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Three Transitions Driving Net-Centric Security

When I think about IT security, I don’t immediately start thinking about threats, hackers and countermeasures, but begin with what is happening to IT in general. Right now, the three big megatrends in IT can be summed up in three words: virtualization, collaboration, and mobility. Unfortunately, it’s become something of a Newtonian principle that any action driving information technology forward generates an equal or greater counteraction by hackers to corrupt and exploit the new technology. I also find it disconcerting that at any given time, the most aggressively marketed “solutions” to IT security problems represent a trailing indicator of what cyber criminals are actually doing to raise hell. Read More »

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Securing Your Company’s Data in a Mobile World

Mobile workers accessing corporate applications and data from a range of personal and corporate devices is fast becoming the new normal. Month by month every survey confirms the inevitable—mixing personal and business data, devices, and apps. Companies are scrambling amidst a sea of new technologies to regain control of their IT infrastructure, and those thinking ahead are planning for more than just tolerance of personal data and scaling mobile access; they’re building the next evolution of application access, which is based on consistent policies for application and data across any access method or device. These architectures demand an integrated system that spans device, network, and application layers, and they demand policies for employee access based on much more than user name and password. Read More »

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Why the Cisco SIO Portal Doesn’t Give Out Candy

“Change is inevitable—except from a vending machine.”

In the spirit of Robert C. Gallagher’s famous quote—and in our quest to never be a vending machine—we’ve rolled out several updates to Cisco’s Security Intelligence Operations (SIO) Portal which I trust you will find useful. Thanks to your feedback, we continue to evolve the Portal to ensure that relevant security content is where you need it, when you need it. Providing timely information to our customers requires not only a global team of Cisco security experts to pipeline the latest information, but a complementary team who ensures that the most significant issues are also the most visible. In fact, that’s the most exciting change we made: a new ‘Security Highlights’ tab which allows a cross-functional group, led by our content managers, to call out the most important issues to our customers. That way, instead of looking at IntelliShield alerts, Cisco Security Notices, or Event Responses individually when time is scarce, this new tab gives you an at-a-glance view of Cisco security content our experts feel is most pressing given all of the events into which we have a view.

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RSA 2013: That’s a Wrap

RSA 2013 ends and I both miss it and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over. Let me explain. As a security guy, it’s nice to be around other security like-minded people.  We all speak the language. You needn’t really justify why you are worried about things most people have never heard of. It’s exciting to see so many people try so many different things, be it startups, big companies, or inspired individuals. It’s great to see government employees, corporate executives, and pony-tailed security geeks all talking to one another.  In a slightly strange way, it’s therapeutic.

That said, RSA is an incredibly intense week, and this year’s conference was no exception. In four-and-a-half full days (and this is just my schedule), I had:

  • Eight customer meetings
  • Eight dinners (working out to 1.78 dinners per day.)
  • Four press interviews: two on-record, one background, 1 live videocast via Google+
  • Four bizdev/company review meetings
  • Two panels
  • Two  analyst interviews
  • Two partner meetings
  • One customer breakfast talk along with with Chris Young

And this doesn’t include the countless run-ins with friends, a quick word here or there, and emails that all have to be managed along the way. In some respects, you don’t get enough time with really good friends (if there really is such a thing as enough time for such people in our lives), and in the end, it’s a huge blur from meeting to meeting.

I posed a question in my blog earlier this year: Are we making progress in cyber security? I say yes, yet not nearly enough, and now I am thinking hard about how to change it before RSA 2014.

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Defense in Depth with Software Defined Networking

Last week at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, I had the pleasure of speaking to thousands of security professionals about the opportunities and risks associated with using Software Defined Networking (SDN) for security, which will be the underlying fabric of our next generation data centers and networks. SDN-enabled security will provide a better way to secure our most valuable applications, users and data, now and in the future.

Each vendor has a different definition of how the network is changing, and there are many different terms being used, such as software defined data center and software defined storage. Cisco calls this Application Centric Networking, for example, because we are introducing programmable APIs with a focus on distributed control plane intelligence so that applications can get value directly from the network.

It’s obvious why the networking industry is embracing SDN: lower operational costs and the ability to deploy applications and network services in a quicker, more scalable manner. Cloud bursting, which is about flexible compute in the cloud, is another SDN benefit that gives us the ability for applications to interact directly with the network in ways that do not happen today.  For example, applications will be able to query the network for location of users to manage Quality of Service and deliver highly targeted content.

So why should the security industry care about SDN? As the threat landscape evolves, the opportunity is to make Security a key application for SDN. We can use SDN to build a Network-based Threat Defense System. I see three key elements to this system:

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