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Bringing Context-Aware Security to Applications

Are you really who you say you are? This has long been the key question and the key challenge in managing user access to corporate networks and IT systems. In recent years, capabilities for context-aware security have expanded this WHO question to identify the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW details for each login attempt at the network level. Now, a planned deployment of application connector software for the Cisco Identity Services Engine (Cisco ISE) will extend our context-aware security down to the application level.

How Context Awareness Supports More Control

Network security has traditionally operated on trust that the person behind a login name and password is indeed the right one. The problem is when hackers capture usernames and passwords. They can simply login and access anything authorized for that user, even the most sensitive data and most critical systems. Context-aware security limits that open access by evaluating more factors in the login and detecting variations from the user’s norms.

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AMP Threat Grid Extends and Bolsters Our Ability to Combat Malicious Malware

New, clever, and dangerous malware is being devised all the time. After a piece of malware is well known, signature-based defenses such as antivirus and other detection and prevention tools can catch it. But what about new, increasingly insidious malware that isn’t well known? Last year, Cisco acquired the dynamic malware analysis and threat intelligence capabilities of ThreatGRID. The fruit of this acquisition is Cisco Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) Threat Grid, a technology that complements our AMP products and is currently integrated into Cisco security gear spanning the network, from intrusion detection systems, to email and web security appliances, to endpoints.

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Cisco IT’s User Experience Playbook: Feedback Systems and Sentiment Analysis

For us to make user experience (UX) a pervasive, positive experience for users across the company, we need to put feedback systems and sentiment analysis in place. This process helps enable continuous improvement and in-the-moment feedback. That’s what Chapter 4 of our Cisco IT User Experience Playbook is all about.

How do we know the impact our services are having on our user base? And how do we better know where to prioritize our improvement efforts? The IT service owners know what the users have to say because we empower employees to communicate their opinion. Through closed-loop communication, we enable a process of Listening, Analysis, and Action.

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Cisco IT Promotes STEM Initiatives

My previous blog about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) highlighted examples of how Cisco IT is supporting STEM initiatives through mentoring, IT training, and job programs with schools in local communities. Here I’d like to spotlight the Boys and Girls in Leadership and STEM program, which aims to motivate middle school youth to consider STEM careers and to find their inner leader.

A large group of Cisco IT volunteers, led by four talented and motivated females, implemented this program over the course of three months. Originally it was intended to reach only girls and promote STEM and leadership, but the organizers quickly concluded that true positive impact would be best achieved by equally reaching out to both genders. The approach follows a systematic, scalable framework that immerses these young minds in technology, leadership, teamwork, and the art of the possible.

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Tales of a Fourth-Grade Something: Big Data with Cisco & Splunk at .conf & Strata

Someone at a meeting recently told me how cool it was that big data was finally moving out of the early adopter phase. He’s lucky I wasn’t drinking a beverage at the time, or he might have ended up wearing it.

I’m accused of being sort of a unicorn when it comes to the Big Data ecosystem, having worked with engineered Big Data environments since 2004 or so and Hadoop proper since 2009. And while some individual companies may be emerging from early adopter, it’s hard to say that Big Data itself is that new. You just have to look at the conference world to see how big this ecosystem has become, and how it’s shifted from theory and skunkworks projects and resume fodder, to technology solutions for new and metamorphic problems in business.

Some people will say “But surely there’s only been a competitive landscape for Hadoop distributions since 2012, right?” That’s true, but as I’ve said in 20 or more presentations in the past year, Big Data is more than Hadoop. And don’t call me Shirley.

One of the oldest companies driving Big Data software predates commercial Hadoop by a couple of years. In fact, they’re just about old enough to go into fourth grade (with apologies to Judy Blume for my title on this post). And you still have time to join Splunk (and Cisco) for their seventh annual worldwide user conference the week of September 21, 2015.

Buttercup at the .conf Search Party courtesy Lily Wai (@lgwai)

Buttercup at .conf Search Party via Lily Wai (@lgwai)


.conf is Splunk’s annual worldwide user conference, attended by thousands of customers and partners and users of Splunk’s suite of products.

Cisco has been attending, and presenting, for a while now, and 2015 is no exception. We will have a booth in the expo at .conf 2015, and you can join members of the Cisco team at two IT Operations breakout sessions.

  • Thursday, September 24, 11:15am: Cisco and Splunk: Under the Hood of Cisco IT (with Robert Novak and Cisco IT’s George Lancaster)

Learn how Cisco IT uses Splunk software to gain deep operational visibility into applications, accelerate problem resolution, and drive better business outcomes.

  • Thursday, September 24, 1:15pm: Event-Driven SDN with Splunk and Cisco’s Open SDN Controller (with Steven Carter and Friea Berg)

This session presents and demonstrates a system using Splunk and the Cisco Open SDN Controller for steering large data flows around firewalls and other devices that could disturb their performance while actively blocking threats.

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