As I look back on this past week’s RSA 2012 in San Francisco, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many enterprise and service provider customers, channel partners, analysts, media (including Fox Business News), investors, and even some of our competitors. BYOD, the transition from physical to virtual to cloud, and IPv4 moving to IPv6 networks came up over and over again.
One such customer conversation around BYOD was quoted in Network World. Nick Young, network support manager for Four Seasons Healthcare in the United Kingdom, said in his situation, “the business is telling me, ‘now I’m going to bring my iPad in, I’m the manager.’ We have to allow [it]…”.
As I shared in my keynote, the typical end user views security as cumbersome and will go to great lengths to avoid it to either do their job, enjoy their job, or be more efficient at their job. As security professionals, we‘re torn between the extremes of locking it and it down and freeing it up. Every time we push toward one of these approaches, and we begin to adopt it, something else happens. This causes us to reverse our course and implement the other. Those choices often force us in one direction or the other. In the end we can end up compromising our own efforts.
I believe what we’ve been given is a false choice. We all keep thinking it is either lock it down or free it up, but it can’t be…we need to have both. I came to Cisco because I believe we don’t have to make this compromise. Fortunately, the answer is there, and it turns out, that the answer’s been hiding in plain sight. The answer is the network.
The network is the connective tissue that binds us all. And, when it comes to security, the network can deliver the capabilities we need unlike any other part of the infrastructure. And just as the network has become the source for delivering critical voice, video and data…it too is becoming the delivery source for security.
The network tells us what’s happening, where, and all in real time across our organization and between our organizations around the world. It can see all devices, users, applications, systems, data and the interactions between and among them. The network can see and control traffic. It can provide context, which is the relationship between those devices, those applications, and those users. The network also provides secure remote access and secure wireless access.
As we all know too well, it only takes one packet to find a malicious purpose. But, fortunately, the network is our universal source of global threat awareness, visibility, context and granular control. The network allows us to eliminate that compromise that we’ve traditionally had to make between locking it down and freeing it up.
How else, would an organization (that I have come to know well) block 12 million transactions, including, 23,000 Trojan Downloader attempts, over 7,000 Trojan check-ins, 700 Worms and nearly 100 Phishing URLs in a single day? By leveraging the network and implementing contextual security capabilities, like application visibility and control, this enterprise has freed nearly a hundred thousand users to bring their own devices, and safely access thousands of applications each day.
At the end of the day, as pointed out by eWeek’s Fahmida Y. Rashid, “There should be less worry about the exact device that is being used. At the heart, every device is essentially just an IP address, so the important thing is to make the network secure”.
The network is becoming the only constant source of intelligence that we can rely on….and the control point that we can depend on, in our ever-changing world. The network is the source of power that we all need to deliver security our end users and companies are demanding. The network is the source of empowers us to say “Yes” to applications, devices, and letting our users work the way they want to and need to, but with the protection that we all require.
The network allows us all to lock it down and free it up.