RSA 2012: Unlock the power of your network, says Cisco

The seemless integration of technology into our lives is a challenge, explained Young, who referred to a recent report which named cyber attacks number 4 of the top 50 global risks. “We need a seemless intergration of security to match, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

Young acknowledged that security is cumbersome for the average user, “who will go to great lengths to bypass security in order to do their jobs”. Young quoted a survey in which 70% of employees admitted to breaking company policy. One of the more common being that half of those surveyed send work emails via personal email accounts.

The question that every security profession has to ask themselves, explained Young, is whether they lock down or free up technology. “We’re torn between these two extremes. Each time we think we know which we’re going to do, something will happen and we’ll reverse the decision”, Young told the audience. In the struggle to know which to do, “we compromise our own effort”, he said.

But we don’t need to make this compromise. “We can have both – we need to have our cake and eat it too”.

Young noted the significant changes happening to our endpoints, led by consumerization and BYOD. “By 2016, we at Cisco estimate that there will be eight billion smartphone devices globally. Desktops no longer live solely on endpoints – instead they are delivered on the network.”

With mobility comes data security concerns, explained Young. “Patient data and corporate data must be safe. It can’t walk in one door and out the other like our mobile devices are doing every day”, he insisted.

The solution, he advised, is unlocking the power of the network. “The network can deliver security capabilities that no other part can. What can a network deliver? It can tell you what is happening, where and in real-time. It can see all users, devices, data, applications, systems and the interactions between and among them – this is why the firewall is still important.”

Equally, Young placed emphasis on the continued importance of VPNs and secure WiFi - because “the network still provides us with secure access and mobility”.

User names and passwords (even good ones) “don’t work well enough today”, he said. Instead, it’s important to combine intelligence with the knowledge of what is happening on your network. “This allows you to make better decisions about what to lock down and what to free up. Leveraging the value of the network gives you best security. You can’t expect to have a physical presence on every device today. The network is the only control point you can depend on. “

In his closing remarks, Young concluded that the network empowers you to “say yes to applications and devices with the protection that is required. The network allows you to lock it down and free it all up”.


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