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4 Ways Women Can Be a Ninja at Work

I recently became a Ninja. That’s right. A Cisco Security Ninja. You can be a Ninja too!

Ninja fun

Satyapriya Sharma has a little fun with her new Security Ninja achievement.

The Cisco Security Ninja Program ( confirms lessons learned and challenges participants to reach for higher degrees of competence and proficiency in product security. The program offers four distinct “belt” levels, each one increasing your security knowledge and furthering your career at Cisco.

  • While Belt takes you through the basic security concepts and principles.
  • Green Belt is where you take the basic concepts and tell how you are use them in your daily work whether you are a developer, tester, manager.
  • Advanced belts – Blue and Brown, Here’s where you execute on those concepts and think about security for everything you do.
  • Black Belt Like karate, this belt recognizes you as a security leader who will provide ongoing, significant contributions both internally at Cisco and externally in the industry.

“Get your Security White Belt” – was the first thing teams told me when I joined Security Business Unit more than a year ago. There was a Business Unit initiative to have everyone be White-Belt certified. So I got into the groove of things and earned my While Belt and Green Belt (Mangers) within the first month of joining. At that moment, I challenged my team to be the first whole team under our SVP that would be Green-Belt certified. We all worked hard together and achieved that Milestone! By that time advanced level ninja certifications (Blue, Brown and Black Belts) registration had started and I registered for Blue Belt. It took two months to earn it.

At this time, I started mentoring my team and others to achieve this milestone in their development as well. Then came the Brown Belt and I submitted my work for Black Belt. I had to wait for few weeks before I heard from the Security Ninja Program Submission Committee who set up a call with me to go over my submission. They told me that I am the only manager who has applied for the black belt outside of the team that created the program!

Security Ninja Satya Chhabra

Satyapriya Sharma earned her ninja status, and wants to encourage other women to be ninjas at work.

I didn’t think much of it at that time, but once I got the email that I had earned my Black Belt – it started to sink in  – the only manager in the whole of CISCO to earn it. Wait! That also meant the only female manager in whole of CISCO to earn it. YAHOOOOOO !!!!! I couldn’t wait to share the news with everyone :) especially my Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) team.

I got a lot of support from my family and the management team to reach this milestone. Being in Security Business Unit certainly helped me earn the certificates faster since I live and breathe this stuff daily!

I want to use what I learned from this experience to encourage other women, not only at Cisco, but in technology everywhere to push ahead for these expert certifications. Here are four pieces of advice to become a Ninja in your space:

  1. Be patient and don’t give up! Getting these certifications was hard work and takes time.
  2. Don’t put your own development on the back burner. Due to tight timelines and commitments and work-life juggling we put our development on the back burner –make your development plan with your management, talk to your family and give yourself ample time to get to the milestone so it’s not stressful.
  3. Block time on your calendar each week if you have to. For Green Belt, I used to do one module a day after my daughter would go to sleep.
  4. Get a mentor. Seek help from someone from your site/business unit if needed. I am happy to help as well. Please feel free to each out. J

Always remember – if I can do it so can you.

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#ILookLikeAnEngineer – Cisco style!

The #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag is the diversity sensation that’s sweeping the nations!

The hashtag started as a way to break down stereotypes as to what an engineer might look like. It’s not just nerdy guys. It’s women, minorities; heck, ANYONE can be an engineer or interested in technology.

We gathered all of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer posts from our wonderfully diverse group of Cisco engineers and put them in a Storify. Because we’re proud of being a family that is inclusive of all. We wanted to highlight our engineers, and inspire others to join our technology revolution!

If you haven’t already, share your #ILookLikeAnEngineer posts on Twitter/Instagram!

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Cisco-Supported Program Receives Public Service Award

This post was written by guest blogger Alex Belous, Education Portfolio Manager for Cisco Systems and the Cisco Foundation. Alex Belous

Each year, more than 1.4 million people visit the Museum of Science, Boston, where they marvel at exhibits covering everything from aviation to evolution. In 2004, the museum launched the National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®), a program designed to teach visitors about science and engineering.

Shortly after, the NCTL recognized the need to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and launched Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) in 2005, a project that sparks students’ interest in STEM and helps children in grades 1 through 8 develop engineering and technological literacy.

The NCTL recently received the National Science Board’s (NSB) 2015 Public Service Award, which acknowledged the center’s pioneering work in engineering education curricula for K-12 schools nationwide.

At EiE, students take part in fun, engaging STEM activities (Photo courtesy Boston Museum of Science)

At EiE, students take part in fun, engaging STEM activities (Photo courtesy Boston Museum of Science)

“The center’s innovative exhibits, programs and curricular projects have brought engineering, technology and science to millions of students across the country and provided teachers with the professional training they need for the 21st Century classroom,” said Vint Cerf, chair of NSB’s Committee on Honorary Awards.

