Cisco to address cloud security

Networking powerhouse Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) has bolstered its network security infrastructure with more cloud specific security services in an attempt to prevent or minimize attacks, malware and botnets.

The new cloud security services ties into multiple networks and applications. The Cisco Security Cloud supports the recently announced Cisco IronPort Hosted Email Security Services as well as Global Correlation, a new technique that powers security services integrated into Cisco’s broad range of security offerings.

According to Susan Don, director of worldwide channel security business development for Cisco, based in Orange County, Calif., the company is weaving security into everything it does.

Currently customers worry that cloud computing does not provide an ideal balance between the applications and the data. Most users tend to keep data internally, while outsourcing the applications. The new Cisco service tries to addresses these cloud computing concerns by offering a correlation of threat information in a software-as-a-service model. Don said that users will get a satellite view of impending threats and can access it on and hourly, daily or weekly basis depending on their level of need.

“The world is flat and you need to address a lot of attacks. Most of these attacks have been stopped just by understanding the reputation of it and by combining things such as reputation filters and signatures along with virus scanning and intrusion detection it gives you the ability to connect the dots. One can see what is happening around the world and you can correlate patterns that are emerging and it helps you to take a different stance on what you will allow in your network,” Don said.

There are many other factors for cloud-based security such as the poor economy has led to layoffs. One of the consequences of those layoffs is disgruntled employees. Recently, mortgage services firm Fannie Mae avoided an attack that was set to obliterate all company data. That attack was set in motion by a disgruntled contractor.

Security still remains an IT spending priority because of government compliance regulations and an opportunity for the channel to provide customers with an automated approach for those who have cloud computing services or are interested in a cloud solution.

Another factor is that the security perimeter has simply vanished, according to Don.

Today employees use their handheld devices as laptops. Securing company assets in a mobile environment is a challenge. Couple that with social networking tools in business and a solution provider has an enormous business opportunity in securing cloud computing environments.

“Social networking is the Petri dish for malware. Click on a Facebook picture and it embeds malware or a botnet. Social networking sites are part of the new culture of business, but the channel has to help guard against these attacks,” Don added. Solution providers can take Cisco’s new cloud based security offerings and offer them as a line item in a managed service, whether they have their own NOC or not, Don said.

Another free offering for partners from Cisco is its SAFE security reference architecture program that provides validated design guides as a form of blueprints for planning, designing and deploying security solutions across the network.

“Why reinvent the wheel,” said Don. “Partners do not have to start from a blank piece of paper anymore. Partners can now modify these design guides for the customer and add their own secret sauce and improve their speed to market,” she said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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