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What Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the Internet of Things have in common

Cisco published earlier this week the 2013 Cisco Global IT Impact Survey, exploring the relationship between IT and the business goals of the companies they support.  Among other things, 42 percent of those interviewed responded that they know about the Internet of Things, “as well as I know Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.” In other words, beyond a passing knowledge of e=mc2, the relevance of the Internet of Things to IT is about as illuminated as a black hole.

Does that really matter at this point? you might ask.  Isn’t the Internet of Things about Nike FuelBands and talking toasters?  In fact, a lot of what we call “industrial automation” or “safety and security” is the leading edge of the Internet of Things.  It’s already here today, called into the service of greater efficiency, productivity, and safety.  This is “operational technology” instead of “information technology”:  in other words, technology that directly monitors or controls physical objects and processes, such as assembly lines on a factory floor.

This has enormous implications for IT:

1. Security threats go from the merely cyber to the cyber-physical. Gartner summed it up nicely in the WSJ last week.  And let’s not even talk about Shodan

2. Beyond BYOD.  The consumerization of personal electronic devices transformed the enterprise networking landscape.  IT adapted to the new security threats posed, figured out how to associate multiple devices to a single user, etc.  Now imagine “bring your own programmable logic controller.”

3. Redefining networking scalability and data management.  And we thought video was a huge driver of traffic on the network.  SAP and Harris Interactive recently estimated that 4 billion terabytes of data will be generated this year alone. (For some idea of the scale, take a single IoT use case — smart meters.  Jack Danahy estimated 400MB of data per year.  Not much, you say? Multiply that by, say, 1 million households, and you get 400 terabytes already. For a single use case. In one city.)

IT has much to offer, and should.  As proprietary connectivity networks converge onto TCP/IP, IT can bring its expertise in securing IP-based networks. With experience in deploying cloud services, IT can bring in network management best practices.  And with expertise in software-defined networking, IT can help re-architect networks to support immense scale, real-time requirements, analytics at the edge, and more.

From the outside-in, the Internet of Things may seem like a fast-moving train that’s zooming by too fast to board. But if you’re in IT, get on board: you’ll experience relativity and relevance.

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See How Organizations Use Cisco ISE to Centralize Policy and Secure Access

Activate the IT Transformation with Unified Access: Part 4 --  Centralized Policy, Control, and Enforcement 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013  10am-11am PDT     |       Register Now

With more users and devices being added to your network every day, unified access and central policy control have become critical needs. Your organization isn’t alone.

Attend our next live workshop  on May 15th to hear how organizations in education and healthcare rely on Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) to provide the identity enforcement and secure access control that allow employees, contractors, students, faculty, and guests (choose the user) to use their own devices on the network. Read More »

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Foundational Network Traffic Collection and Analysis Setup

This introductory post explains how one of Cisco’s security research groups established a network data collection capability for large amounts of network traffic. This capability was necessary to support research into selected aspects of the Domain Name Service (DNS), but it can be adapted for other purposes.

DNS exploitation is frequently the means by which malicious actors seek to disrupt the normal operation of networks. This can include DNS Cache Poisoning, DNS Amplification Attacks and many others. A quick search at cisco.com/security yields a lot of content published, indicating both the criticality and exposures associated with DNS.

Our research required the ability to collect DNS data and extract DNS attributes for various analytical purposes. For this post, I’ll focus on collection capabilities regarding DNS data. Read More »

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MDM and Cisco’s ISE?

May 7, 2013 at 10:03 am PST

Mobile Device Management or MDM is ideal for addressing many challenges inherent to our ‘Bring your own Device’ culture. MDM can help enforce policy for mobile devices but when you look closer, you begin to realize it does not solve everything. The challenge is when we ask our MDM technology to make policy decisions out of context.

Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE) offers centralized policy and network intelligence as an MDM compliment for a complete security solution

This is where Cisco comes in with ISE or the Identity Services Engine. We did a Fundamentals of ISE awhile back that still serves as a great backdrop for getting your head around it. ISE is frequently lauded for its ability to provide a single repository for all the potentially complex rules and regulations we need on our network. The point right now however is ensuring we know where ISE begins/ends in reference to MDM. Neither can act completely alone and accomplish everything most customers are hoping for in a BYOD solution especially. But where do we begin and end?

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Shedding More Light on MDM

May 7, 2013 at 5:00 am PST

My friends at Cisco’s TechWiseTV have taken MDM to heart and have offered some keen insight from a geek’s POV (point of view) into MDM. Starting with a primer on MDM, Networking 101: MDM, Jimmy Ray answers the questions on what is MDM and what can it do for my organization in his entertaining and educational white board approach.

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