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Evolving the Next-Generation Firewall: The Importance of Being Platform-Based

Why is platform-based a key imperative for next-generation firewalls (NGFWs)? In our previous blog posts, we outlined what it means to be threat-centric, integrating best-in-class security layers with shared intelligence across all layers to combat advanced multi-vector threats.

Multiple point products create considerable management complexity and cost for IT staff who are under tremendous pressure to efficiently manage IT environments, keep operational costs low, and maintain the best defenses to keep pace with the dynamic threat landscape.

To protect extended networks, the idea of being platform-based entails delivering a more effective yet simplified architecture with fewer security devices to manage and deploy. Unifying security layers in a single device not only closes gaps that attackers exploit but this architecture also reduces cost and complexity in a number of ways.

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Step Up to a New Standard in Threat Defense

The 135 Spanish Steps are perhaps one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome—and this in a city where your alternatives include stunning options like visiting the Vatican, the Colosseum or the Trevi Fountain. And yet, a visitor to the Spanish Steps today is first—and ahead of any chance to delve into the rich history or architectural heritage of this monumental stairway—forewarned of the dangers of the omnipresent pickpockets that frequent the area! I bring this up because while European vacations may not always be part of our quotidian routine, our daily lives do involve shopping online, visiting our neighborhood retailer or posting updates on social media. And none of these places post enough warning signs urging us to be wary of the virtual pickpockets, waiting to steal and profit from personal, financial and business information that traverses across thousands of transactions at places we visit in person or on our browsers every single day.

As consumers we may even squeeze by with a bit of a lax attitude, but businesses are only painfully aware of the speed, ferocity and variety with which attackers move to try and gain access to critical business data. Our customers tell us that their cybersecurity teams work tirelessly—but often in reactive mode—to fight against breaches and constantly assess ways to eliminate vulnerable links. Today, we are thrilled to share that we’re stepping up to provide our customers and partners with enhanced capabilities to combat the changing nature of threats. Cisco ASA with FirePOWER Services integrates the proven Cisco ASA 5500 Series firewall with application control, and the industry-leading Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention Systems (NGIPS) and Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) from Sourcefire in a single device, providing integrated threat defense across the entire attack continuum—before, during and after an attack. Read More »

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Why a Next-Generation Firewall Must Be Threat-Centric

In an earlier blog, we discussed the importance of a visibility-driven approach to Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) and the need for capabilities that offer full visibility and contextual awareness into everything on networks since we know you can’t protect what you can’t see.

In addition to offering an unprecedented network visibility foundation, a NGFW must also be threat-centric to stop advanced, multi-vector threats, both known and unknown.

This means offering integrated threat defense for better control to combat these attacks across the attack continuum—before, during, and after an attack.

In complex environments, delivering integrated threat defense means ensuring that best-in-class capabilities, such as third-party tested and market-leading Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), Advanced Malware Protection (AMP), and URL filtering work together to protect against threats coming from multiple vectors.

Other NGFWs have not offered best-in-class network security capabilities in their devices, but rather, rudimentary versions of them. In addition, these solutions are poorly integrated and cannot share intelligence between security layers, making advanced threat detection and remediation difficult, if not impossible. Read More »

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A Visibility-Driven Approach to Next-Generation Firewalls

Cisco ASA with FirePOWER Services has redefined the next-generation firewall (NGFW) as an adaptive, threat-focused platform, delivering superior, multi-layered protection, unparalleled visibility, and reduced security costs and complexity.

This innovative new solution addresses three strategic imperatives—being visibility-driven, threat focused, and platform-based. In this post, we will examine the necessity of a foundation of full contextual awareness and visibility—to see everything in an environment, detect multi-vector threats and eliminate the visibility gaps in traditional defenses comprised of disparate point technologies that sophisticated attackers exploit.

In an aptly titled recent post from Joseph O’Laughlin, “You Cannot Protect What You Can’t See,” he discusses why visibility (and subsequent control) into only applications and users is no longer enough to protect today’s dynamic environments and outlines how visibility into the network enables better network protection. This core concept of visibility into the network is at the heart of Cisco ASA with FirePOWER Services (and our Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention Systems too) that sets it apart from all other network security competitors. Read More »

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ITD: Load Balancing, Traffic Steering & Clustering using Nexus 5k/6k/7k

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Data traffic has grown dramatically in the recent years, leading to increased deployment of network service appliances and servers in enterprise, data center, and cloud environments. To address the corresponding business needs, network switch and router architecture has evolved to support multi-terabit capacity. However, service appliance and server capacity remained limited to a few gigabits, far below switch capacity.

Cisco Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) is an innovative solution to bridge the performance gap between a multi-terabit switch and gigabit servers and appliances. It is an hardware based multi-terabit layer 4 load-balancing, traffic steering and clustering solution on the Nexus 7000 and 7700 series of switches.

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