, the good times seem to be coming to an end. Spam volumes have increased to the point that spam is now at its highest level since late 2010. Below is the graph of global spam volume as reported by Cisco SenderBase. From June 2013 to January 2014, spam was averaging between 50-100 billion messages per month, but as of March 2014 volumes were peaking above 200 billion messages per month--more than a 2X increase above normal.

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Lighting up Cisco’s Packet Optical Network Conference

leonard_lunaBy Leonard Luna, Senior Marketing Manager, Cisco Service Provider Solutions

Timing is everything.  Faced with the ever-increasing challenges and opportunities of the Internet of Everything (IoE), the timing of Cisco’s Spring Packet Optical Networking Conference, May 13-15 at the Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose, couldn’t be better.

Fondly referred to as the PONC (‘pon-see’), Cisco coordinates this event with its customers and prospects twice a year: a Spring event in North America, and a Fall event in Monza Italy.  Besides being an immensely influential source of customer input and feedback for Cisco, the conference’s is designed to foster collaboration among attendees -- often highlighted by compelling customer presentation and/or panels discussions by luminaries from the world’s leading ISP, OTT and ILEC organizations.  This year will be no different, and we look forward to you helping us Light up our Spring event.

Bill Gartner, Vice President and General Manager, Cisco High End Routing and Optical Business Unit, provides a PONC overview and invites you to participate.

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Sensitive Data Exfiltration and the Insider

The Insider Lifecycle

Traditional security is designed to keep outsiders from getting in. What happens when the enemy is an insider? A new paradigm must be explored, where the focus needs to shift inward and how data is going outbound.

Identifying anomalies in data exfiltration is critical to how to spot the insider. The insider has a typical lifecycle:

1. Identify places where sensitive data is store
2. Retrieve the data from the location
3. Move the data within the organization to prepare for exfiltration
4. Transfer the data outside the organization

Arguably, the weak points of this chain of events occur in steps 1, 2, and 4, where the insider must go through funnel points—near the data and at a public outbound connection.

Things to Look For

In almost all cases of data theft, the insider had access to the data, but in many cases, the insider’s role would have been suspect when considering the data they were accessing. Consequently, role should be examined for the end user in the context of data they are accessing.

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