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Cisco Positioned as A Leader in the Gartner Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure Magic Quadrant

June 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm PST

Gartner has released their 2012 Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure Magic Quadrant.  Cisco is recognized as a leader in this highly anticipated publication.

Our industry is going through dramatic changes. The rapid growth of cloud, mobility and business collaborations has put more and more pressure on the network. Disparate wired and wireless networks architected and managed separately are no longer sufficient to meet the new demand. This is the first time that Gartner covers wired and wireless LAN infrastructure together in one Magic Quadrant. It is a clear sign that the time has come to evolve the network infrastructure to address the rapid growth of cloud, mobility and business collaborations with a unified approach.
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The Maginot Line and the TCP Sequence Number Inference Attack

In the recently posted research paper “Off-Path TCP Sequence Number Inference Attack: How Firewall Middleboxes Reduce Security“, Zhiyun Qian and Z. Morley Mao from the University of Michigan discuss a method to try to infer the sequence numbers in use by a TCP connection -- and if successful, how to try to hijack the connection and inject data on it in order to, as an example, steal credentials to web sites (banking, social networking, etc.)

Before talking further about their research, I would like to talk a bit about the Maginot Line. The Maginot Line was a line of fortifications located in France, established after World War I, and roughly following France’s borders with Germany and Italy. The idea behind it: in case of another war with Germany, the line would hold the enemy attacks, giving the French Army the chance to regroup and counterattack. The problem: the line only extended so far up North. So during World War II, and instead of attacking the line from the East, the German army completely bypassed it – by attacking Belgium first and then flanking the line.

So a lot of resources were allocated to set-up defenses for a very specific attack scenario – but that scenario never happened, as an easier way was found to bypass the defenses. And the mere fact of allocating so many resources to counter a specific threat significantly reduced the number of resources available to protect against other threats.

The method posited by Qian and Mao on their research paper strongly reminds me of the assumptions made by the French while building the Maginot Line.

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Next Generation Encryption Algorithms

Over the years, numerous cryptographic algorithms have been developed and used in many different protocols and functions. Cryptography is by no means static. Steady advances in computing and in the science of cryptanalysis have made it necessary to continually adopt newer, stronger algorithms, and larger key sizes. Older algorithms are supported in current products to ensure backward compatibility and interoperability. However, some older algorithms and key sizes no longer provide adequate protection from modern threats and should be replaced.

Over the years, some cryptographic algorithms have been deprecated, “broken,” attacked, or proven to be insecure. There have been research publications that compromise or affect the perceived security of almost all algorithms by using reduced step attacks or others (known plaintext, bit flip, and more). Additionally, every year advances in computing reduce the cost of information processing and data storage to retain effective security. Because of Moore’s law, and a similar empirical law for storage costs, symmetric cryptographic keys must grow by 1 bit every 18 months. For an encryption system to have a useful shelf life and securely interoperate with other devices throughout its life span, the system should provide security for 10 or more years into the future. The use of good cryptography is more important now than ever before because of the very real threat of well-funded and knowledgeable attackers.

Next Generation Encryption (NGE) technologies satisfy the security requirements described above while using cryptographic algorithms that scale better. For more information on Legacy, Acceptable, Recommended and NGE algorithms that should be avoided or used in your networks, you can refer to our latest Whitepaper.

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Are You Aware of the Dangers Lurking in Free Apps?

Though fun and even useful, free apps can pose security risks to your users and your business

The old adage “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” has more than a kernel of truth to it when it comes to free applications. Free apps seem harmless, and they’re very tempting. Who doesn’t want a free version of Angry Birds? What’s wrong with a free banking app from your credit card company? But even if the app itself is legitimate and thoroughly vetted, it can still pose a security risk to the device it’s running on. Free apps are more dangerous to your employees and your network than they appear at first glance.

People can easily download a wide range of free apps for their smartphones and tablets as well as for your company’s computers. From wildly popular games like Angry Birds Space (which was downloaded three million times in only three days) to fitness trackers and social media tools, there’s a free app for anything anyone would want to do on his or her mobile device. Likewise, the Internet is teeming with free apps to customize desktops and work more easily. But the problem with free is that the program use is almost always paid for through advertising or information gathering—and it’s in those aspects where the danger often lies. Read More »

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Network Threat Defense, Countermeasures, and Controls @ Cisco Live 2012-San Diego!

Criminals continue to evolve as does the threat landscape. Their targets are your business assets and disrupting the availability of your business operations. Why you ask? Well, it depends on what you have to offer and its value, or who you may have negatively provoked. The risk, impact, and amount of exposure will vary from incident to incident. Some questions to think about. Read More »

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