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National Cybersecurity Center for Excellence: A Promising Fortress

It is one thing to recognize cyber threats and their potential to disrupt entire companies, agencies and institutions. It is another thing to do something about it. In light of recent threats we cannot sit still and wait for the next one.

On February 18, I was honored to join Governor O’Malley, Senator Mikulski, NIST director Pat Gallagher, and Montgomery County Chief Executive Ike Leggett in the partnership agreement signing ceremony to expand the National Cybersecurity Center for Excellence in Montgomery County.  Federal and Maryland officials signed the agreement with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg to develop new cybersecurity technology and educational opportunities. Read More »

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Accelerating Real World Cybersecurity Solutions Through Private-Public Partnerships

I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural signing of National Cybersecurity Excellence Partnership agreements yesterday. Key stakeholders in attendance included National Security Agency Director, General Keith Alexander, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Dr. Pat Gallagher of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and several members of the Cisco team.

Established in 2012 through a partnership between NIST, the State of Maryland, and Montgomery County, the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) was conceived to advance innovation through the rapid identification, integration, and adoption of practical cybersecurity solutions. NCCoE collaborates with industry leaders through its National Cybersecurity Excellence Partnership (NCEP) initiative to develop real-world cybersecurity capabilities.

As a NCEP member and key collaborator, Cisco is dedicated to furthering the mission of securing cyberspace for all. As part of this ongoing commitment, Cisco has launched the Threat Response, Intelligence and Development organization, focusing key resources around cyber security, threat mitigation and network defense for our customers. Read a blog from our CSO John Stewart about this new organization and its charter here. Read More »

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ASR 9000 Family earns IPv6 Certifications!

February 26, 2013 at 8:49 am PST

The Global Certification Team is proud to announce that the Cisco Aggregate Services Routers (ASR) 9000 series have completed USGv6 Certification on software version 4.2.1 or later, with USGv6 SMU.  The details of the certification can be found at

The Cisco ASR 9000 system incorporates innovative technologies such as Cisco Network Virtualization (nV) technology, which intelligently blends the edge, aggregation, and access points to simplify operation and accelerate IPv6 services. Two new nV enabled platforms provide additional flexibility and support to optimize service delivery.  More information can be found at

Get up to the minute updates on Cisco product certifications from the official GCT twitter, @CiscoCertTeam!


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Cisco Unified IP Phones earn FIPS Certification!

March 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm PST

The Global Certification Team is proud to announce the FIPS 140-2 Crypto certification of the 6900 and 7900 Series IP Phones.

The phones received FIPS certificate #1647 for Models 6901 and 6911 and Certificate #1650 for 6921, 6941, 6945, and 6961.  Finally the 7906G, 7911G, 7931G, 7941G, 7942G, 7945G, 7961G, 7961GE, 7962G, 7965G, 7970G, 7971G, 7971GE, and 7975G were awarded FIPS certificate #1689.

Take full advantage of converged voice and data networks while retaining the convenience and user-friendliness you expect from a business phone. Cisco Unified IP Phones can help improve productivity by meeting the needs of users throughout your organization. Advanced media endpoints in this innovative suite of Cisco Unified IP Phones enhance the end-user experience.

6900 Series on

7900 Series Phones on

FIPS-140 is a US and Canadian government standard that specifies security requirements for cryptographic modules. A cryptographic module is defined as “the set of hardware, software, and/or firmware that implements approved security functions (including cryptographic algorithms and key generation) and is contained within the cryptographic boundary.” The cryptographic module is what is being validated.

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Evolving Continuous Monitoring to a Dynamic Risk Management Strategy

Organizations implementing Continuous Monitoring strategies are remiss if they are not taking into account the value of network telemetry in their approach. NIST Special Publication 800-137, Information Security Continuous Monitoring for Federal Information Systems and Organizations provides guidance on the implementation of a Continuous Monitoring strategy, but fails to address the importance of network telemetry into that strategy. In fact the 38 page document only mentions the word “network” 36 times. The SP 800-137 instead focuses on two primary areas: configuration management and patch management.  Both are fundamental aspects of managing an organizations overall risk, but to rely on those two aspects alone for managing risk falls short of achieving an effective Continuous Monitoring strategy for the following reasons

First, the concepts around configuration and patch management are very component specific. Individual components of a system are configured and patched. While these are important the focus is on vulnerabilities of improper configuration or known weaknesses in software. Second, this approach presumes that with proper configuration control and timely patch management that the overall risk of exploitation to the organization’s information system is dramatically reduced.

While an environment that has proper configuration and patch management is less likely to be exposed to known threats, they are no more prepared to prevent or detect sophisticated threats based on unknown or day-zero exploits. Unfortunately, the customization and increase in sophistication of malware is only growing. A recent threat report indicated that nearly 2/3 of Verizon’s data breach caseload were due to customized malware. It is also important to keep in mind that there is some amount of time that passes between a configuration error is determined and fixed or the time it takes to patch vulnerable software. This amount of time can potentially afford an attacker a successful vector.  For these reasons organizations looking to implement a Continuous Monitoring strategy should depend on the network to provide a near real-time view of the transactions that are occurring. Understanding the behavior of the network is important to create a more dynamic risk management focused Continuous Monitoring strategy.

Network telemetry can consist of different types of information describing network transactions in various locations on the network. Two valuable telemetry sources are NetFlow and Network Secure Event Logging (NSEL). NetFlow is a mechanism that organizations can use to offer a more holistic view of the enterprise risk picture. NetFlow is available in the majority of network platforms and builds transaction records of machine-to-machine communications both within the enterprise boundary as well as connections leaving the enterprise boundary. These communication records provide invaluable information and identify both policy violations and configuration errors. Additionally, NetFlow also provides insight into malicious software communications and large quantities of information leaving an enterprise. Network Secure Event Logging uses the NetFlow protocol to transmit important information regarding activities occurring on enterprise firewalls. This is valuable data that can be aggregated with other NetFlow sources to bring additional context to the network behavior occurring.

Coupling the configuration and patch management guidance in SP 800-137 with an active NetFlow monitoring capability will provide organizations with a Continuous Monitoring strategy that is more system focused and more apt to fostering a dynamic risk management environment. Cisco will be discussing NetFlow, NSEL and other security topics at the March 21st,  Government Solutions Forum in Washington, D.C. If you’re interested in learning more, click on the following URL:

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