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Cisco Shores Up Security

Cisco overhauled its security management software in an attempt to push its self defending networks” message to enterprise data center managers. (See Cisco Unveils Security Mgt and Cisco Innovates Security.)

For a couple of years, Cisco has extolled the virtues of its “self-defending networks” strategy to anyone willing to listen. Instead of deploying a plethora of different security devices like perimeter firewalls, Cisco is urging users to embed security into their networks, as an in-stream device or as part of the networking equipment itself. (See Chambers Shouts About Security.) As part of this message, the vendor is pushing a strategy called Network Admission Control (NAC), which enforces security policy compliance across different devices.

By focusing security resources on the network rather than in endpoint devices, users are better equipped to cope with the rapidly changing demands of cyber security. (See Chambers Sells Self-Defending Networks.)

It's a message that could fall on receptive ears. Just days ago, Bank of America and Washington Mutual joined a growing list of companies that have suffered high-profile security breaches. Last week, the banks were reportedly forced to cancel the debit cards of thousands of customers after a security breach involving an undisclosed company. While not openly related to network violations, the snafus nonetheless highlight a growing concern.

Cisco’s revamp includes the latest version of its Monitoring, Analysis, and Response System (MARS) that collects security data from network devices. In a nod to users’ increasingly complex IT environments, MARS version 4.2 can now draw information from both Cisco and non-Cisco appliances. Also released today is Cisco Security Manager (CSM) software, which manages different security devices, including firewalls and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

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