Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Analytics

1/19/2007
07:50 AM
50%
50%

Cisco's New Opportunity

IronPort acquisition could open up possibilities that go well beyond messaging security

As an analyst, I've found that the results of acquisitions are almost always disappointing. The acquired company is sky-high, flushed with impending wealth and visions of industry dominance with the resources of the larger company, while the acquiring company struts its stuff and positions the new company as a strategic new product line.

Then reality sets in. The new company disappears while its technology is retrofitted to integrate with the acquirer’s security management and UI schemes. Good, creative people become de-motivated and leave when they realize that they have become small fish in a big pond. After a year or two, the market has moved on, the exciting technology has fallen behind the competition, and the acquisition is considered a bust by all except those who authorized the deal.

Trust me on this one. I see it all the time. Is there anyone out there who really believes CipherTrust will thrive as part of Secure Computing? Has anyone seen Zone Labs lately?

Which brings us to Cisco's acquisition of IronPort earlier this month. One of the reasons I like this deal is that Cisco does a really good job with acquisitions. For one, it treats the people well and retains the top talent. It’s been years since the Okena purchase, and the core engineering talent for Cisco Security Agent is still together.

Perhaps the strongest indication of Cisco’s prowess is that the executive team for security — Bob Gleichauf, Richard Palmer, Mick Scully, and Jayshree Ullal — have all thrived after coming to Cisco via acquisition. That’s remarkable.

The other reason I like this deal is that IronPort positions Cisco to finally implement intelligence that can breathe life into its "Self Defending Network." Imagine an automated security infrastructure that does reputation scoring based on service provider traffic observations, enterprise network security overlays, and corporate networking equipment. This raises the bar way past server-based or network appliance-based approaches.

The secret sauce that could enable this sort of capability is IronPort’s SenderBase network, where proprietary algorithms build a reputation profile for everything that sends or receives an email. Imagine Cisco’s opportunity if it can find a way to apply IronPort’s reputation architecture to multiple applications for every IP address that talks on the network.

Solutions to security problems that require worldwide network visibility could be within Cisco’s reach. The possibilities include detection of phishing attacks, combating botnet command and control, catching malware as it phones home with personally identifiable information, and even securing social networking activity.

Networking behavior is rapidly changing, and network attacks are shifting from protocol anomalies (such as buffer overflows and malformed packets) to more effective social trickery and data theft. SenderBase may be just the springboard that Cisco needs for new products and new subscription-based security services to keep pace with the bad guys. It’s hard to imagine many other vendors that can unite service provider and enterprise security practices.

Cisco’s crystal ball has been pretty good about seeing into the future. Of course, when you have a $170 billion market cap, you have more than some say about what that future will be. Cisco can still screw it up. It's easy to think of IronPort as yet another security appliance that uses reputation scores to deflect spam at the network edge. But with proper execution and crafty new messaging, this relationship could be about much more than an email gateway.

Eric Ogren is a security analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) Special to Dark Reading

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Major Brazilian Bank Tests Homomorphic Encryption on Financial Data
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/10/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft Patches Windows Vuln Discovered by the NSA
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/14/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20003
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
Feldtech easescreen Crystal 9.0 Web-Services 9.0.1.16265 allows Stored XSS via the Debug-Log and Display-Log components. This could be exploited when an attacker sends an crafted string for FTP authentication.
CVE-2019-3686
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
openQA before commit c172e8883d8f32fced5e02f9b6faaacc913df27b was vulnerable to XSS in the distri and version parameter. This was reported through the bug bounty program of Offensive Security
CVE-2019-3683
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
The keystone-json-assignment package in SUSE Openstack Cloud 8 before commit d7888c75505465490250c00cc0ef4bb1af662f9f every user listed in the /etc/keystone/user-project-map.json was assigned full "member" role access to every project. This allowed these users to access, modify, create and...
CVE-2019-3682
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
The docker-kubic package in SUSE CaaS Platform 3.0 before 17.09.1_ce-7.6.1 provided access to an insecure API locally on the Kubernetes master node.
CVE-2019-17361
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-17
In SaltStack Salt through 2019.2.0, the salt-api NEST API with the ssh client enabled is vulnerable to command injection. This allows an unauthenticated attacker with network access to the API endpoint to execute arbitrary code on the salt-api host.