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Ask the Data Center Security Expert: Context-Aware and Adaptive Strategies for an Agile Data Center

At Cisco Live London, one of my data center theater presentations will focus on the benefits of a context-aware and adaptive security strategy. This approach helps accelerate the adoption of virtualization and cloud, which traditional static security models often inhibit. Context-based approaches factor in identity, application, location, device, and time along additional security intelligence such as real-time global threat feeds for more accurate security access decisions.

Neil MacDonald, vice president, distinguished analyst, and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research has been advocating the benefits of a context-based approach now for some years as outlined in his Gartner blog. Not only does he say that by 2015, 90 percent of enterprise security solutions will be context-aware but in cloud computing environments where IT increasingly doesn’t own key IT stack elements, having additional context at the point of security decision leads to better decisions with risk prioritization and business factors accounted for. Neil MacDonald also co-authored a report, “Emerging Technology Analysis: Cloud-based Reputation Services,” which highlights the value of cloud-based threat intelligence in enabling secure cloud adoption.

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Happy New Exploit Kits! (I mean Happy Belated New Year!)

January 22, 2013 at 7:44 am PST

It’s only been a few days since we said goodbye to 2012 and we are already seeing what many predicted for 2013: an increase in the creation, enhancement, and usage of numerous exploit kits by cyber criminals. Cyber criminals don’t take long vacations in December. On the contrary, they “work hard” and make lots of money during the holiday season! These criminals are continuously improving their tools to keep up with us (the good guys) and continue enhancing their “money-making machines.” A real-life example is how cyber criminals were able to quickly incorporate the exploits of the recently found Java vulnerability that I described in a post a few days ago.

Exploit kits make it easy for these criminals because they can easily spread malicious software that exploits well-known and new vulnerabilities. New exploit kits are loaded with some of the most dangerous zero-day exploits and other features that allow criminals to increase their profits.

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How Will You Keep Up With An Avalanche of Connections in 2013?

Ask the Data Center Security Expert with Cisco’s Rajneesh Chopra

Rajneesh Chopra is the Director of Product Management and Marketing at Cisco for the enterprise firewall line of technologies and has more than 10 years of product management leadership experience in the networking and data center arena. He also has a very futuristic outlook and a great passion for solving big customer problems.

Rajneesh sees the confluence of mobility, power efficiency, and standardization as the key drivers for change in the next-generation data center and with implications for the way security will need to be addressed. These changes are particularly significant as they are being driven by end-users versus heavy marketing pushes, which can often artificially induce change. Rajneesh delves into each of these factors and the role they play in the next generation data center.

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Red October in January: The Cyber Espionage Era

January 15, 2013 at 9:02 am PST

Researchers from Kaspersky Lab have released information about a large-scale cyber espionage campaign called Operation Red October (otherwise known as Rocra). The report has garnered the attention of multiple news agencies and generated many published articles since the Kaspersky report has claimed that attackers were targeting hundreds of diplomatic, governmental, and scientific organizations in numerous countries.

These reports indicate that the command-and-control (C&C) infrastructure that is used on these attacks receives stolen information using more than 60 domain names to hide its identity. Furthermore, this information appears to be funneled into a second tier of proxy servers. These are very clever attacks that many are now claiming have been taking place for more than five years! Red October is being compared with other malware that has been associated with cyber espionage such as Duqu, Flame, and Gauss.

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New PSIRT Deliverable Aids Transparency in Vulnerability Disclosure

A phrase I’ve recently been hearing repeated is that “product features will come and go, but risk mitigation is continuous.”  With that in mind, our Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) is doing its part by seeking ways to improve how we transparently communicate information about Cisco product vulnerabilities to our Customers and Partners.  Starting in January of 2013 we will be launching a new deliverable called the Cisco Security Notice.

The purpose of the Cisco Security Notice is to make it easier for Customers and Partners to access information about low to medium severity vulnerabilities in Cisco products.  A Cisco Security Notice will be the primary disclosure document for all security defects that PSIRT scores with a Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) base score from 4.0 to 6.9 and will be posted to the PSIRT publication listing page.  Each vulnerability disclosed through a Cisco Security Notice will be assigned a Common Vulnerability and Exposures (CVE) Identifier to aid in identification.   Check out the sites for CVE, CVSS, and this CVSS scoring calculator if these terms are relatively new to you or you simply need a refresher.  Read More »

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