Security is more critical today than it has ever been. We are constantly bombarded with buzzwords and acronyms. You hear cyber this and that, malware, SIG, DDOS, MFA, the list goes on… They are all very important, but we rarely hear the words “service provider security infrastructure.”

It’s fair to say the world has come a long way since the early ‘90s, and with that, so have the cyber threats which have evolved significantly, becoming more and more sophisticated. It’s no longer about kids in their bedrooms trying to make a name for themselves by changing a website or sending a virus into a company for fun but instead serious security threats from cybercriminals, which cost victims billions of dollars each year.

Therefore, security is front and centre of the agenda these days, as businesses and individuals become even more reliant on the internet to connect and access applications critical to just about every aspects of our lives.

In this blog I want to think about the bit we as consumers and businesses take for granted: the infrastructure. The infrastructure is in essence the plumbing that connects us all to the applications and experiences that we all value so highly.

Asking the hard questions

Connectivity to the applications and experiences we rely on crosses multiple networks. It crosses borders and in the process is analysed and processed by countless pieces of equipment. Have you ever thought of asking your Service Provider about this?

  • How do they ensure that your connectivity is safe at every point of its journey around cyberspace?
  • Where does their equipment come from?
  • How do they ensure that their suppliers have the right level of efficacy in the design and development of equipment?

When you buy a new home, you often get a guarantee or at least a survey to ensure that the property is safe, secure and won’t crumble into pieces once you’ve moved in.

A new car is given an “NCAP” rating, ensuring you know how safe it is and how various elements of the design measure up to the market.

But why don’t we think of connectivity like that? With something so important on which carries so much personal information and rely on every day, shouldn’t I care? I am in the industry and never once have I asked my Internet Service Provider to provide me with this information.

I probably should care, and maybe it’s time for a simple rating system so people can assess the risk associated with a particular service provider or supplier.

Our approach to trust

I recently looked into how Cisco handles the complex challenges associated with managing the security of supply chain, manufacturing, software, and hardware. For us security or “Trust,” as we prefer to say in this context, is at the heart of everything we do. Trust is a baseline in all our products and is implemented at an elemental level across our portfolio, from component supply chain through code development to silicon innovation. Cisco has robust mechanisms to ensure the equipment we develop and deploy to provide the services we rely on is a secure as possible.

Take a look at this animation that brings to life the steps we take to ensure all of this. We do this for every product we produce, so check out our Trust Portal for the full list. In the portal, we publish details of each of our products and their relative certifications so you can be sure that when Cisco is being deployed into your ISP’s network, your connection has been built in a way that is optimized to minimize risk. From the smallest switch in a broom cupboard to the “big iron” we invest heavily to ensure the equipment that underpins your connectivity is secure and robust.

Given the sophistication of the actors in this space there are no guarantees but coupling the approach Cisco takes with strong protection measures means a service provider working with us is in the best possible shape to protect your connectivity.

So maybe we should all think a little more about who is handling our connectivity in the same way we care about other key elements of our lives. We rely so much on the internet that if our connectivity is compromised it can have a fiscal and more wide-reaching impact. I hope this gives you some food for thought…


Dominic Elliott

Chief Technology Officer

Global Service Provider - Northern Europe