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Cisco has strengthened its security portofolio with 14 hardware and software upgrades.

The product blitz falls into three main product categories: security management, threat protection and virtual private network (VPN) technology. In part the launch (in the finest Whitehall traditions) covers previously announced products.

Three of the product enhancements are already in place with the other 11 coming either this month or next, as explained in Cisco's roadmap.

Last time Cisco announced a security portfolio revamp it backtracked on delivery dates - well it happens to the best of us.

The latest additions support Cisco's strategy of integrating security services throughout Internet Protocol (IP) networks. The most significant introduction is technology from Okena, the behavour blocking developer bought by Cisco in January. This positions Cisco to compete in this fledgling market segment with start-ups like BBX Technologies and others.

Management, management, management

The security management upgrades kick off with Cisco IOS AutoSecure, an enhancement of Cisco's core operating system which allows "one touch" router lockdown via a command-line-interface (CLI). Two other tools provide progressively deeper forensic and management capabilities.

Cisco Security Device Manager (SDM) version 1.0, available across the network giant's 830 to 3700 series access routers, provides intelligent wizards for configuring firewall and IP Security (IPSec) VPN services. Cisco SDM also offers GUI-based router lockdown and a security auditing capability.

There are also tweaks to CiscoWorks Security Information Management Solution (SIMS). Version 3.1 of CiscoWorks SIMS provides security event monitoring and correlation for multivendor security environments.

Cisco IP Solution Center (ISC) version 3.0 Security Technology Module is a new policy-based security management tool designed to help manage the roll-out of large-scale VPN and firewall deployments.

Additional ISC technology modules (targeted towards the service provider market) provide Layer 2 and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) VPN management for additional management options.

Next we have CiscoWorks VPN/Security Management Solution (VMS) version 2.2, which offers enhancements include integrated administrative support for the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Firewall and VPN services modules and integrated monitoring of Cisco (Intrusion Detection System) IDS products.

Cisco VMS 2.2 also supports the new Cisco Security Agent, a threat-protection capability that originates from Okena.

Speeding up VPNs

Cisco has introduced hardware-based VPN acceleration service modules.

These include modules for the Cisco 2600XM for the branch office, Cisco 7200 Series routers and the Cisco VPN 3000 Series Concentrator for remote-access VPN aggregation. These products support the recently introduced Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).

Cisco boasts that its 7600 Series routers and Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switches now deliver up to 14 Gbps throughput for central site VPN aggregation and up to 20 gigabit/second firewall services.

Which is nice.

In addition to the hardware-based VPN acceleration, Cisco is revamping its Cisco IOS Software-based VPN capabilities.

Enhancements include IPSec-to-MPLS integration, allowing service providers to terminate multiple IPSec VPN customer-edge connections onto a single provider MPLS interface for increased scalability and simplified configuration. New Dynamic Multipoint VPN (DMVPN) features include both a self-healing capability, designed to maximise network VPN uptime by re-routing around network link failures, and a load-balancing feature.

An updated version of the Cisco VPN Client (version 4.0) provides improved desktop security, such as protection against hackers (don's you mean crackers - Ed) and viruses, for remote-access VPN sessions through integration with the Cisco Security Agent. The client is also simpler to use and provides better support for multimedia and collaboration applications across remote-access VPNs.

IDS revamp for "day zero" desktop protection

Cisco Security Agent provides "day-zero desktop and server protection" (someone at Cisco has been learning h4x0r terms) from network attacks using behaviour blocking technology which Cisco brought into its portfolio through the recent Okena acquisition.

Next up is the Cisco Access Router IDS Network Module and Cisco IDS 4215 sensor, which are basically scaled-down SME tools designed for SMEs and the branch offices of larger companies. Both products use Cisco's Threat Response (CTR) technology to minimise false alarms.

Through collaboration with IPSec VPN and generic routing encapsulation traffic, this Access Router IDS Network Module can allow decryption, tunnel termination, and traffic inspection at the first point of entry into the network. This a market first, Cisco claims.

More details on these products are here. ®

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