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Easy-to-Use Security Reference Architecture

SAFE can help you simplify your security strategy and deployment. This Cisco security reference architecture features easy-to-use visual icons that help you design a secure infrastructure for the edge, branch, data center, campus, cloud, and WAN. The framework encompasses operational domains such as management, security intelligence, compliance, segmentation, threat defense, and secure services.

SAFE solutions have been deployed, tested, and validated at Cisco and provide guidance, best practices, and configuration steps.

Why complicate your security network design? Keep it simple with SAFE.

The SAFE Key

The SAFE Key organizes security by using two core concepts: Places in the Network (PINs) and Secure Domains.

PINs reference examples of locations that are found in networks and the infrastructure needed to create them:

  • Data center
  • Branch
  • Campus
  • WAN
  • Internet edge
  • Cloud

Secure Domains are operational areas used to protect these locations. They are security concepts that traverse an entire network:

  • Management
  • Security intelligence
  • Compliance
  • Segmentation
  • Threat defense
  • Secure services

How SAFE Works

This Interactive SAFE Poster shows you how the model works to protect your network.

The Latest in Thought Leadership

The SAFE blog brings you best practices in network security architecture and design.

This reference architecture logically arranges capabilities to secure business workflows against threats.


SAFE design guides have been tested, validated, and deployed at Cisco. They provide best practices, configuration steps, and more.

SAFE Secure Data Center Design Guide – August 2019 (PDF - 34.1 MB)Adobe PDF file

SAFE Edge Remote Access VPN with DDoS Design Guide – September 2016 (PDF - 4.6 MB)Adobe PDF file

Ransomware Defense Design Guide – August 2017 (PDF - 6.2 MB)Adobe PDF file

IoT Threat Defense for Manufacturing SAFE Design Guide – May 2018 (PDF - 8.6 MB)Adobe PDF file

SAFE Secure Cloud Protect Design Guide - February 2018 (PDF - 2 MB) Adobe PDF file

SAFE Toolkit

The SAFE Toolkit includes the elements required to facilitate security discussions. You can use the items on these slides to build presentations using SAFE best-practice illustrations and diagrams. And you can customize the diagrams to suit your business.