Cyberattacks have become increasingly sophisticated as they target organizations of all sizes in both the public and private sectors. Governments and enterprises alike are constantly searching for effective strategies to safeguard their networks and sensitive data. And for the United States Federal Government, the National Security Agency (NSA) is refining its firepower to serve as a guiding light to all.

For the NSA’s cybersecurity team, preventing and eradicating threats to US national security systems also means focusing on the Defense Industrial Base and improving the security of weapon systems. Much of this work flows through their Cybersecurity Collaboration Center where it partners with allied nations, private industry, academics, and researchers to strengthen awareness and collaboration to advance the state of cybersecurity.

National Security Agency

To enhance their process, the NSA has recently developed and released the Cisco Firepower Threat Defense (FTD) Hardening Guide, a comprehensive resource designed to fortify Cisco Firepower Threat Defense customers’ cyber defense capabilities (more here). And we’re glad to help share the news as we feel the hardening guide can be a great new resource for our existing Cisco FTD users.

Inside the National Security Agency’s FTD Hardening Guide

The NSA’s Firepower Threat Defense Hardening Guide is a collaborative effort, one that can provide security practitioners and Information Assurance (IA) groups with invaluable insights and best practices to secure their Cisco Firepower Threat Defense deployments. As a Cybersecurity Technical Report, the hardening guide is a testament to how collaboration between a variety of groups across both the public and private sectors can increase everyone’s success in securing infrastructure. This guide is a result of the collective efforts of cybersecurity experts, threat intelligence analysts, network architects, and security engineers combined with the NSA’s Cybersecurity Directorate Network Infrastructure Security group, working together for the greater good. As a result, our deterrence against growing cyber threats is increased and our strategic posture enhanced.

The primary goal of the National Security Agency’s FTD Hardening Guide is to augment the security posture of organizations utilizing Cisco FTD. It does so by outlining step-by-step procedures for configuring, managing, and optimizing their Firepower Threat Defense environments. By adhering to these guidelines, organizations can:

  • Bolster their resilience against cyber threats
  • Minimize vulnerabilities
  • And prevent potential breaches that may result in data loss or system compromise.

By implementing the suggestions of the hardening guide, your organization’s FTD systems will be configured in a secure and uniform manner, reducing the risk of misconfigurations or security gaps caused by inconsistent settings.

Benefits for Cisco Firepower users

Adhering to the National Security Agency Cybersecurity Firepower Threat Defense Hardening Guide also gives your organization several specific benefits, including:

Improved threat detection and prevention – leverage Cisco FTD to gain a deeper understanding of potential threats and vulnerabilities that may lurk in your networks. By implementing the recommended security measures, you can enhance your threat detection capabilities and proactively prevent cyberattacks. For our friends in the public sector, this helps reduce risk of data breaches and unauthorized access to critical information.  You can learn more here.

  • Reduced attack surface – Discover how to disable or remove unnecessary services, features, or protocols that are not required for your systems or organization’s operations or mission. Reducing your attack surface is critical to reducing opportunities for attackers to exploit any potential vulnerabilities.
  • Enhanced network resilience – Gain valuable insights into your network’s resilience to keep vital operations up and running. With Cisco FTD, you learn how to design resilient network architectures and deploy security mechanisms that can adapt to evolving threats, plus maintain continuity even during an attack.
  • Compliance with industry standards and frameworks – Support compliance mandates for industry regulations, frameworks, and data protection standards. Cisco FTD users can benefit by aligning their security practices with relevant industry standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), NIST 800-53, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, Zero Trust Mandates from the White House, Zero Trust Mandates from the Department of Defense, Center for Internet Security Critical Security Controls.
  • Strengthened user awareness – Expand beyond just the technical aspects to grow user awareness and enhance education. In my opinion this is the most important benefit from a hardening guide. Why? Because it encourages your organization to conduct cybersecurity training for your employees. And that training can be enhanced by using the hardening guide in the classroom. By leveraging the hardening guide in training sessions, your users develop a better understanding of any potential security risks, related engineering tasks, and their critical role in keeping your environment secure.

Enhancing Firepower by taking collaborative action

We consider the FTD hardening guide a collaborative effort that should be constantly evolving. That’s why feedback and constant revision is important as new versions of Cisco Firepower evolve and features are added and/or changed. The good news is that all Cisco Firepower Threat Defense customers benefit from this team effort. And by continuing the collaborative approach, and including you as well, we all benefit from a comprehensive and up-to-date resource that evolves with emerging threats and security trends.

We encourage you to be a continuing part of making the National Security Agency’s Cybersecurity Firepower Threat Defense Hardening Guide a long-term asset for all users by regularly submitting your feedback to:

National Security Agency’s Hardening Guide helps us all

For Cisco Firepower Thread Defense customers seeking to enhance their cyber defense capabilities, the NSA’s FTD Hardening Guide is a valuable resource. By following the guide’s recommendations, along with other great material from Cisco (see below) your organization can strengthen threat detection and prevention mechanisms while streamlining incident response. Plus, standardize security configurations, raise overall security awareness and training, and bolster network resilience. Lastly, you can align compliance with industry standards and grow user awareness as well.

Remember, embracing this guide not only demonstrates your commitment to cybersecurity excellence but also signifies your belief in a proactive approach that safeguards critical data and assets. In the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, the National Security Agency’s Firepower Threat Defense Hardening Guide serves as a great resource and knowledge-sharing document, helping you stay one step ahead of malicious actors in the race to secure and resilient cybersecurity.

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Norman St. Laurent

Federal Product Marketing Manager