Could the network be the ultimate security device?

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Paolo Campoli, Head of Global Service Provider Sales, Middle East & Africa

We see this today with cloud computing and increasingly with the Internet of Everything (IoE), which is creating unprecedented opportunities for Service Providers through the interconnection of people, processes, data, and things.
Largely because of this exciting evolution, we are now facing a similar inflection point with respect to security. To capture opportunities made possible by ever-expanding connectivity, security must evolve in lock-step. In effect: “The network must become the security device” and likewise, the deployment of network services through virtualised technologies requires security considerations.
So how have we evolved our approach to security as defenders? The truth is, not nearly enough. Caught in a cycle of layering on the latest security tool, it isn’t unusual to find organisations with 40 to 60+ different security solutions that don’t – and can’t – work together or interoperate. Attackers are taking advantage of gaps in visibility and protection that this complexity and fragmentation creates to penetrate the network. Environmentally aware, attackers navigate through the extended network, evading detection and moving laterally until reaching the target. Once they accomplish their mission they remove evidence but maintain a beachhead for future attacks.
To truly address today’s dynamic threat landscape, evolving business models, and considerable complexity, security must be embedded into the heart of the intelligent network infrastructure and across the extended network – from the data center out to the mobile endpoint and even onto the factory floor.
This requires that we build technologies into network infrastructure that increase visibility across all network activity, provide context based on local and global threat intelligence, and allow control using analysis and automation to dynamically protect against detected threats.
The reliability of Cisco’s NFV architecture was recently demonstrated globally by Light Reading, an independent media organisation, who requested that EANTC (an internationally recognized test center) conduct a series of validation and verification exercises on a number of Cisco SDN (software-defined networking) and virtualization platforms. Findings from the EANTC report, which were recently announced at the SDN World Congress, showed the reliability of Cisco’s secure NFV architecture.   
We must design infrastructure that is open so that new capabilities and intelligence to address complex and evolving threats can be easily incorporated. And we must embed security without impeding business-critical resources and processes.
Cisco is sponsoring the SDN Theatre at AfricaCom 2015 because in Africa, we’re already seeing strong demand for secure SDN from industries with complex networks that need to quickly process large amounts of data and this includes Service Providers in particular.


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