Firewalls are a critical line of defense for any organization’s network security. But as companies grow and the threat landscape evolves, managing these firewalls becomes increasingly complex.

Security teams often find it challenging to stay updated with the ongoing changes and adjustments required for firewall settings and rules to adapt to new threats, network changes, and compliance requirements. Often this leads to security gaps and vulnerabilities if not managed correctly.

One of the main risks associated with firewall management is misconfiguration. The process of manually reviewing and configuring firewalls is not only laborious but also susceptible to human error, which can create exploitable weaknesses in a network’s defenses. Gartner has forecasted that misconfigurations will account for 99% of firewall breaches by the year 2025, highlighting the need for a more reliable and automated management solution.

Additionally, the cybersecurity industry is facing a skills shortage, making it difficult for organizations to hire professionals who possess the depth of knowledge required to leverage all the features a firewall offers. This shortage can lead to security tools being underutilized, meaning that companies aren’t seeing the full potential return on their investment in these technologies.

Lastly, traditional firewall management tends to be reactive rather than proactive. Security teams often find themselves in a position where they are addressing issues after they have already arisen, rather than anticipating and preventing them. This can lead to costly downtime and security breaches.

These challenges highlight the need for a new approach to firewall management.

What is AIOps for Cisco Firewalls?

Imagine your firewall fuelled by AI and machine learning (ML) that involves correlating data, predicting issues, identifying reasons for failure or potential failure with data, providing recommendations, and then automating tasks to enhance overall efficiency and security. That’s essentially what AIOps for Firewalls is! 

AIOps analyses massive amounts of data like firewall logs, alerts, metrics and network activity patterns using various range of models and can detect complex patterns, guide remediation efforts, and even automate responses to enhance both efficiency and security.

Traditional firewall management is reactive, but AIOps takes a proactive stance. It anticipates problems before they happen, preventing downtime and headaches.

Think of it like this: Imagine your car with advanced driver-assistance systems that warn you about lane departures. AIOps for Firewalls is like having a self-driving car for your cloud and network security. It continuously monitors your configuration and traffic, identifies potential hazards such as usage spikes, misconfigurations, best practices, and security threats, and guides you to take corrective actions to keep your system secure.

Our Approach: The Path to an Autonomous Firewall Future

Like Tesla’s journey towards self-driving cars, Cisco is on a quest to infuse its AIOps for Firewalls with greater intelligence and automation.

You can expect an era of intelligent alerting where the system delivers clear, actionable alerts that cut through the noise, prioritizing the most critical issues and conveying a sense of urgency where needed. This means an end to the flood of irrelevant notifications, enabling security teams to focus on what truly matters. Its smart event correlation will connect disparate events to highlight unusual patterns, improving threat detection.

Furthermore, AIOps will detect anomalous behavior using dynamic baselines and offer forecasting abilities to predict and prevent potential issues using multiple advanced forecasting models.

It will also provide precise remediation suggestions powered by GenAI , assisting in rapid problem resolution. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve self-healing or automated remediations, minimizing the need for human intervention and ensuring consistent network uptime and security.

The Benefits for You

Imagine a world where your business operations are rarely interrupted by network outages/downtime. With near zero downtime, you can say goodbye to those stressful moments scrambling to get things back online. This translates to smoother workflows, happier customers, and a more productive work environment.

But that’s not all, your investment in a firewall is amplified. A well-maintained firewall with maximized effectiveness becomes an impenetrable shield, keeping your business safe from ever-changing threats. Imagine having the peace of mind that comes with knowing your data and operations are constantly protected by a robust security posture. This is the reality that awaits you with the right tools and strategies.

Beyond Management: AIOps for Cisco Firewall

AIOps identifies areas where your defenses could be strengthened and provides Best Practice Recommendations to close any security gaps. It also ensures you’re getting the most out of your firewall investment by providing a clear picture of which features you’re using, and which ones remain untapped. This allows you to maximize your return on investment by leveraging the full potential of your firewall’s capabilities.

It delves deep into your firewall policies and provides optimization recommendations, acting like a security policy editor/auditor. Furthermore, AIOps acts like a real-time traffic cop, constantly monitoring your network. It provides insightful analysis of historical and real-time traffic patterns, helping you identify and resolve any issues quickly.

Best Practice Recommendations & Feature Adoption for Stronger Defense

Imagine an offering that allows you to survey the entire landscape of your security ecosystem through a unified dashboard. This scans your network to identify security lapses and opportunities for optimization, aligning with best practices widely recognized across the industry.

It addresses potential concerns, pinpointing vulnerabilities like misconfigured network translations, excessive logging that clogs your system, or outdated security measures. The dashboard also highlights urgent threats like unaddressed security advisories and missing backups, while flagging inefficient resource usage and potential compliance gaps.

This comprehensive overview empowers you to optimize your network configuration, ensure secure log storage, and streamline your defenses for maximum protection.

AIOps Insights - unified dashboard view

Policy Insights with Policy Analyzer & Optimizer

This essential service conducts an in-depth review and enhancement of firewall policies, pinpointing and rectifying redundancies, duplications, overlapping, shadowed, and mergeable rules, as well as those that are expired or inactive. By providing tailored remediation recommendations, it ensures that firewall policies remain streamlined and efficient, significantly cutting down on deployment time.

Policy Insights / Policy Analyzer & Optimizer dashboard view

Traffic & Capacity Insights

Traffic & Capacity Insights offer both real-time and historical analyses of network traffic, aiding in the identification and resolution of problems and forecasting potential problems. Administrators often lack visibility into sudden surges in network usage.

For instance, substantial enduring data transfers, known as Elephant flows, have the potential to burden firewall devices, which can result in dropped traffic, a weakened security posture, and diminished firewall efficiency. By monitoring these extensive network flows, firewalls can predict their impact on resources like CPU and memory.

Utilizing AIOps insights, we can proactively recommend strategies such as rerouting low-risk applications and regulating high-risk ones to streamline network traffic. This proactive approach enables administrators to address issues before they escalate.

AIOps Insights Dashoboard view - High Traffic spike due to Elephant Flows AIOps Insights - Elephant Flow Analysis screen


By incorporating AIOps into our services, we are advancing beyond mere firewall management by simplifying operations and improving security posture.

We are adopting a more intelligent and proactive methodology to safeguard and optimize the performance and security of your network infrastructure through various insights into traffic, capacity, operations and health. Coming soon from Cisco Security Cloud Control aka Cisco Defense Orchestrator.


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Gayathri Nagarajan

Engineering Product Manager

Security Business Group