Cisco Moves To ImproveNetwork Traffic Security

It's not an easy proposition, given the vendor's ballooning portfolio of products.
With so much of its networking gear embedded in corporate systems and the public Internet, Cisco Systems' approach to security has far-reaching consequences. One of Cisco's biggest challenges is convincing customers it has a plan for securing the traffic flowing through its ballooning portfolio of networking products. It has acquired 10 companies this year, including last week's purchase of Nemo Systems, a maker of memory technologies for network switching.

Security Umbrella
Cisco's security strategy needs to encompass technologies from companies it acquired this year, including:

AireSpace: Wireless LANs

FineGround Networks: Network appliances

Nemo Systems: Network switching

NetSift: Packet processing

Sheer Networks: Network management

Sipura Technology: Voice over-IP

TopSpin Communications: Server-fabric switching
Cisco sketched out more elements of its security plan last week. Cisco introduced its Incident Control System, which lets administrators use the system's core software, Incident Control Server, to obtain the most current security-threat information about viruses and other outbreaks from antivirus software maker Trend Micro Inc., and push reconfigured security policies out to network equipment. The system is priced at $9,200.

Cisco also added a distributed-threat mitigation feature for intrusion-prevention systems to version 4.1 of its Security Monitoring, Analysis and Response System software. That feature gives routers along the edge of a network a heads-up to a security threat, letting them automatically drop infected network traffic.

And Cisco revealed details of the new versions of its Intrusion Prevention System and Cisco Internet Operating Systems Software Release 12.4(4)T. The new IOS, due in November, includes a capability that lets administrators conduct deep-packet inspection pattern-matching and filtering to help them respond to an outbreak without network service disruption.

The announcements come less than a month after Cisco issued a fix for a notable security flaw in its Internet Operating Systems. The company is "struggling with the same security problems that all IT vendors are struggling with," says Greg Shipley, chief technology officer of security consulting firm Neohapsis Inc. The question is whether it can manage those struggles as it distributes all its acquired technologies throughout the world's networks.