Cisco Launches Managed Security Threat Services

The networking giant expands its security portfolio with an on-premises offering that leverages predictive analytics.

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Cisco Systems is rolling out new managed security services, the latest move by the vendor as it looks to build out its larger data center solutions capabilities.

The giant networking vendor for the past several years has been expanding its security offerings, much of it done under the direction of Chris Young, senior vice president of Cisco's Security Group. The latest addition to the company's security portfolio is its Managed Threat Defense, an on-premises solution that leverages predictive analytics to detect and thwart cyber-threats on a customer's networks.

According to Bryan Palma, senior vice president of Cisco Security Solutions, security continues to be a key priority for businesses as more data is moved to the cloud. At the same time, more people are using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to access data, and sharing that data on social networks, creating a broad landscape for security problems.

In addition, the security threats are becoming more sophisticated, the security industry is becoming more complex and fragmented, and businesses are faced with a growing shortage of cyber-security professionals, Palma told eWEEK.

Cisco's 2014 Annual Security Report illustrates some of the issues, he said. In the report, 30 of the world's largest companies said that they had network traffic going to Websites known to host malware, with it sometimes taking years before these companies learn that their networks have been compromised. At the same time, Cisco is estimating that there will be a worldwide shortage of more than 1 million security professionals.

Cisco's Managed Threat Defense Service, announced April 22, is designed to help businesses better handle the more sophisticated and dynamic threats in today's world, Palma said. The offering is designed to leverage hardware and software that are designed to help businesses—in conjunction with Cisco—detect, monitor and analyze cyber-threats.

With the solution, customers need to deploy a Cisco appliance on their networks. The hardware is armed with a range of Cisco security features, including the company's Advanced Malware Protection for detecting malware and eliminating false positives, Sourcefire FirePower for threat detection, and Cisco Cloud Web Security for email and Web filtering.

The appliance, which leverages Hadoop 2.0 for predictive analytics that will help detect unusual patterns and suspicious behavior within the network, collects information from the network and securely shares it with Cisco security staff in one of two new security operations centers—one in Raleigh, N.C., and the other in Australia. The staff monitors the network, using predictive analytics and anomaly detection to seek out security problems. If an issue is detected, the Cisco staff works with the enterprise to address and remediate the problem.

Palma said that all the data collected from the networks are kept in the on-premises appliance, but is shared with Cisco's staff at the operations centers.

For the customers, the managed security service helps them address capital and operation expenses while giving them anomaly-detection capabilities and global threat intelligence, he said. It also gives enterprises the tools and resources they need to address a growing landscape of threats that are more sophisticated and dynamic, Palma said.

Businesses can no longer address security threats by throwing up barriers and hoping that the network isn't breached, he said. Attackers are creating more complex malware and other threats, and companies need to be able to respond to them.

"The only way to combat this is by having an information advantage," Palma said. "It’s like chess. If an adversary makes a move, you've got to respond with a move. It's dynamic."

The Managed Threat Defense is available from Cisco and its partners. It's available now in the United States and Canada, as well as some regions in the Asia, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Japan. Palma said the plan is to expand the service to other regions and to open security operations centers in other parts of the world.