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CSIRT Monitoring for Cisco House at the London 2012 Olympic Games

As part of CSIRT’s mobile monitoring offering for special events, we undertook monitoring of the corporate and customer traffic of the Cisco House at the London 2012 Olympics. This engagement presents us with an excellent opportunity to showcase Cisco technology, while keeping a close watch on potential network security threats. CSIRT monitoring for this event will be active for the entire life-span of the Cisco House, from two months before the Olympics, until two months after.

For the London 2012 engagement, we shipped our gear in a 14RU military-grade rack that is containerized: made for shipping. Inside the mobile monitoring rack we have an assortment of Cisco kit and third-party kit that mirrors the monitoring we do internally:

  • Catalyst 3750 to fan out traffic to all the other devices
  • FireEye for advanced malware detection
  • Two Cisco IronPort WSA devices for web traffic filtering based on reputation
  • Cisco UCS box where we run multiple VMs
  • Lancope StealthWatch collector for NetFlow data
  • and a Cisco 4255 IDS for intrusion detection

We mirror the signatures that we have deployed internally at Cisco out to these remote locations. Depending on the environment where the mobile monitoring rack is deployed, we may also do some custom tuning. The kit in the mobile monitoring rack can do intrusion detection, advanced malware detection, and collect and parse NetFlow and log data for investigation purposes. The Cisco UCS rack server also helps us have several VMs,  allowing us to run multiple tools that complement the other devices in the rack. For example, we run a Splunk instance on a VM to collect the logs generated by all the services. The data from the gear in the mobile monitoring rack is analyzed by our team of analysts and investigators, to eliminate false positives, conduct mitigation and remediation, and finally produce an incident report if required.

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Have You Hacked Yourself Lately?

Security professionals are planners by nature. Our industry expects planning, legal and standards compliance requires it, and we drive ourselves toward it. However, the best plans fall out of date quickly. And as the adage commonly paraphrased as “no plan survives contact with the enemy” states, even properly maintained, up-to-date, and well-thought-out plans may fall apart during an incident.

What’s the remedy? We certainly shouldn’t throw out our plans. Instead, we should test and adjust our plans so that when the real enemy shows up, we might have a plan that survives, at least from a broad perspective. In short: security professional, hack thyself!
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Anatomy of a Data Breach: Part II

Don’t be the Next Victim

Even as the latest breach headline fades away, we all know there is another waiting in the wings (read Part I of my blog). How can organizations protect themselves? There is no panacea for securing a payment environment, and implementing advanced technology alone will not make an organization compliant with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS). The PCI DSS provides a solid foundation for a security strategy that covers payment and other types of data, but overall security does not begin and end with PCI compliance. Therefore, an organization’s security strategy should employ best practices and an architecture that will not only facilitate PCI compliance, but also help secure the cardholder environment, prevent identity theft, reliably protect brand image and assets, mitigate financial risk, and provide a secure foundation for new business services.

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What is it Like to be a Cisco Security Analyst?

Security events, such as vulnerabilities and threats, that are detected globally continue to grow and evolve in scale, impact, diversity, and complexity. Compounded with this is the other side of the coin, the unreported or undetected events waiting in the wings, hovering below the radar in a stealthy state. With all of the security technologies at our disposal, are they sufficient enough to provide effective protection? Well, it is certainly a good start when applied correctly. At a summary level, Cisco’s Security Intelligence Operations (SIO) approach to this challenge was covered in the Network World feature article, “Inside Cisco Security Intelligence Operations.” However, one of the core human elements, which I will introduce, that deserves closer attention is the role of security analyst. In addition, this article provides those of you with career interests some additional insight into working in the IT security field.

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Anatomy of a Data Breach: Part 1

Last weekend was a typical one, nothing out of the ordinary: errands, science fairs, softball practice with the kids.  However, I found myself hesitating a number of times, thinking twice, before I handed my credit card to the cashier at the mall for to purchase a pair of shoes and again as I typed in my credit card number and security code online to purchase some items for a school fund raiser.  In the past, I hadn’t given this much thought, but with yet another data breach in the news, it seems that the breaches are continuing to occur – and as consumers, we will continue getting those ‘Dear John’ letters informing us we were one of the unlucky ones…

With news of another data breach of up to 1.5 million credit and debit cards compromised last month as well as high-profile data attacks against the International Monetary Fund, National Public Radio, Google and Sony’s PlayStation Network, data security should be top of mind to all of us.  So, how are these breaches continuing despite all of the efforts to secure customer data?  In a series of blog entries to follow, we’ll outline the anatomy of a data breach, steps you can take to reduce your risk, and how Cisco can help keep your organization from being the topic of the next breach headline.

Anatomy of a Data Breach:

It used to be that hackers were in the business of hacking for fame or infamy… mostly individuals or groups of friends were doing small-time breaches, leaving digital graffiti on well-known websites. Although these breaches demonstrated security gaps among those affected, there was little financial impact compared to today.  It should come as no surprise in a world of big data, that it is harder than ever for organizations to protect their confidential information.  Complex, heterogeneous IT environments make data protection and threat response very difficult.

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