Since 2005, Cisco has supported the NCTL’s Engineering is Elementary program with $2.1 million in cash and product grants. Through the support of Cisco and other sponsors, the program has grown to be the nation’s most widely used elementary engineering curriculum, reaching 77,000 educators and 7.7 million children nationwide since its release in 2005.

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Angling for Silverlight Exploits

VRT / TRACThis post is co-authored by Andrew Tsonchev, Jaeson Schultz, Alex Chiu, Seth Hanford, Craig Williams, Steven Poulson, and Joel Esler. Special thanks to co-author Brandon Stultz for the exploit reverse engineering. 

Silverlight exploits are the drive-by flavor of the month. Exploit Kit (EK) owners are adding Silverlight to their update releases, and since April 23rd we have observed substantial traffic (often from Malvertising) being driven to Angler instances partially using Silverlight exploits. In fact in this particular Angler campaign, the attack is more specifically targeted at Flash and Silverlight vulnerabilities and though Java is available and an included reference in the original attack landing pages, it’s never triggered.

Rise in Angler Attacks

HTTP requests for a specific Angler Exploit Kit campaign

Exploit Content Type

Angler exploit content types delivered to victims, application/x-gzip (Java) is notably absent


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“Wow, I had no idea Cisco had these products”

As the product owner, one comment I get most of all is “Wow, I had no idea Cisco had these products“. This is the case even though we ship well over 20 million switch ports delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue per year in this portfolio – to customers in all geographies, markets, verticals, and customer types.

Which products are we talking about? It’s the Cisco SMB portfolio.

See what independent testing agency, Miercom, found when they compared Cisco 300 Series Switches (SG300) to other switches in the market from competitors – Miercom lab test report.

Cisco was top performer in the test in Performance, Energy Efficiency, Usability, Capacity/Scale, Feature/functionality, and was the most Economical. For further dialog around this report, see the following link for more details: Competitive dialog on the Miercom test report.

Almost identical results were found when comparing the Cisco 500 Series Switches (SG500) to other Stackable switches in the market from competitors – Results from Stackable Switch Lab Test Report.

 “We were impressed with the comprehensive set of features, performance, overall power efficiency, and ease-of-use of the Cisco switches”

– Rob Smithers, CEO, Miercom (Miercom report: DR120119C)

Over this last year, here’s a small sampling of additional features Cisco has added to the 300 Series portfolio in addition to what has been tested in the Miercom lab (a free software download for customers, I might add):

  • Web-based Authentication – Provides network admission control through a web browser to any host devices and operating systems
  • IPv6 First Hop Security – Protection against man-in-the-middle attack, malicious or rogue devices, and IP address theft
    • RA Guard
    • ND Inspection
    • DHCPv6 Guard
    • Neighbor Binding Integrity
  • UDLD – detect unidirectional links caused by incorrect wiring or cable/port faults to prevent forwarding loops and black-holing of traffic in switched networks.
  • Time-based POE – time-based shutdown of ports or POE for operational cost savings

Here’s a list 100+ intelligent features many/most of which are not present in the corresponding competitive products. Read it and decide for yourself: Detailed feature differentiators post.

 So more features means it costs more, right? Nope. These Cisco switches are actually just as affordable—and in many/most cases, even more affordable — than Competitive switches. See for yourself. Here’s a few examples of comparable products you can look up:

  • Cisco SG300-28 versus HP 2530-24G (J9776A) – $513 versus $724
  • Cisco SG300-52 versus HP 2530-48G (J9775A) – $910 versus $1,129
  • Cisco SG300-28PP versus HP 2530-24G-POE+ (J9773A) – $876 versus $1,218
  • Cisco SG300-52P versus HP 2530-48G-POE+ (J9772A)- $1,232 versus $2,324

(Prices collected on CDW Website on 2/20/2014) 

300 Series Family MR


But don’t stop there. Have a look at the features and pricing for rest of the Cisco Small Business portfolio. You will see very similar results in other parts of the portfolio as well (For example, compare Cisco SF500 switches against HP 2620 series). By the way, these Cisco switches come with a Limited Lifetime Warranty, which includes next business day (NBD) advanced replacement as part of the product – no need to purchase a separate Service contract to get this. We can only do this since we truly stand behind these products.

“Cisco has raised the bar for this product category”

Kevin Tolly, founder, The Tolly Group (See Link)

Bet you didn’t know many of these things as well. Awareness is the biggest problem for this portfolio. So, let’s change this to “Did you know Cisco had these products?”.



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