The workplace is changing fast. Workers are becoming increasingly mobile. The introduction of employee-owned consumer devices like tablets, is becoming the norm; in fact, the average number of devices used by knowledge workers is between 3 and 4 and rising. While IT organizations acknowledge the productivity, business agility and cost benefits these developments can bring, they are also concerned by the associated challenges. Not surprisingly, numerous industry research papers point to device, application and data security, and regulatory compliance as the biggest challenges for mobility and BYOD projects.
To address these security concerns many IT organizations are applying desktop virtualization or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technologies to ensure management and protection of the applications, data and content centrally in the data center, regardless of which device is used. But how can IT ensure that VDI deployments themselves are secure?
Today, Cisco announced new data center security enhancements that further protect VDI deployments. These new innovations enable more scalable, secure access to hosted virtual desktops and more robust protection of data center resources. These innovations also ensure that business critical applications and virtual desktops hosted within the data center can be better protected from other virtual desktops that have become compromised or infected. (Read also today’s blog from John N. Stewart , Cisco Sr.VP, Chief Security Officer “Does Virtualization Improve Security ? “)
Deploying a data center infrastructure that has the built-in security capabilities to address these challenges needs to be an integral part of any VDI design. The Cisco VXI Smart Solution is a comprehensive, secure desktop virtualization solution that addresses these security concerns in both Citrix XenDesktop and VMWare View deployments; you can find more information on the designs here.
It’s no secret that enterprise data centers are in a state of transformation – they always are. There’s a constant need to scale data center operations to meet the seemingly insatiable demand for connection and throughput speeds, as well as the number of concurrent sessions. In fact, experts anticipate that these performance demands will increase by as much as 30X over the next few years. While that statistic alone is remarkable enough, that’s just part of the story. Adding to the dramatic changes is the trend toward virtualization – with over half of all workloads expected to be virtualized by next year; and the fact that employees currently use an average of more than three mobile devices to access enterprise networks.
All of these trends are fundamentally changing data center operations today. And while the obvious impact of these changes is the need for performance scalability to meet the increasing demands, they also inherently change how data centers are secured. It’s this second impact that is often overlooked. While security is certainly important to data center administrators, it isn’t their only concern. Oftentimes their primary focus is maintaining business-IT alignment and avoiding chokepoints that can degrade performance and jeopardize their SLAs. As a result, security is frequently put on the backburner while the entire operation continues to upscale – opening the door to the perfect storm for a major security breach.
Unfortunately, most security products are “bolted on” as an afterthought, so they’re not capable of meeting the robust and dynamically changing needs of enterprise data centers. But Cisco handles security very differently than the rest of the industry. By leveraging the SecureX Architecture, Cisco security solutions are built into the network fabric. 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic and 35 percent of the world’s email traffic flows through Cisco networks, putting Cisco in the best position to see and proactively protect against threats before they affect customers’ networks. Cisco gains intelligence from throughout the network to enable more informed security decisions, and has used that intelligence to integrate security throughout the network infrastructure to provide comprehensive policy enforcement.
To this end, today Cisco made a series of product announcements that help provide modern data centers with what they need to remain secure, while enabling them to meet their business needs:
Cisco ASA Software Release 9.0, which is a major release of the core operating system which powers the entire line of ASA security appliances, adding data center-class performance and next-generation firewall capabilities
The Cisco ASA 1000V Cloud Firewall, a new multi-tenant edge firewall that uses the same base ASA code that runs the physical ASA appliances, but is optimized for virtual and cloud environments
Cisco IPS 4500 Series Sensors, a new series of standalone enterprise-class IPS appliances that provide up to 10 Gbps of IPS throughput in a single blade –four times the performance density of the closest competitor
Cisco Security Manager 4.3, which delivers several important capabilities for up to an 80% improvement in operational efficiency, as well as northbound APIs that enable customers to more efficiently deploy comprehensive security solutions
With these new product announcements, in addition to the rest of the SecureX Architecture, Cisco makes security a deployment decision, just like the rest of your network, with consistent security that enables policies to work throughout hybrid environments – physical, virtual, and cloud. Because we’re part of the network fabric, rather than a bolted-on point product vendor, we deliver security when, where, and how you need it to deliver a flexible, comprehensive security solution. As a result, Cisco can provide high levels of network security, while enabling enterprise data centers to maintain business-IT alignment and avoid chokepoints that can degrade performance and jeopardize SLAs. And since we enable one layer of security policies to work throughout the hybrid environment, we provide a high level of security while significantly decreasing complexity.
We all know that the virtualization and cloud megatrend is a game changer for data centers, leading to profound shifts in everything from IT services and business models to architectures. Business benefits include reduced capital investments, new revenue growth opportunities, and the greater efficiency, agility and scalability demanded by globalization.
Enterprises have held back from making the transition to virtual and cloud environments primarily because of the inherent security risks and concerns.
Targeted attacks and security breaches are getting more sophisticated. The Verizon Security Threat Report for 2011 showed that 3.8 million records were stolen in 2010, and 94% of this data came from servers (an increase of 18%).
As security concerns are the primary barrier to making this transition from virtualized data center to cloud, we must rethink how security fits in to these new architectures and develop new security tools to ensure the secure transfer of information.
For enterprises to confidently seize the business benefits offered by data center virtualization and the cloud, security must be seen as the art of the possible, not as a hindrance.
Watch below as I explore the challenges and leading practices for securing virtualized environments today, and into the future.
Please join me also for a special webcast ”Defending the Data Center “ today at 10:00 am PDT /1:00 pm EDT /17:00 GMT -- To watch register here
There’s a natural struggle between those who write rules around compliance to a standard and those who must implement IT systems to ensure compliance with that standard. The former want to create guidelines rather than hard and fast requirements so there’s flexibility in how to achieve compliance. Plus, they want guidelines that allow for advances in technology. The latter want technical specificity – do X and become compliant.
With a compliance standard like PCI DSS, which specifies credit card information security requirements, there’s a great deal of technical specificity about what is required in order to become PCI DSS compliant. In fact, all but a handful of PCI DSS’s 211 sub-requirements call for specific technical actions. But even then, some PCI DSS sub-requirements are subject to interpretation by the various auditing authorities.
Most compliance mandates, especially those imposed by governments, aren’t as cut and dried as PCI DSS and they always include many specific requirements around acceptable compliant behavior in addition to non-specific requirements around technology-oriented compliant safeguards.
The privacy and security of health information in the U.S. is governed by a Federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). As written, HIPAA is vague in many behavioral and technological areas. The law turned over “rule-writing,” whose aim is to provide more specificity, to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS wrote a key rule – the HIPAA Security Rule – that is relevant to information security professionals.
But alas, even the HIPAA Security Rule is ambiguous! Read More »
The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council (SSC) is an open global forum for the ongoing development, enhancement, storage, dissemination, and implementation of security standards for account data protection. According to the PCI SSC, 2012 is a critical year in the standards development process that hinges on feedback from the PCI community.
Getting the latest information about the PCI Data Security Standard (DSS) is vital as products and technologies continue to change at a rapid pace. Being part of the conversations, networking with like-minded professionals, and interacting directly with payment card brands are just a few of the benefits of attending the sixth annual PCI SSC North American Community Meeting. The meeting runs September 12—14, 2012 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida.