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Missing the Mark on Cloud-based Intelligence

This week, Juniper Networks announced a new cloud-based threat intelligence service focused on fingerprinting attackers’ individual devices. We’d like to officially welcome Juniper to the cloud-based security intelligence market—a space where Cisco has a proven track record of leadership through Security Intelligence Operations (SIO). Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, but in Juniper’s case, they entered the market years late and with limited visibility.

Let’s take a closer look at Juniper’s latest offering.

To start, here is what we know for certain: cyber threats take advantage of multiple attack vectors, striking quickly or lurking for days, months and even years inside your network. Not only this, but the Cisco 2013 Annual Security Report showcases how the web is an equal opportunity infector, with cyber threats crossing national, geographic and organizational boundaries as quickly and easily as users can click on a link. Security solutions must understand the attacks and infrastructure they are launched from, with tracking individual hackers doing far less for your defenses than blocking malicious activity being actively distributed over the network.

The Problem of Visibility

When a detective walks onto a crime scene, they don’t just focus on one thing. The only way to understand an event is to look at the entire scene: interview witnesses, check the neighborhood and look into the history of everyone involved; in other words, context—or the “who, what, where and how” information using every available piece of data.

Just as a skilled investigator builds a holistic picture, security solutions are only as reliable as the intelligence they receive, with Juniper’s being limited by the number of “honeypots” across their customer base. In network security, focusing on a single piece of information, a single attack vector, or one delivery mechanism misses the global visibility and context needed to stop advanced attacks. Cisco SIO powers our security solutions, receiving over 100 terabytes of network intelligence across 1.6 million deployed web, email, firewall and IPS devices. We correlate this data from physical, virtual and cloud-based solutions with a world-class threat research team, augmenting all of this with an ecosystem of third-party contributors. Fingerprinting is one small tool you should deploy in your arsenal, even though it has limited utility and perhaps even limited accuracy.

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Global Correlation: IPS + SIO = Greater Protection

The Cisco Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) includes Global Correlation capabilities that utilize real-world data from Cisco Security Intelligence Operations (SIO). We have seen on this blog before how IPS Global Correlation can be used to detect and validate the urgency of emergent threats as well as allow our team to hone the protection capabilities of our IPS Sensors.

Perhaps more fundamentally however, Global Correlation allows Cisco IPS Sensors to filter network traffic using the “reputation” of a packet’s source IP address. The reputation of an IP address is computed by Cisco SensorBase using the past actions of that IP address. IP reputation has been an effective means of predicting the trustworthiness of current and future behaviors from an IP address.

Our team has recently published a new white paper that explores the benefits of IPS Global Correlation and how they relate to various IPS deployment scenarios. I would like to share a couple of items from the white paper and encourage you to read it for more information.

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Intrusion Prevention – The Fundamentals

November 22, 2011 at 10:55 am PST


One of the greatest things about having an interest in security…is the fact that it never stops changing. Understanding how threats have evolved over time and getting a strong baseline introduction to this can really help you appreciate the unique combination of hardware, software and most importantly, services that Cisco brings to customers.  Cisco’s Security Intelligence Operations is, in my opinion, is a very under-marketed differentiator for us.  Network World did a fantastic feature on this: Inside Cisco Global Security Operations that is well worth the read. But to prep you for it…I must more strongly recommend 5 minutes of your time…

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