I was recently introduced to Dave McGrew – Cisco’s version of Yoda!

This unassuming, humble engineer looks like a geography teacher and is the kind of guy who creates encryption algorithms in his spare time as a hobby – just like we might do crosswords (OK, I don’t do crosswords but you get my point).

However, Dave is a Cisco Fellow – to put this in perspective Cisco has over 20,000 world-class engineers but it only has about 15 Fellows – these guys are the elite. And Dave has just invented something totally new.

So why should you be interested in Dave and what he and his wider team have done? Well, Dave has just invented a truly ground breaking product – Encrypted Traffic Analytics (ETA). OK, so you may be losing interest already but stay with it.


What is Encrypted Traffic Analytics?

In a connected world, businesses are trying to find the balance between user privacy and security. More and more network traffic is encrypted as people and businesses try to keep their data private and secure as it travels through the network. However, this creates a problem for Cyber Security teams who are trying to keep their Banks and Insurance companies safe from attack because increasingly cyber criminals are placing malware into encrypted traffic. This means the security team has to either reject encrypted traffic for further investigation, slowing down business, or allow it through and increase the risk of a breach.

Previously this was an unsolvable problem – not now!

With Encrypted Traffic Analytics, your network managers and security teams can analyze encrypted traffic to see if it contains malware without decryption – the data stays encrypted. Using Cisco threat intelligence capabilities and machine learning this solution learns what malware to look out for and know how to detect it.

To explain it in non-techie language…

Think of data packets like your suitcases when you fly around the world. If you don’t want anyone else to see in your case, you lock it with a big padlock. However, airline security needs to know what is in the case to keep everyone safe but doesn’t want to open every locked case. So it uses scanners to check that the suitcase doesn’t contain guns, liquids etc. without having to open the case. ETA does the same with encrypted network traffic – analyzes it for malware without opening the packet.

In banking and insurance, this is a major step forward. Customers and third parties are increasingly interacting with us using encrypted messages – especially as everyone is worried about privacy and data security. Now customers and third parties can continue to act in this way while the organization can ensure that this increased privacy and security does not come at the expense of their network integrity or cyber security – no hidden malware sneaking in under the cover of encrypted traffic.

This is very relevant in Financial Services as we look after our customers’ most treasured assets – their data and their digital money. A breach of a bank or insurance company is a serious breach of trust – a valuable commodity in financial services.

Why should you care if you don’t work in IT?

Now, this encrypted data traffic can travel more quickly and more safely which improves customer service while keeping our organizations and customers safe. It creates a good balance between user privacy and cyber security.

To learn more about this groundbreaking development, please view this white paper.



Simon Blissett

Head of FS Solutions & Innovation EMEAR

Financial Services Solutions & Innovation EMEAR