Cisco: Ready, Aim, Firepower NGFW
Cisco’s first fully integrated, threat-focused Firepower Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) represents a ‘significant departure from the focus of legacy NGFWs on application control.’ Where legacy NGFW’s protect homes by security windows and doors, Cisco’s approach is to ‘identify, detect and protect against would-be burglars no matter how they try to gain access to a property.’
Cisco’s latest may not be “100% effective in blocking… but it is best of breed in detecting”, said Dave Stuart, Senior Manager of Network Security, Cisco. It helps to “drive the time to detection way down… to less than one day. That’s significant,” he tells IT Trends & Analysis.
Of late, security has been Cisco’s number one focus. The company reported a 12% increase in security-related revenue last fiscal year, to $1.75 billion.
These new announcements should raise the bar further. “They’re intended to move us forward in a way that I think leapfrogs some of our competitors,” said Stuart. “Security is our number one priority.”
As part of the NGFW news, Cisco unveiled the Firepower 4100 Series appliances (4 new models; 10g and 40g interfaces, up to 80gbps throughput, 1RU form factor; low latency;), Firepower Management Center, and the Security Segmentation Service. The advisory service is intended to help organizations create security controls that enhance compliance, breach containment, threat detection, content security and data loss prevention across their IT infrastructure.
As Cisco — and every other IT&T vendor, service provider, analyst, politician and the tens of millions of victims of identity theft — will tell you, despite the money and resources being thrown at it, cybersecurity remains a huge and growing concern. “The industrialization of hacking is putting businesses on the defensive against a growing group of adversaries that steal information for profit,” said David Goeckeler, SVP and GM, Security Business Group, Cisco, in a prepared statement.
“In the last three years, Cisco has spent billions in strategic cybersecurity acquisitions and internal innovations to help stay ahead of the world’s most malicious attacks that threaten organizations. For businesses to get real value and manage risk as they implement digital operational models, their security platforms need to integrate into the business and support growth opportunities. This means taking a threat-centric approach, with protection from the mobile endpoint to the cloud.”
While spending on cybersecurity is expected to exceed $37 billion in 2016 (another report puts last year’s cybersecurity outlay at $106.32 billion, mushrooming to $170.21 billion by 2020), last month the company reported that new data indicates that may be a case of too little, too late. The Cisco 2016 Annual Security Report found that only 45% of organizations are confident in their security posture, while 92% agree that regulators and investors will expect companies to manage cybersecurity risk exposure.
Other industry findings include: the average annualized cost of cybercrime has soared 82% over the last 6 years, to $15 million per US organization; and the average time to resolve a cyberattack was 46 days (sorry Cisco), with an average cost to participating organizations of more than $1.9 million during this 46-day period, up 22% from last year.
There is a huge disconnect between confidence and expectations, but the situation is not as bleak as it appears, said Jason Brvenik, Principal Engineer, Cisco Security Business Group.The evolution of cybercrime from hackers and current and former employees to organized crime is a positive development, said Brvenik. With this commercialization, it’s now almost as easy for the good guys as it is for the bad guys to go online and the latest exploit kits.
Then there’s the provocative proposal from Gartner Research Director Adam Hils who suggested it might be time to retire the term ‘next-generation firewall’, which his company initially coined back in 2003-04. ‘Whether we as an industry retire the term or not, it’s important for firewall customers to understand that many vendors can call themselves “next-generation” legitimately. Customers must do the hard work of determining which features of the NGFW are most important to them, and which vendors deliver those capabilities most effectively.’
In last year’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls, Gartner reported that Cisco shared the Challenger quadrant with Fortinet, behind the Leaders, Check Point Software Technologies and Palo Alto Networks. It cautioned that ‘Gartner clients select Cisco firewall products more often when security offerings are added to a Cisco infrastructure, rather than when there is a shortlist with competing firewall appliances. In the survey sent to vendors, Cisco’s product was the second most frequently listed as the one vendors claimed to replace the most; however, it was also listed this year as No. 2 in the vendor list of perceived competitive threats.’
Despite the doom-and-gloom cybersecurity reports, Stuart believes customers are doing a much better job than the numbers would indicate. They understand the challenges, but everything is changing so fast, they can’t keep up. They’re still struggling with cloud, virtualization and have yet to being to address the IoT challenges. “I think this announcement… that weaving of security into the network fabric is essential, essential to meet this challenge.”
Looking ahead, Stuart says Cisco wants to be its customers’ strategic partner. It will continue to enhance the “threat effectiveness of the solution, tighter integration…[and] will keep our portfolio up to snuff either through in-house development or acquisition… all with the intent of providing great security for our customers and being that strategic vendor for them.”