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Cyber Security Survival for the Holidays

A couple of days ago, I participated in a Social Video Broadcast about cyber security survival tips for the holiday season. Some of my advice is familiar. Use stronger passwords, apply the “smell test” to too-good-to-be-true on-line offers, read the manual—especially the parts about account set up and security—when turning on a new device. Others are a little less well known. I keep a separate credit card account with a low spending limit for on-line purchases. Ask your Sys Admins if it is OK to connect a new “BYOD” device to an enterprise network when you return to work in January.

But the most important advice I offer is to slow down and think before doing anything that might subject you to cyber mayhem. Technology, and the Internet in particular, has programmed us to rush through life. But the best way to make it into to the Cyber Security Victims Hall of Regret is to lose your sense of situational awareness by clicking on anything that moves. This needn’t lead to paralyzing indecision. But taking a moment to ask: “Is this for real? Is this wise? Why does that look funny?” will spare you from a lot of harm in the holiday season.

You can watch a replay of the broadcast here: http://newsroom.cisco.com/feature-content?type=webcontent&articleId=1104963

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Cisco and the Association of Retail Technology Standards (ARTS)

Fellow Technologists,

Why are standards so important in Information Technology?  Standards enable interoperability between complex systems.  Many enterprises look to products that use these standards for easy integration between their existing and new systems, as well as lowering design, development, and production costs.  Further, standards allow innovation, enabling new solutions that solve business problems.

Cisco has been a member of the Association of Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) since 2006 and has contributed to many white papers and standards over the years, including Cloud, SOA, Mobile, and Social Blueprints.  Many of the standards created by ARTS focus on the messaging syntax used between systems that enable products from a diverse set of vendors to interoperate and communicate with one another—complexity made simple.

ARTS is the IT standards division of the National Retail Federation (NRF), and is comprised of over 200 international vendors and retailers dedicated to reducing the costs of technology through standards. Since 1993, ARTS has been delivering application standards exclusively to the retail industry. ARTS has four disciplines: the Standard Relational Data Model, Unified POS, XML, and Standard RFPs. The National Retail Federation (NRF) will be having its next Big Show in January at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.  ARTS is targeting to release several new publications at this show and Cisco will be there sharing our latest solutions developed with our technology partners. Read More »

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Ask the Data Center Expert, Partner Edition: Southeast Asia and the Rapidly Changing Landscape

The following are excerpts from an interview with Wong IK Ming, Director, eSURIA MENTARI SYSTEMS SDN BHD.

From halfway around the globe in fabulous Singapore, I was delighted to have the chance to interview Wong IK Ming, a Cisco Certified Partner covering Southeast Asian nations, to get his perspectives on data center security opportunities.

Tell me about your customers. What are their most pressing problems?

eSURIA caters mostly for the public sector but we are now extending our services to include Oil and Energy. Our customers have to adhere to new and emerging government mandates around data privacy and sovereignty. This requires a combination of strong governance processes mapped to sound technical controls and a design that is future proof, for example ensuring unified policy, dynamic and logical segmentation. Security must be thought out from the beginning—from the application to the edge of the cloud. I’ve seen a couple of instances of community clouds where security has not been thought through and it’s a matter of time before a security incident occurs.

As a partner, what benefits do you see for Cisco’s approach to data center security?

Our customers are fast adopting new infrastructure models and having the Cisco Validated Designs is a huge benefit because it enables us to attest to the technical soundness of the overall solution and to present security as an integrated element as opposed to a separate element. It also enables us to build these into the overall services templates that we provide with confidence that the necessary testing has taken place. I look forward to seeing more of these validated designs. For example, a validated security blueprint for Microsoft private cloud applications with Cisco UCS.

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Real World DNS Abuse: Finding Common Ground

Prologue

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the protocol leveraged within the Internet´s distributed name and address database architecture. Originally implemented to make access to Internet-based resources human-friendly, DNS quickly became critical infrastructure in the intricate behind-the-scenes mechanics of the Internet, second only to routing in its importance. When DNS becomes inaccessible, the functionality of many common Internet-based applications such as e-mail, Web browsing, and e-commerce can be adversely affected—sometimes on a wide scale. This short blog post will explore some real-world examples of DNS abuse. I would like to welcome and thank Andrae Middleton for joining me as a co-author and presenting his expertise on this article.

There are a few different types of DNS attacks: cache poisoning, hijacking attacks, and denial of service (DoS) attacks (which primarily include reflection and amplification). In the news as of late are widespread and focused DoS attacks. Cisco Security Intelligence Operations (SIO), with its distributed sensors, is able observe and measure various aspects of the global DNS infrastructure. What follows are two vignettes detailing recent Internet DNS DoS attacks against the Internet’s DNS infrastructure. We will see that, though the attacks are different, the results are similar and the countermeasures and mitigations are the same.

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The Day I Lost My Mobile with Sensitive Corporate Data

November 26, 2012 at 8:18 am PST

It was a dark, cold, and scary night when I returned from dinner with friends and noticed that my mobile phone was missing. It had corporate sensitive data such as emails, calendar events, and documents, as well as personal data (including pictures, videos and other documents). Well, let me be honest with you, I didn’t really lose my phone. However, many cell phones, tablets, and other gadgets are lost or stolen on a daily basis. The problem of stolen mobile devices is huge. According to a report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year, about 40 percent of robberies in Washington, D.C., New York, and other major cities now involve mobile devices. The FCC has teamed up with the nation’s top wireless carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, to develop a database of stolen mobile devices.

Allowing employees to access corporate email, critical business applications and data makes workers more productive and effective. Finding just the right balance when allowing easy access to the applications that users need to be more productive, while maintaining the integrity and security of enterprise resources, will give your organization a competitive advantage.

Stolen and lost devices are among the many challenges of mobile device security.

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