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Branch Direct Internet Access: is your branch office secure?

With the recent launch of FirePower Threat Defense on Cisco 4000 Series Integrated Services Routers, I would like to spend some time talking about enterprise branch security and what are the requirements to keep in mind to secure your branch office. Let’s start out by examining your branch environment.

What’s happening at the branch today?

Cloud is redefining application delivery. Mobility is redefining network architecture. Next generation applications like Ultra High Definition videos, Web, and SaaS applications put increased pressure on bandwidth availability.

Organizations may be considering Direct Internet Access (DIA) at the branch to leverage local internet path for public cloud and internet access. Leveraging the local internet path at the branch reduces IT spending (freeing up costly WAN bandwidth for mission critical applications) and ensures better application experience, for example for applications hosted in the public cloud (less latency)  but it may come with a cost since now the branch may be exposed to security threats. Read More »

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Passpoint™ Wi-Fi and CMX Connect – Seamless and Secure

Throughout the next couple of months, I’ve decided to blog about the great technology Passpoint™ Wi-Fi and how CMX Connect can help. Since this is a series of blogs I’d like to focus this first installment primarily on what Passpoint Wi-Fi is. First thing to understand about Passpoint is that it is an industry standard that allows devices to connect to hotspots effortlessly and securely. Because of this, it’s a technology that businesses (and its customers) have long been waiting for.

The following charts depict top barriers for wider adoption, implementation and usage of Guest Wi-Fi. As you can see the seamless authentication is the top barrier.


I’m personally excited about Passpoint because of the seamless authentication and security it provides. For example, today’s mobile banking apps have become so easy to use that desktop versions seem difficult to use in comparison. My bank’s app even allows me to take a photo of a check and directly deposit the funds to my account within a matter of seconds. However, I’m only comfortable with mobile banking when using my home or office Wi-Fi because I know they’re WPA2 encrypted. Accessing private financial information is definitely not something I’m comfortable with within a public venue, using an unknown Wi-Fi portal.

So while the idea of providing guests with Wi-Fi is a generous one, using it can actually put personal information and devices at risk. Guest Wi-Fi is almost always open and rarely secured at Layer 2 due to the fact that deployment and operation is difficult when username/password or certificates are required. Furthermore, if a business uses username/password to secure their guest Wi-Fi they’re left with the challenge of knowing how to smoothly create and distribute user credentials without losing the guests’ attention.

The process of accessing Guest Wi-Fi for me, and many out there, is less than appealing because of these security issues and the lengthy process they require before allowing access the Internet. To combat this, businesses need to provide guests with a no-hassle way to maintain and distribute credentials to the guests using Layer 2 secured Guest Wi-Fi. This is where Passpoint comes into play.

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint will transform the way users connect to Wi-Fi hotspot networks by making the process of finding and getting access to the right network seamless…when you are in a Passpoint-enabled hotspot, you’ll discover a newly smooth connectivity experience.” Read More »

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Customer Perspective: 5 Retail Trends Driving Wi-Fi

This is the type of post that gets me excited. Today, I’m happy to feature a special customer guest author: Andrew vonNagy, CCIE #28298 (Wireless), and currently Technical Architect for a Fortune 50 retail company. Many of you may know Andrew from his active blog, Revolution Wi-Fi,  or his Twitter feed: @revolutionwifi. Stay with us over the next two weeks as Andrew offers his take on the intersection of Retail and the Wireless LAN industry.

Retail Wi-Fi networks have long been dominated by inventory management applications and services that enabled a more productive workforce and leaner operations. However, brick-and-mortar retail is being disrupted due to the explosive growth from pure e-commerce competitors offering [often] lower prices and a more personalized shopping experience. In addition, the e-commerce sales channel offers deeper product information, community reviews, and greater levels of localization and customization that resonate with consumers.

Brick and mortar retail must adapt to compete in this new environment. A key component of this adaptation is delivering new IT solutions while leveraging the physical assets of the storefront, mixing the benefits of in-store product “touch-and-feel” with the personalization of e-commerce shopping. Merging these two worlds together will create an enhanced shopping experience through the use of mobile Internet devices, often connected through Wi-Fi networks.

This week, we will cover the first of 5 trends driving Wi-Fi growth and new capabilities in retail organizations:

Trend 1: Consumer Interaction and Business Analytics

Physical retailers have the most influence over consumer purchase decisions in the store, when they are standing in front of the product they are weighing whether or not to buy. Historically, this has been through in-aisle marketing and signage. However, customers are increasingly equipped with mobile Internet access and turning to external sources of information in real-time while within a retail store. This has been coined the emergence of the “smart shopper”. These external sources of information are much more comprehensive than what the retailer can provide through traditional in-aisle marketing and signage, and this leaves the physical retailer at a big disadvantage.

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