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Cisco pulls its security together

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Cisco claims that it is finally getting its act together on security. The company has unveiled a new strategy, called Threat Control and Containment, or TCC, which it said would get its assorted security products working together more effectively.

"TCC comprises several key initiatives - more collaboration between products, more visibility into what's going on, and easier configuration," said Elad Shaviv, who heads Cisco's security business in Europe.

He added that it allows the Cisco Security Agent (CSA) on PCs to talk to its intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to minimise false-positives, for example, and it lets Cisco Security Manager deploy the same policies to all of an organisation's IPS simultaneously.

Shaviv denied that TCC was either mere semantics, or something that should have been done ages ago.

"It's more than just administrative offload," he said. "It takes more intelligence into the network, for example it includes intelligence on the IPS to set and assess risk levels. Plus we can have IPS on ISRs (Integrated Service Routers), in Catalysts and so on - they're different systems but they can now be managed and configured in common.

"We see security teams getting much closer to the business needs of the enterprise," he continued. "Security has become too complicated to just fill one need. Today you have so many borders to defend - you have to understand what you want to achieve."

He added, "Each team has its own time-lines and development schedules, and it's not that easy to get them to co-operate. That's what we're doing now."

The TCC announcement also included enhancements to Cisco's security Mitigation Analysis and Response System (MARS) and its SSL VPN. It means CSA can now require out-of-office connections to be made via a VPN, for instance.

The company said that TCC "marks the latest evolution of Cisco's Self-Defending Network - a comprehensive framework incorporating various endpoint and network security products into an integrated, collaborative and adaptive security solution for organizations of all sizes".

However, it gave no word on how soon it might get all its other security technologies - both those it has developed and the ones it's acquired - might also be brought inside its collaborative framework.

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