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Trust and Transparency

In our increasingly interconnected world, the Internet of Everything is making trust a critical element of how people use network-connected devices to work, play, live, and learn. The relentless rise in information security breaches underscores the deep need for enterprises to trust that their systems, data, business partners, customers, and citizens are safe.” – John N. Stewart, SVP and Chief Security and Trust Officer at Cisco

Trust and security is more important than ever before throughout the industry. Why aren’t customers explicitly demanding it be in all their IT systems? Why aren’t they demanding software developed with processes and technologies that drive security into all aspects of IT systems they buy? Why aren’t they demanding supply chain security and strong data protection? In short, why aren’t they demanding IT vendors produce more robust and secure solutions? Read More »

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No Such Thing as Implicit Trust

News has not been kind to US headquartered technology companies over the past year.  From an erosion of faith because of a company’s geographic location, to a series of high profile breaches that are calling into question trust in your IT systems. Technology providers and governments have a vital role to play in rebuilding trust.  And so do customers—who need to demand more from their technology providers.

In my recent trip to Europe, and speaking to some balanced, thoughtful, and concerned public officials, it got me thinking.  Why do we trust the products we use? Is it because they work as advertised? Is it because the brand name is one we implicitly believe in for any number of reasons? Is it because the product was tested and passed the tests? Is it because everyone else is using it so it must be okay? Is it because when something goes wrong, the company that produced it fixes it? Is it because we asked how it was built, where it was built, and have proof?

That last question is the largest ingredient in product and service acquisition today, and that just has to change. Our customers are counting on us to do the right thing, and now we’re counting on them. It’s time for a market transition: where customers demand secure development lifecycles, testing, proof, a published remediation process, investment in product resilience, supply chain security, transparency, and ultimately – verifiable trustworthiness.

We saw some of this coming, and these are some of the principles I hear customers mention when they talk about what makes a trustworthy company and business partner. Starting in 2007, with a surge that began in 2009, we’ve systematically built these elements into our corporate strategy, very quietly, and now we want the dialogue to start.

I’m challenging customers to take the next step and require IT vendors to practice a secure development lifecycle, have a supply chain security program, and a public, verifiable vulnerability handling process.

I recently recorded the video blog above discussing what it means to be a trustworthy company.  I hope you will share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

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Heartbleed: Transparency for our Customers

We know that communicating quickly and openly about security vulnerabilities can result in a little extra public attention for Cisco. As a trustworthy vendor, this is something we’re happy to accept.

It’s recently been said that there is only one thing being discussed by IT security people right now – the OpenSSL heartbeat extension vulnerability (aka Heartbleed). As the guy responding to related media questions for Cisco, that certainly rings true.

This is an industry-wide issue affecting commonly-used, open source encryption software. Some of my colleagues recommended this blog or this blog for an overview of the topic.

Cisco was one of the first to provide a comprehensive update for our customers (April 9): OpenSSL Heartbeat Extension Vulnerability in Multiple Cisco Products. This advisory continues to be updated, and at the time of this posting was on its fourth version. It provides an overview of the topic, and a full list of the Cisco products confirmed as affected, remediated, or not affected. It also links to more information, including any available workarounds or free software updates.

Our customers can rely on the fact that our response will be managed according to our long-standing security disclosure policy. This means providing the best information we have, as quickly as possible, even if that information could be incomplete at the time. As we continue to make progress, we will continue to update our public-facing information.

To our customers: we recommend staying connected to this information, and consider any implications for your network.

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