Early this week, there was much buzz and speculation about how Cisco and Citrix will be doing business differently. The news was finally unveiled at Mark Templeton’s keynote, when he introduced Cisco CTO, Padmasree Warrior, and they jointly announced the expansion to the two companies’ current partnership on three strategic areas: cloud networking, cloud orchestration and mobile workstyles. Details are outlined in this press release.
Ask anyone in the information security field they will tell you:
Security is not fair. There is essentially an unlimited supply of attackers that can test your defenses with impunity until they eventually succeed.
As a member of the Cisco Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) I’ve seen this asymmetry up close, so I can tell you that good security is really hard. Besides the normal security practices like deploying firewalls, IDS sensors, antivirus (AV), and Web Security Appliances, CSIRT is increasingly looking to the network as a data source. We have been collecting NetFlow for years but we have always wanted additional context for the flow data. While it is true that the Internet is built on TCP/IP, Internet services—both good and bad—are found by name using the Domain Name System (DNS). For years infosec has been network-address-centric and the attackers have adapted. Today it is very common to see malware command and control (C&C) use domain generation algorithms (DGAs), Peer-to-Peer (P2P), or even fast-flux DNS to evade IP address-based detection and blocking. It has become absolutely clear that to keep up with the latest attacks and attackers you must have a view into the DNS activity on your network.
CSIRT has been struggling with limited DNS information for a while now, so I am pleased to say we finally have comprehensive visibility into the DNS activity on our network. Before I dive into how we tackled this problem I should back up and explain a bit more about DNS…
The Cisco Security Intelligence Operations (SIO) Portal is the primary outlet for Cisco’s security intelligence and the public home to all of our security-related content. This content ranges from Event Responses () to IntelliShield Alerts () to Cisco product Security Advisories (). The SIO Portal is intended to be the first place you visit when looking for security information from Cisco.
Customer input is very important to us. With this in mind, we’ve launched two new customer listening tools on the SIO Portal: an enhanced feedback mechanism and a short six-question survey.
It was about a year ago that Dr. Yannis Viniotis, Professor of the Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) department at North Carolina State University (NCSU), met with senior Cisco Engineers and agreed to collaborate on several small, hands-on projects with Cisco Engineers and NCSU students.
The NCSU ECE department partners with the industry as part of their Senior Design Project Program, where various vendors serve as sponsors and offer several projects for NCSU students to complete. That is also how the Cisco-NCSU collaboration started. Students get to work on real networking industry problems guided by engineers that already work in the industry. The students gain experience that can be later used in their professional lives. The Cisco engineers get to work with future engineers, mentoring and preparing them for their professional lives and solving some real world technical challenges. It is fun and educational for both sides.
The raw, edgy nature of social media is part of its charm, and its value. As Cisco’s global threat analyst, I often look at my Twitter feed in the morning before I check mainstream media sites because it provides quick, frequently expert, irreverent analysis on breaking news. In fact, my own concerns about press freedom and objectivity stemming from concentration of mass media ownership arguably strengthens the case for a lively, unregulated social media space. It can serve as a fact checker and whistle blower on traditional news sources. In societies where news outlets may be closely monitored or controlled by the state, social media may provide the only online outlet for uncensored public opinion.
Unfortunately, social media is frequently inaccurate or misleading, with the potential for real-world damage. It isn’t hard to imagine a scenario in which a terrorist coordinates on-the-ground attacks with misleading tweets with the intent to clog roads or phone lines, or send people into the path of danger. Several recent incidents underscore the ease with which social media rumors can compound the impact of real events.