Cisco unveils new security mgt suite

As the intensity and sophistication of cyberattacks increase, so does the demand for better ways to manage an organization's security, a demand that Cisco Systems aims to meet with its new security management suite.

The suite, which includes the new Cisco Security Manager (CSM) as well as a new version of the Cisco Security Monitoring, Analysis and Response System (MARS), is the company's attempt to meet the requirements of organizations to manage "systemwide embedded security," said Mick Scully, vice president for product management in Cisco's security technology group.

"Security management has typically been very stovepiped, with [virtual private networks] managed by one tool, firewalls by another and so on," Scully said. "Now people are looking for solutions to centrally manage all kinds of devices and different threats."

The CSM provides various ways to manage security. A device level view allows people to see all of the devices on the network and the policies that can be set for each, while a policy-centric view allows for creation and customization of policies according to particular business needs.

It will enable managers to set "policies within policies," Scully said, so that the same technology that can define "honeypot" areas in the network where anything is allowed to hit and be studied is used to set different policies for both the outward facing and internal needs of network users.

A third level of management provides a visual representation of the network so that an administrator can set policies for various links across the network.

The new Cisco suite will prove its worth as cyber protection moves toward integrating security into the fabric of the network itself, Scully said. That's something Cisco has been pursuing with such things as firewalls and intrusion prevention and detection capabilities embedded into its routers and switches.

Another recent announcement was the company’s integration of Secure Sockets Layer capabilities into its routers.

The next part of this integrated approach, Scully said, will be for the various security tools to collaborate with each other to help identify and manage threats from a central location.

Cisco Security Manager should be available by the end of March. Prices begin at $3,500 for what the company calls its standard edition, up to $15,000 for a professional edition that can manage a greater number of devices.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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