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Cisco Wraps Up 5th Annual SecCon Conference

Having recently wrapped up the 5th Annual Cisco SecCon Conference, I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you what Cisco SecCon is and the benefits to our products and you, our customers. With that, let’s start with a brief overview!

What is Cisco SecCon?

SecCon is a security conference for Cisco engineers that focuses on two critical elements for a healthy corporate Security intelligence: 1) expansion of knowledge for all and 2) building a sense of community. We allocate two days for intensive hands-on security training, and then we provide two general session days to discuss a variety of security topics including:

  • Cisco Secure Development Lifecycle
  • Best practices for security test suites
  • Cutting-edge cryptography
  • Implementation challenges
  • Current threat landscape
  • Vulnerability trends

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Bringing Up the Social Media Baby

According to a Nielsen study, social media is no longer in its infancy.  No kidding.

During the November military confrontation between Israel and Hamas, social media played a very grown-up role.  What distinguished it from past politically-charged social media exchanges was the participation of state and pseudo-state spokespersons.  Official announcements were issued by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigade via Twitter and Facebook in near real-time.

  • The IDF announced the initiation of the military campaign via Twitter, and tweeted in caps that it had “ELIMINATED” Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari in an airstrike.
  • The Brigade responded with threats of retaliation; both sides posted minute-by-minute updates as the fighting unfolded.

The evolution of social media into an official communications venue should come as no surprise.  It follows a time-honored pattern of disruptive ideas and technologies gaining acceptability as they move into the mainstream.  The Nielsen Social Media 2012 study tells us that 30 percent of individuals’ mobile device time is spent accessing social media.  That qualifies as mainstream.

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Network Attacks: The Who, What, Where and Why

As security practitioners, we generally see three types of perpetrators with different motives:

  • Financial
  • Political
  • General trouble-making

Each of these attackers can display various levels of organizational structure:

  • Individual
  • Well-organized, persistent group
  • Ad-hoc groups pursuing a common purpose

Each one of these subsets has their own techniques and goals, but unfortunately, can strike anywhere at anytime.

As different attack types come in and out of vogue, we are closely watching all of these perpetrators and their preferred methods of attack to better understand how to recognize and counteract them.

In the video linked here, I discuss some of the latest threat trends, and how businesses and individuals can prepare and protect themselves.

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The Power of Mobility & Learning

December 11, 2012 at 11:18 am PST

The mobility trend holds great promise for improved productivity and new engagement models. These are most powerful in a learning effort—imagine learning anywhere and anytime. I just wish I had the Internet and the mobility that students have today when I went to school. Yet, mobility is an IT tsunami that will not recede. One of the most damaging aspects of this storm is the possibility of numerous personal devices that are entering organizations, accessing the network and eventually critical assets, and stealing sensitive data or mistakenly bringing malware. Many people know this policy as BYOD or bring your own device. This is not a new phrase but it is still quite prevalent. Inventory and provisioning of personal mobile devices is just the tip of this wave. Organizations want to control mobile devices to ensure acceptable usage and minimize security incidents.

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Where the Rubber Meets the Road: The Security Control Framework

When Cisco introduced the Cisco SecureX Architecture at the 2011 RSA Conference in San Francisco, it aimed to provide network security practitioners the following benefits of a security architecture:

  • Contextual awareness
  • Comprehensive visibility
  • Scalable control
  • Dynamic adaptability to new threats
  • Data and application protection

What exactly does this mean? What does it do? How is it implemented? Which products are needed to achieve the benefits of a Cisco SecureX Architecture?

These are just some of the questions we hear when consulting with people tasked with the protection of an organization’s information and providing appropriate security controls around current and/or new business initiatives.

Around business initiatives, joint research conducted by IBM developerWorks and the IBM Center for Applied Insights has reported four information technologies (mobile technology, business analytics, cloud computing, and social business) that are rapidly reshaping how enterprises operate. This joint research has been published in the 2012 IBM Tech Trends report and security has been identified as a threat to innovation and a top barrier to adopting business-critical technology.

“Mobile technology, business analytics, cloud computing, and social business are rewriting strategic playbooks across industries. In these spaces, new business possibilities are emerging faster than many organizations can act on them, with significant IT skill shortages and security concerns threatening progress. Yet, some companies are equipped to innovate at the front edges of these fast-moving technology trends and drive strategic advantages for their organizations.” -- 2012 IBM Tech Trends pdf

With that introduction of how security relates to business innovation, the aim of this blog post is to raise awareness that the Cisco SecureX architecture is beyond marketing and that in the background, Cisco and our partners are developing products, technology, services, and learning curricula—to help practitioners deploy cyber security architectures using models such as the Cisco Security Control Framework—so that a security architectural blueprint can be in place to allow organizations to have the confidence and agility to accelerate business transformation.

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