Network Security Surfaces as Mainstream Media issue

February 20, 2012 - 5 Comments

The New York Times’ Nicole Perlroth filed an alarming account of government and corporate network vulnerabilities that comes across like a briefing dossier read by James Bond aboard a Heathrow-Beijing flight. But it does the good work of putting a critical technology issue before a broad audience.

Traveling Light in a Time of Digital Thievery” (NYT, Feb. 10) details extraordinary counter-espionage precautions taken in China by prudent travelers and their organizations. Many now leave their usual notebooks, smartphones and tablets safe at home. Some say a device taken into China is never again permitted to touch their corporate network.

“Hackers’preferred modus operandi, security experts say, is to break into employees’ portable devices and leapfrog into employers’ networks – stealing secrets while leaving nary a trace,” reports Perlroth.

It’s a little paranoid, but in this case a little paranoia is OK. Leaving any single country aside, today’s profusion of diverse networked devices presents equally profuse opportunities for infiltration. Devising robust protection strategies for entire systems, not just discrete devices, is among the key missions for Cisco Systems in this decade.

If news stories like this get the general public rethinking cyber-security, bring them on. We want businesses and consumers alike to see that security today means more than guarding a hard drive here, downloading new virus definitions there. It’s a pervasive challenge that’s an inevitable corollary of cloud computing and wireless device proliferation, and there’s no concealing that from the public.

We don’t want a spooked and reluctant user base – just a mindful, watchful one that recognizes the value of our work in the security realm.

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  1. John,

    Great post! I have multiple business clients that consistently question security threats over mobile devices. One of our clients is no longer allowing devices of any kind that are outside of their network to enter their zone.

    After reading and hearing about the immense attacks from hactivist groups such as Anonymous, time will only tell when mobile devices are the number targeted technology devices. Thanks for the proactive work Cisco! Keep it up!

  2. Thanks, Vince. Appreciate your comments, and validation, of course.


  3. John,

    Here is an interesting validation of your post. I met last week with a new client of ours, Seiko Instruments. Their marketing employees in Japan are not allowed to have company smartphones because of the perceived securtiy issues.

    Vince DeCarolis

  4. Thanks for you comments.

    Yes, as mobile devices become more mainstream, hackers are finding more ways to steal information. That’s why efforts like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and the security around them is so important. Cisco is working hard on providing designs around security and policies to help companies protect their assets while allowing users to bring their own devices, making them more productive in the long run.


  5. Well I agree issues regarding network security are emerging into the spotlight. I guess hackers have now been more active on stealing confidential information through mobile devices and its good that one of the biggest IT companies Cisco keeps an eye on such alarming network threats and takes some viable steps to minimize network infiltration.