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Security and the Board

Not long ago I was asked to attend a quarterly Board meeting of one of my healthcare clients and to present the recommendations of a Strategic Security Roadmap (SSR) exercise that my team and I had conducted for the organization. The meeting commenced sharply at 6am one weekday morning and I was allocated the last ten minutes to explain our recommendations and proposed structure for a revised Cybersecurity Management Program (CMP).


The client Director of Security and I waited patiently outside the Board Room while other board business was conducted inside. As is the case with many organizations, information security was not really taken seriously there, and the security team reported into IT way down the food chain, with no direct representation in the C Suite. The organization’s CMP had evolved over the years from anti-virus, patching and firewall management into other domains of the ISO27002 framework but was not complete or taken seriously by those at the top. Attempts at building out a holistic security program over the years had met with funding and staff resource constraints and Directors of Security had come and gone with nothing really changing. Read More »

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Concerns about the Department of Commerce’s Proposed Export Rule under the Wassenaar Arrangement

Today, Cisco filed comments on a Proposed Rule published by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in an effort to comply with an international agreement called the Wassenaar Arrangement. The proposal would regulate a wide array of technologies used in security research as controlled exports, in the same manner as if they were munitions. Cisco, along with many other stakeholders in the cybersecurity research field, has identified a number of significant concerns that we believe require BIS to revisit the text of the Proposed Rule.

BIS’ focus on limiting the cross-border trafficking of weaponized software is well-intentioned, but the current text would cause significant unintended consequences that must be addressed in a revised draft of the Proposed Rule. If implemented in its current form, the Proposed Rule would present significant challenges for security firms that leverage cross border teams, vulnerability research, information sharing, and penetration testing tools to secure global networks, including Cisco. The result would be to negatively impactrather than to improvethe state of cybersecurity.

The goal of regulating the export of weaponized software is understandable. However, many of the same techniques used by attackers are important to developers testing their defenses and developing new effective responses. Cisco needs access to the very tools and techniques that attackers use if we have any hope of maintaining the security of our products and services throughout their anticipated lifecycles. The development of new export control requirements must, therefore, be done carefully and based upon the needs of legitimate security researchers. Otherwise, we will leave network operators blind to the attacks that may be circulating in the criminal underground—and ultimately blind to the very weaponized software that the proposed rule intends to constrain.

The requirements in the Proposed Rule are far broader than necessary to address BIS’ stated intent—controlling the export of weaponized software. We look forward to working with the Department of Commerce to ensure that the goals of the proposal can be met in a manner that is technology neutral, narrowly tailored to the actual risks faced by the nation, and reflective of the needs of legitimate security researchers seeking to protect the information technologies upon which we increasingly rely.

We look forward to continuing the conversation.


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Creating an Intelligence-Led Security Organization

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Roland Cloutier, Global Chief Security Officer at ADP and former CISO at EMC, to discuss how they integrate and leverage threat intelligence into their security operations centers as well as their greater security technology infrastructure. It’s pretty rare for the CISO of a F500 company to discuss what technologies they use in such an open way, but it was really a testament to the trust they have for the solutions they have chosen. To hear Roland discuss it himself, watch the video at the end of this post or read the case study.

ADP had created a much more proactive, and dare I say “predictive” security program than most. They are consuming threat intelligence from numerous sources including AMP Threat Grid to create what Roland dubbed ‘intelligence-led decision making.’ How is this different from today? Most security organizations, whether it’s analysts in the Security Operations Center (SOC) or the <<other group>> tend to be in a very reactive mode. They see an alert pop up on screen and start to scramble. It’s tough to get ahead of the game when the technology you’ve invested in is merely a reactive one. Roland and his team have spent the time to develop and execute on a strategy that has flipped this model and puts them in a very proactive situation. So how have they done this? A few key elements: Read More »

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AMP Threat Grid Integrated with Email Security

We recently announced the release of AsyncOS 9.5 for Cisco Email Security that included the integration of AMP Threat Grid. Now if Threat Grid could talk it would sound a lot like Ron Burgundy and say “I’m not sure if you know this, but I’m kind of a big deal.” Email is consistently one of the top two threat vectors for malware because so many people out there still open an attachment that looks harmless from someone they don’t know. We all want to think we won a cruise, but that’s not how it works. It’s how malware establishes a foothold on your system. AMP Threat Grid is there to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Cisco acquired Threat Grid to not only bolster its suite of advanced threat solutions, but to also integrate the technology into its advanced malware protection (AMP) products. AMP Threat Grid goes far beyond traditional sandboxing, providing a host of analytical engines to evaluate potential malware. From static and dynamic analysis to various post-processing techniques, AMP Threat Grid evaluates malware to provide the most comprehensive report for even the most junior security analysts. This video provides a more comprehensive overview. Those familiar with Cisco’s Email Security know we already had a sandbox built in and may ask ‘Why change?’ and that’s exactly the question you want to ask. There are really three key reasons: Read More »

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Microsoft Patch Tuesday – July 2015

Today, Microsoft has released their monthly set of security bulletins designed to address security vulnerabilities within their products. This month’s release sees a total of 14 bulletins being released which address 57 CVEs. Four of the bulletins are listed as Critical and address vulnerabilities in Windows Server Hyper-V, VBScript Scripting Engine, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and Internet Explorer. The remaining ten bulletins are marked as Important and address vulnerabilities in SQL Server, Windows DCOM RPC, NETLOGON, Windows Graphic Component, Windows Kernel Mode Driver, Microsoft Office, Windows Installer, Windows, and OLE.

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