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ITD: Load Balancing, Traffic Steering & Clustering using Nexus 5k/6k/7k

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Data traffic has grown dramatically in the recent years, leading to increased deployment of network service appliances and servers in enterprise, data center, and cloud environments. To address the corresponding business needs, network switch and router architecture has evolved to support multi-terabit capacity. However, service appliance and server capacity remained limited to a few gigabits, far below switch capacity.

Cisco Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) is an innovative solution to bridge the performance gap between a multi-terabit switch and gigabit servers and appliances. It is an hardware based multi-terabit layer 4 load-balancing, traffic steering and clustering solution on the Nexus 7000 and 7700 series of switches.

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Old and Persistent Malware

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Malware can find its way into the most unexpected of places. Certainly, no website can be assumed to be always completely free of malware. Typically, there are many ways that websites can be compromised to serve malware:
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You Can’t Protect What You Can’t See

The title seems like a simple enough concept, but when it comes to advanced threat protection, truer words were never written. This concept of visibility into your network, which in turn enables better protection and control of your network, is at the heart of Cisco’s Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System (NGIPS). Visibility is what feeds critical capabilities in the solution and it’s also what sets our NGIPS apart from other IPS products.

In the coming weeks, we’ll focus on different aspects of our market-leading NGIPS solution, as recognized by third-party groups such as Gartner and NSS Labs, but since NGIPS is all about threat protection – and you can’t protect what you can’t see – let’s start with visibility.

Historically, IPS products have provided visibility into network packets to be able to identify and block network attacks. The last couple of years have seen next-generation firewalls get a lot of industry buzz by providing visibility (and subsequent control) into applications and users.

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IE Zero Day – Managed Services Protection

As of May 1, 2014, we can confirm Cisco customers have been targets of this attack. For the latest coverage information and additional details see our new post on the VRT blog.

Protecting company critical assets is a continuing challenge under normal threat conditions. The disclosure of zero-day exploits only makes the job of IT security engineers that much harder. When a new zero-day vulnerability was announced on April 26, 2014 for Microsoft Internet Explorer, corporate security organizations sprang into action assessing the potential risk and exposure, drafting remediation plans, and launching change packages to protect corporate assets.

Some companies however, rely on Managed Security Services to protect those same IT assets. As a Cisco Managed Security services customer, the action was taken to deploy updated IPS signatures to detect and protect the companies critical IT assets. In more detail, the IPS Signature team, as a member of the Microsoft Active Protections Program (MAPP), developed and released Cisco IPS signature 4256/0 in update S791 and Snort rules 30794 & 30803 were available in the ruleset dated 4-28-2014. The Cisco Managed Security team, including Managed Threat Defense, received the update as soon as it became available April 28th. Generally, Cisco Managed Security customers have new IPS signature packs applied during regularly scheduled maintenance windows. In the event of a zero-day, the managed security team reached out to customers proactively to advise them of the exploit and immediately were able to apply signature pack updates to detect and protect customer networks.

While corporate security organizations must still assess ongoing risks and direct overall remediations to protect corporate data, Cisco can take the actions to provide security visibility into the targeted attacks, increase protection with fresh signatures, and reduce risk profile for the corporate InfoSec program.

For more detail on the vulnerability, please see Martin Lee’s blog post.

More details about this exploit and mitigation information can be found on the following links:

For additional information about Cisco Managed Security solutions please refer to the following links and contact your Cisco Services sales representative:

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IWAN Wed: The Case for Direct Internet Breakout at Branch and IWAN

Simplify Branch Security with ISRCloud services and SaaS applications is enabling customers to accelerate their business processes and improve employee productivity while lowering their total IT spending. The Cisco IWAN solution is helping organizations adopt cloud applications with an improved user experience by enabling local internet breakout from the branch environment, thus helping eliminate the need to backhaul internet-bound traffic across the WAN link. This helps provide the user improved experience through lower latency for not only internet applications, but also free up bandwidth for application on the WAN link. The reduced WAN link usage also means lower IT spending those links.

However, a study commissioned by Cisco during Jan’14 from 641 customers from US and Europe on their MPLS usage and adoption of local internet breakout found that 68% of the customers responded that enabling direct internet access was an organizational focus for them.  However, 54% of the total respondents reported that lack of sufficient security at the branch environment hindered them from enabling local internet breakout at the branch. This was ranked as the #1 reason to not enable Direct Internet Access at branch sites.

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