Resilience has been in high demand over the last year. Whether it was individuals trying to remain healthy, families working to stay strong in the face of massive change, or companies fighting to survive in a completely different business environment, everyone was challenged.

Amidst this chaos, cybersecurity was of course tested as well, as droves of employees began working from home and attackers swooped in to take advantage of that migration. In fact, the entire RSA Conference this week was built on the theme of “Resilience.”

It was at last year’s RSA Conference a little over a year ago that we announced Cisco SecureX. At the time, we knew it was an important technology, but we had no idea just how valuable it would become for so many organizations – as they scrambled to find faster, simpler, and more flexible ways to secure their environments in the middle of uncertainty. Today, more than 7,000 customers are using SecureX to maximize the efficacy and efficiency of their security operations.

But it started long before that. Cisco has been on a path for several years to transform security – making it quicker and easier for customers to deploy safeguards when and where they’re needed, while at the same time improving overall defenses. As threats proliferated over the years and point products multiplied exponentially, security teams eventually became overburdened with complexity. They started looking to the cloud and vendor consolidation to solve the problem, and we knew our solutions had to keep pace with (and even surpass) customer expectations.

A platform approach to resilience

Cisco SecureX is a cloud-native security platform designed to enable different solutions to work together in an integrated fashion, sharing insights and fostering automation. These solutions can be both new and legacy tools, from Cisco and others. Through Extended Detection and Response (XDR) and more, SecureX provides greater security context and control across an organization’s entire infrastructure. With SecureX, we wanted to shift the focus from alerts to action. While crucial, alerts are not very effective when there’s too many to pay attention to and act on.

By aggregating and correlating various sources of intelligence, and allowing multiple tools and teams to work collaboratively in one place, our integrated platform provides the streamlined visibility, analytics, and workflows needed to better adapt to an ever-changing attack surface. Its flexibility also makes it less challenging for companies to quickly pivot to new networking trends such as cloud computing and remote working when needed.

The importance of integration is highlighted in our latest Security Outcomes Study (just released this week!). It found that organizations who prioritized well-integrated solutions when selecting security technologies were 22% less likely to experience a major security incident than those who simply chose the least expensive solutions.

According to Mick Jenkins, CISO at Brunel University London, “The streamlined platform approach has been quite easy for our security analysts to work with, and we’ve already seen evidence of shortened threat detection times.”

New platform innovations

Changing threat landscapes and network architectures have been especially prominent in 2020 and 2021. That’s why, in addition to helping our customers be more nimble, we also continue to evolve our security platform to meet future challenges. Since we launched SecureX last year, we have regularly added functionality to make sure companies can protect against the latest threats across their network, endpoints, cloud, and applications – while also making operational improvements and increasing productivity.

At our virtual Cisco Live event in March, we unveiled new capabilities that allow customers to transition to Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), XDR, and Zero Trust at their own pace through a platform-based approach. These capabilities included:

  • The ability to purchase all core Cisco SASE components in a single offer
  • Several new product features and integrations that further unlock SASE use cases
  • Automated detection and response through SecureX with 30+ pre-built security workflows and new orchestration capabilities
  • Accelerated time-to-value with dozens of turnkey, third-party integrations to seamlessly extend SecureX to existing infrastructures
  • Passwordless access to SaaS applications through Cisco Secure Access by Duo, helping to enable Zero Trust security frameworks

We also recently announced the intent to acquire Kenna Security to incorporate industry-leading, risk-based vulnerability management into the SecureX platform. This week during the RSA Conference 2021, we continued to build upon these innovations, and introduced new security functionality from the network and cloud to the endpoint and applications.

Fortifying network, cloud, and application security

As our computing infrastructure evolves, so too must security. Traditional security tools such as the firewall must extend to protect additional areas including applications and the cloud. As announced this week, we are empowering NetOps teams to run at DevOps speed, defending modern application environments with industry-first integrated firewall and application workload protection.

We are also making additional advancements in both Cisco Secure Firewall and the Cisco Umbrella cloud-delivered firewall to strengthen threat defense across customers’ full ecosystem. These advancements include tighter integration between Cisco Secure Firewall and SecureX to improve SecOps efficiency, as well as additional IPS functionality in both Secure Firewall and Umbrella, just to highlight a few. (Find out more.)

Streamlining endpoint protection

Endpoint protection has also become increasingly critical for overall security success, especially now that so many workers need to access corporate assets from outside the office. Endpoint security is the last line of defense for today’s organizations, and provides an important view into user behavior. In fact, the Cisco report referenced earlier in this post found that strong endpoint protection can help organizations improve on all of the 11 security best practices analyzed in the report (see here for more details).

Cisco Secure Endpoint is the industry’s only endpoint protection solution that offers a built-in security platform. This week we unveiled significant strides in endpoint security to further streamline and strengthen organizational defenses through integration and innovation. The new Cisco Secure Client is an enhanced single agent that brings together several user, endpoint, and cloud protection technologies. It reduces the cost of deploying and managing multiple security agents, while also expanding customer capabilities for XDR, Zero Trust, and SASE.

Our latest features also include, among others, SecureX device insights, delivering unified visibility into devices for conducting endpoint inventory, automated threat enrichment and response, and compliance campaigns. Additionally, we have widely expanded our simplified threat hunting, now offering 200+ advanced search queries to expand detection at the endpoint.

Be ready for tomorrow

Collectively, all of these features enable companies to more confidently defend critical security control points across their infrastructure in less complex ways – building greater resilience for the months and years to come. While we can’t always predict what the future will bring, the past year has certainly underscored the need to be ready for anything. We continue to partner with our customers to make that a reality through a strong, yet agile vision for security.

Be sure to check out all the Cisco security news from this week’s RSA Conference on our newsroom and blog pages. And watch CEO Chuck Robbins’ keynote if you missed it!

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Gene Hall

Vice President, Strategy, Incubations and Applications

Strategy, Incubations, Applications