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9/12/2012
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Cisco Releases Cloud IPS, Upgrades Security Products

Network equipment vendor's new products and services focus on improving security for mixed physical, virtual, and cloud environments, as well as BYOD.

Cisco Wednesday announced a number of new and updated products and services designed to better secure modern data centers, including a brand-new "cloud firewall" that can apply a single firewall policy across physical, virtual, and cloud environments.

"Why is it important that we're announcing these products today? It all has to do with data centers being transformed--when are they not? But over the past three years, we've seen a lot of significant changes that businesses are starting to grapple with," said Jeff Aboud, marketing manager for Cisco's enterprise security solutions. Those changes include "a massive increase in application traffic and network connections per second," which he said has been challenging the ability of businesses to sufficiently scale up their networks.

Traffic diversity is another challenge. Cisco has found that on average, nearly half of all workloads in the data center are now virtualized, and the company expects that amount to surpass 50% by the middle of next year. "So it's not just physical, or virtual, or cloud, but about these three different types of infrastructure living together in a hybrid environment," Aboud said. Device-wise, Cisco has also found that every corporate employee now uses an average of more than three mobile devices, such as a combination of business and personal laptops, as well as tablets and smartphones.

[ For more on security best practices, see 5 Black Hat Security Lessons For CIOs. ]

"Taking all of those things together, it's adding a lot of security requirements onto data centers," said Aboud. "So if you think about connections per second in throughput numbers, they have to scale like crazy, and they need security that can scale with them so that it doesn't create artificial bottlenecks."

Accordingly, one of Cisco's new security announcements is a "major update" to its Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) Platform. According to Cisco, version 9.0 of the platform now supports the use of multiple devices that can be clustered to support up to 320 Gbps of firewall and 60 Gbps of IPS throughput, as well as 1 million connections per second. The platform also integrates with Cisco's Cloud Web Security--formerly known as ScanSafe--threat intelligence product, and can also read Cisco TrustSec security group tags, which provide policy-based access controls.

Cisco Wednesday also announced a new IPS 4500 series of appliance, which Aboud characterized as "a data-center-grade intrusion prevention system." The appliance offers throughput speeds of 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) per rack unit.

On the cloud front, meanwhile, Cisco said its Adaptive Security Appliance 1000V, a.k.a. Cloud Firewall, has been optimized to work with physical, virtual, and cloud environments simultaneously, allowing businesses to create one firewall policy and apply it across all of those environments. "This is truly built for those building out public and private clouds," said Aboud. He noted that the appliance's built-in virtual firewall capabilities aren't simply a virtualized instance of existing firewall software, but rather have been designed from the ground up to make it easier to dedicate more or less resources to any given firewall instance.

Meanwhile, Cisco Wednesday also released Cisco Security Manager 4.3, which is designed to manage a large number of Cisco security devices at once, including security appliances, IPS devices, routers, and instances of its AnyConnect mobile client. "This has been our security manager for a couple of years now, but we've made a couple of important enhancements," said Aboud. Changes include a more intuitive setup wizard, he said, as well as "auto conflict resolution" for anyone writing security policies, "so they can tell if they're developing a policy that conflicts with another policy that they already have."

Finally, Cisco upgraded to version 3.1 its AnyConnect remote-access software, which is meant to help businesses secure their employee-owned devices--per the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement. New features include built-in IPv6 compatibility, as well as support for the NSA Suite B Cryptography. "So this is really about enabling higher levels of encryption and cryptography," said Aboud.

InformationWeek is conducting a survey on mobile device management and security. Take our 2013 InformationWeek Mobile Device Management and Security Survey now. Survey ends Sept. 14.

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