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Have You Architected Your Data Center Survival Strategy for A Dystopic Cyber Landscape?

Drawing from a recent read of “Case 1: The Seeds of Dysptopia” in the World Economic Forum 2012 Global Risks 2012 Seventh Edition, it’s now more than apparent than ever that the impact of crime and terrorism in the digital world is fast mirroring that of a physical world.  We’re living in an era where attempts to build a more secure world may have unintentionally gone astray  as evidenced in Ellen Messmer’s Worst Security Snafus of 2012  where such consequences were clearly not imagined or intended by security vendors and businesses alike.   We’re indeed dealing with the opposite of Utopia.

Our digital reality can be very fragile when one considers that how heavily we rely on mobile devices and cloud applications not only to conduct business but also in our personal lives.  And the data that is transmitted via these devices and to various cloud applications is increasingly a target for scammers, thieves and hactivists.

And, it’s not only government entities, critical infrastructure and key verticals that are the targets of such attacks; in today’s climate every organization is a prime target.  Take the very recent case of an Australian healthcare organization that is being held to ransom by hackers to the tune of AU$4,000 who recently hacked into their database and encrypted the data – it seems an extraordinary scenario for a small organization to be facing.   Not only has their data been compromised but it has been rendered inaccessible as the organization now has to find a way to decrypt that data, which is proving to be rather challenging.

So what should organizations do to shore up their defenses?  Start by treating data as the key asset to be protected versus fortifying your infrastructure.  In today’s world data takes on increased significance --  bank account statements, personal information, credit card numbers, trade secrets, government documents. Every one has data  they  need to ensure tight control off and aligning security controls to the  CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability ) triad can help ensure the right measures are taken.

When we talk about confidentiality of information, it’s about about protecting  information from disclosure to unauthorized parties. In addition to measures like encryption, look to beef up  access controls  by feeding security decisions and intelligence across various enforcement points in the network rather than only at a single choke point in the data stream. Integrity of information refers to protecting information from being modified by unauthorized parties. Leverage global correlation and threat intelligence with reputation-based feeds to protect against new threat vectors and emerging malware. Availability of information  means ensuring that authorized parties are able to access the information when needed. Think of the network as a data enforcement layer and link that to a strategy that identifies users based on contextual attributes (where, when, how and business need to know) when accessing critical of confidential information assets.  So, what I have outlined is a starting point towards moving one step at a time towards a Utopian Digital Future. What are your strategies?  We’d love to hear from you.

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What Will 2013 Bring for Your Data Center Security?

With the end of the year fast approaching and the 31st Annual Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas this week, this post is dedicated to a quick reflection on emerging data center trends and their impact on security.

The global technology analyst firm Ovum[1] expects the market to become further focused on cost-savings and efficient internal IT delivery methods with broader virtualization, cloud and the use of converged infrastructure systems in 2013.  This closely mirrors the agenda for the Gartner Data Center Conference where the agenda shows focus on trends such as IT Operational Excellence, Optimal Cloud Strategies and Delivering Greater Business Value.

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Cisco Domain Ten: Domain 1: Facilities and Infrastructure

December 6, 2012 at 11:22 am PST

Yesterday I introduced you to the Cisco Domain TenSM, Cisco Services’ framework for simplifying data center transformation.  This model is applicable to both business  (enterprise), public sector (e.g. government, federal) and service provider (incl telco) organizations.

Today I will summarize some key challenges that you should consider when planning a transition to cloud (as one example of data center transformation), for Domain #1 -- Facilities and Infrastructure.

Cisco Domain Ten -- Simplifying Data Center Transformation

 

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Protect Data Centers with Cisco IPS: TechWiseTV Webinar

Data Centers are going through a rapid evolution due to industry trends of virtualization, cloud computing and bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives, putting an even greater strain on IT resources to secure the data, applications and access critical to the success of the business. Today’s data center must be secure and resilient to keep the enterprise running at maximum productivity; protecting its profitability and reputation.

The modern enterprise runs a wide array of commercial and customized applications, and the data within those applications is exactly what attackers are targeting. Those critical applications and servers within the data center continue to be the subject of targeted attacks and sophisticated malware. The 2012 Verizon Data Breach Report highlights that attacks against servers accounted for 94% of all data compromised last year. Strong security controls and visibility measures must be implemented to protect the integrity of the enterprise data center.

Click below to watch a Cisco TechwiseTV Workshop on protecting today’s data center using Cisco Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS).

http://www.cisco.com/go/semreg/urls/105149/2/000071953

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The Three Pillars to Cisco’s Secure Data Center Strategy: Part 3 Visibility

In this last part of this series I will discuss the top customer priority of visibility.  Cisco offers customers the ability to gain insight into what’s happening in their network and, at the same time, maintain compliance and business operations.

But before we dive into that let’s do a recap of part two of our series on Cisco’s Secure Data Center Strategy on threat defense. In summary, Cisco understands that to prevent threats both internally and externally it’s not a permit or deny of data, but rather that data needs deeper inspection. Cisco offers two leading platforms that work with the ASA 5585-X Series Adaptive Security Appliance to protect the data center and they are the new IPS 4500 Series Sensor platform for high data rate environments and the ASA CX Context Aware Security for application control.  To learn more go to part 2 here.

As customers move from the physical to virtual to cloud data centers, a challenge heard over is over is that they desire to maintain their compliance, security, and policies across these varying instantiations of their data center. In other words, they want to same controls in the physical world present in the virtual – one policy, one set of security capabilities.  This will maintain compliance, overall security and ease business operations.

By offering better visibility into users, their devices, applications and access controls this not only helps with maintaining compliance but also deal with the threat defense requirements in our overall data center.  Cisco’s visibility tools gives our customers the insight they need to make decisions about who gets access to what kinds of information, where segmentation is needed, what are the boundaries in your data center, whether these boundaries are physical or virtual and the ability to do the right level of policy orchestration to maintain compliance and the overall security posture.  These tools have been grouped into three key areas: management and reporting, insights, and policy orchestration.

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