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A Culture of Transparency

Many Cisco customers with an interest in product security are aware of our security advisories and other publications issued by our Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT). That awareness is probably more acute than usual following the recent Cisco IOS Software Security Advisory Bundled Publication on September 25. But many may not be aware of the reasoning behind why, when, and how Cisco airs its “dirty laundry.”

Our primary reason for disclosing vulnerabilities is to ensure customers are able to accurately assess, mitigate, and remediate the risk our vulnerabilities may pose to the security of their networks.

In order to deliver on that promise, Cisco has has made some fundamental and formative decisions that we’ve carried forward since our first security advisory in June 1995.

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Mobility: No Longer a Risky Business?

Risk. It’s not just a strategic board game; in business it’s the analysis that determines the potential for loss.CiscoSecurity

In today’s organization, the consumerization of IT has led to groundbreaking developments in the mobility space. The broad deployment of BYOD, coupled with the availability of corporate data and applications, have challenged how we define security. And with recent news reports citing the rise of mobile hacking and network threats, the security of mobile technology and the data it carries seems to be at risk.

Fortunately, all is not lost.

Mobility gives employees and providers options for the workplace and creating a mobile experience that is efficient and innovative. It is also helping businesses save and make money. Today, employees in any place on any device can access any application across any network in any cloud. As a result, there are challenges associated with implementing a comprehensive BYOD policy that encompasses a proliferation of devices connecting to a network.

Even though mobility can cut costs and increase productivity, 60 percent of IT professionals recently surveyed believe mobile devices in 2013 present more of a risk to their organization than they did in 2012. And even with the growing concerns over mobile security, it still appears that only 60 percent of organizations require security technology for mobility plans. Why isn’t that number higher? After all Android Malware grew 2,577 percent in 2012 alone.

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Cisco’s onePK Part 2: Reaching out to a Network Element

Exordium

In the previous installment of the onePK series, you received a crash course on Cisco’s onePK. In this article, you’ll take the next step with a fun little exposé on onePK’s C API. You will learn how to write a simple program to reach out and connect to a network element. This is staple onePK functionality and is the foundation upon which most onePK applications are built.

Preambling Details

The following short program “ophw” (onePK Hello World), is a fully functional onePK application that will connect to a network element, query its system description, and then disconnect. It doesn’t do anything beyond that, but it does highlight some lynchpin onePK code: network element connection and session handle instantiation. This is the foundational stuff every onePK application needs before useful work can get done. Read More »

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Razzle Dazzle v2.0

During World War I, British artist and navy officer Norman Wilkinson proposed the use of “Dazzle Camouflage” on ships. The concept behind Dazzle Camouflage, as Wilkinson explained, was to “paint a ship with large patches of strong colour in a carefully thought out pattern and colour scheme …, which will so distort the form of the vessel that the chances of successful aim by attacking submarines will be greatly decreased.” The Dazzle Camouflage was not intended to hide the presence of the ships themselves, but instead was created to hide the ships size, shape, direction, and speed from would-be attackers.

dazzle_camo
Razzle Dazzle Camouflage applied to a ship

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Big Security—Mining Mountains of Log Data to Find Bad Stuff

Your network, servers, and a horde of laptops have been hacked. You might suspect it, or you might think it’s not possible, but it’s happened already. What’s your next move?

The dilemma of the “next move” is that you can only discover an attack either as it’s happening, or after it’s already happened. In most cases, it’s the latter, which justifies the need for a computer security incident response team (CSIRT). Brandon Enright, Matthew Valites, myself, and many other security professionals constitute Cisco’s CSIRT. We’re the team that gets called in to investigate security incidents for Cisco. We help architect monitoring solutions and strategies and enable the rest of our team to discover security incidents as soon as possible. We are responsible for monitoring the network and responding to incidents discovered both internally by our systems or reported to us externally via csirt-notify@cisco.com.

Securing and monitoring a giant multinational high-speed network can be quite a challenge. Volume and diversity, not complexity, are our primary enemies when it comes to incident response. We index close to a terabyte of log data per day across Cisco, along with processing billions of NetFlow records, millions of intrusion detection alarms, and millions of host security log records. This doesn’t even include the much larger data store of authentication and authorization data for thousands of people. Naturally, like all large corporations, dedicated attackers, hacking collectives, hacktivists, and typical malware/crimeware affect Cisco. Combine these threats with internally sourced security issues, and we’ve got plenty of work cut out for us.

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