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The Network as a Security Sensor and Enforcer

The Digital Economy and the Internet of Everything means everything is now connected. Digitization is fundamentally transforming how we conduct business. It creates new opportunities to develop services and engage with employees, partners, and customers. It’s important to understand that digitization is also an opportunity for the hacking community, presenting new services, information, data, devices, and network traffic as attack targets. To take full advantage of the digitization opportunity, security must be everywhere, embedded into and across the extended network – from the data center to the mobile endpoints and onto the factory floor.

Today, Cisco is announcing enhanced and embedded security solutions across the extended network and into the intelligent network infrastructure. These solutions extend security capabilities to more control points than ever before with Cisco FirePOWER, Cisco Cloud Web Security or Cisco Advanced Malware Protection. This is highlighted in Scott Harrell’s blog. We are also transforming the Cisco network into two roles: as a sensor and as an enforcer of security.

The role of the Network as a Sensor The network provides broad and deep visibility into network traffic flow patterns and rich threat intelligence information that allows more rapid identification of security threats. Cisco IOS NetFlow is at the heart of the network as a sensor, capturing comprehensive network flow data. You can think of NetFlow as analogous to the detail you get in your monthly cellular phone bill. It tells you who talked to whom, for every device and user, for how long, and what amount of data was transferred – it’s metadata for your network traffic.

Visibility to network traffic through NetFlow is critical for security, as it serves as a valuable tool to identify anomalous traffic on your network. Watching NetFlow, we gain an understanding of the baseline traffic on the network, and can alert on traffic that is out of the ordinary.  The network is generating NetFlow data from across the enterprise network all the way down to the virtual machines in the data center.  This gives us visibility across the entire network, from the furthest branch office down to the east-west traffic in the data center.  Read More »

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Is Your Network Cloud Ready?

Is your network cloud ready? We at NetCraftsmen, a Cisco Gold Partner, are hearing this question more often. Let’s discuss how to tell if your network is cloud ready, and how to get there if you’re not. Even if your organization already has a public cloud presence, I hope you’ll find some ideas in the following material.

Is Your Network Cloud Ready

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Working Smarter with Cisco Cloud Web Security

We listen to our customers all the time, and what they have been telling us about cloud security over the past 18 months is intriguing. There was a time when IT security leaders were clearly uncomfortable about the idea of trusting remotely delivered security; discussions about cloud security would be met with skepticism. Over the last year and a half, this attitude has undergone a sea of change, and moved through increasing levels of interest to today, where our customers are actively leaning in and engaging in the discussion about moving security functions to the cloud. There are several reasons for this dramatic shift.

Overall, the enterprise network no longer sits comfortably within four secure walls. Extended networks and new business models related to mobility, cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Everything (IoE) are complicating network management and security for companies of all sizes. IT professionals are being tasked with supporting and protecting this ever-evolving environment with fewer resources. Hampered by tighter budgets and the IT security industry’s growing skills shortage customers need to work smarter, not harder.

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#IWANWed: Harness the Power of Web Within the Enterprise Branch

Cloud Web Security AAG ImageIn the ever-changing world of enterprise branch environments, a high number of businesses are planning to migrate their WAN to the Internet. To be exact, Nemertes Research (Benchmark 2012–13 Emerging WAN Trends) estimates that number to be close to 50%.  That’s 50% of businesses migrating to Internet for WAN.

And why is that happening? Enterprises are trying to optimize their WAN to increase ROI. Internet has become a much more stable platform, offering significant price-to-performance gains. Thus, the growth of new cloud traffic, high bandwidth applications, and video can be easily load balanced across multiple WAN lines, one of which or both can be Internet links. Some of the enterprises go even further and enable local Internet breakout from the branch. Not only does it eliminate the need to unnecessarily backhaul the traffic to the corporate HQ or data center, but also helps to free up the precious WAN bandwidth for critical business related applications. This enables enterprises to provide guest Internet access within the branch and then slowly offer the same services to corporate users, both for trusted public clouds applications and general Internet access. Read More »

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IWAN Wed: The Case for Direct Internet Breakout at Branch and IWAN

Simplify Branch Security with ISRCloud services and SaaS applications is enabling customers to accelerate their business processes and improve employee productivity while lowering their total IT spending. The Cisco IWAN solution is helping organizations adopt cloud applications with an improved user experience by enabling local internet breakout from the branch environment, thus helping eliminate the need to backhaul internet-bound traffic across the WAN link. This helps provide the user improved experience through lower latency for not only internet applications, but also free up bandwidth for application on the WAN link. The reduced WAN link usage also means lower IT spending those links.

However, a study commissioned by Cisco during Jan’14 from 641 customers from US and Europe on their MPLS usage and adoption of local internet breakout found that 68% of the customers responded that enabling direct internet access was an organizational focus for them.  However, 54% of the total respondents reported that lack of sufficient security at the branch environment hindered them from enabling local internet breakout at the branch. This was ranked as the #1 reason to not enable Direct Internet Access at branch sites.

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