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The Need To Solve for Time

Ponemon Institute called 2014 the year of the “Mega Breaches,” which will be remembered for its series of mega security breaches and attacks. These “Mega Breaches” are perfect examples of what is commonly known as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). The Ponemon Institute survey asked, among many questions, “When was the breach discovered?” Surprisingly, the results revealed that ONLY 2% of the respondents in the survey discovered their breach within one week of after the incident and a staggering 90% were six months or longer, if at all.

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The Network as a Security Sensor and Enforcer

The Digital Economy and the Internet of Everything means everything is now connected. Digitization is fundamentally transforming how we conduct business. It creates new opportunities to develop services and engage with employees, partners, and customers. It’s important to understand that digitization is also an opportunity for the hacking community, presenting new services, information, data, devices, and network traffic as attack targets. To take full advantage of the digitization opportunity, security must be everywhere, embedded into and across the extended network – from the data center to the mobile endpoints and onto the factory floor.

Today, Cisco is announcing enhanced and embedded security solutions across the extended network and into the intelligent network infrastructure. These solutions extend security capabilities to more control points than ever before with Cisco FirePOWER, Cisco Cloud Web Security or Cisco Advanced Malware Protection. This is highlighted in Scott Harrell’s blog. We are also transforming the Cisco network into two roles: as a sensor and as an enforcer of security.

The role of the Network as a Sensor The network provides broad and deep visibility into network traffic flow patterns and rich threat intelligence information that allows more rapid identification of security threats. Cisco IOS NetFlow is at the heart of the network as a sensor, capturing comprehensive network flow data. You can think of NetFlow as analogous to the detail you get in your monthly cellular phone bill. It tells you who talked to whom, for every device and user, for how long, and what amount of data was transferred – it’s metadata for your network traffic.

Visibility to network traffic through NetFlow is critical for security, as it serves as a valuable tool to identify anomalous traffic on your network. Watching NetFlow, we gain an understanding of the baseline traffic on the network, and can alert on traffic that is out of the ordinary.  The network is generating NetFlow data from across the enterprise network all the way down to the virtual machines in the data center.  This gives us visibility across the entire network, from the furthest branch office down to the east-west traffic in the data center.  Read More »

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Cisco Security Response Team Opens Its Toolbox

Cisco’s network is a massively complex environment that requires extensive monitoring and remediation. In today’s world of advanced threats and attacks, the company that possesses and positions its tools to preemptively identify and mitigate threats is the one left standing when the dust settles.

Cisco leverages its Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT), a global organization comprised of information security professionals, to monitor, investigate, and respond to cyber security incidents 24×7. The Cisco CSIRT team forms part of the investigative branch of Cisco’s Information Security organization, protecting Cisco from security threats and the loss of its intellectual assets.

With a variety of security tools, CSIRT is able to detect and analyze malicious traffic throughout the network, including virus propagation, targeted attacks, and commonplace exploits. Because CSIRT continually identifies new security threats, the team needs some historical look-back at what occurred on the network. They also need a solution that can dissect the finer details of security incidents while facing the ever-present restrictions with data storage. StealthWatch, a NetFlow monitoring solution from Cisco partner Lancope, contains unique storage, interactivity, and parsing capabilities, to provide a more concise set of data for analysis.

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Detecting Payment Card Data Breaches Today to Avoid Becoming Tomorrow’s Headline

TRACA few months ago we discussed the various ways that consumer PII is compromised. The recent attacks against Target and Neiman Marcus illustrate the constant threat that payment card accepting retailers of all sizes face. Yesterday Reuters reported that similar breaches over the holidays affected “at least three other well-known U.S. retailers”. Given the current onslaught, it’s a good time for retailers to examine their detection capabilities before a payment card data attack, while creating new goals for shortening remediation windows during and after an attack.

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Beware: Insider Threats Getting Worse

Most recently ESG/Vormetric came out with a threat report that highlighted the increase in insider threats & the significance to augment perimeter and host-based security. The rationale behind the increase was that more people are accessing the network, increase cloud and network traffic are making it difficult to isolate the problem.

Almost 50% of the organizations believe they are vulnerable to insider attacks and have or plan to invest dollars.

This is alarming!

The top methods noted for these insider threat vulnerabilities were abuse of access by privileged users, contractors, and other employees. Security professionals are finding it quite difficult to monitor the users, traffic, ports, etc to identify and mitigate insider threats. They must glean this information from multiple sources and many times need to translate the data. For example, “whose IP address is this and why is Mary from finance, who is supposed to be on vacation, downloading data from the payroll server?” This process slows the resolution time. The criticality of this type of contextual information is enormous to remediate quickly.

Security needs to be pervasive and consistent to manage these inside threats—so how does one do this? Integrate security into your infrastructure (wireless, wired, VPN)! Once security is woven into your infrastructure it provides the visibility and clarity to respond in a timely manner with a high degree of efficacy and is not dependent on distinct and isolated ingress points.

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