Cisco pitches security for SMEs

ASA plus FirePOWER for the rest of us

Small and/or medium businesses and branch offices rejoice: Cisco has joined the ranks of vendors deciding you warrant security you can afford.

As incidents like the Target “hack” demonstrated, a small contractor can easily provide a path into an enterprise network, so one of the key chunks of The Borg's latest announcement is to push its ASA/FirePOWER combo down the food chain somewhat.

As Cisco Australia's security sales honcho Anthony Stitt explained to Vulture South, the Adaptive Security Appliance line first got FirePOWER integration last September.

The latest announcement, Stitt said, is to offer “the same services and capabilities … in a form factor and price point for the SME and the branch office”.

Starting at US$995 in the home territory, the new line has configurations targeting desktop / SOHO, industrial, branch office and midsize business deployments.

Stitt said pricing will also reflect what features are turned on, and the license term the customer chooses.

The idea, he said, is to get the network kit into smaller and industrial sites that will raise red flags on malicious content, because “small business probably invests less in user awareness training” that teaches people not to click on the links.

The industrial products add hardening to things like temperature and vibration ratings to get the combination of Cisco and Sourcefire capabilities in front of increasingly-vulnerable SCADA kit.

People involved in industrial operations have a focus on network integrity and availability, Stitt said, which has in the past been elevated above security. That's changing, with operational staff getting better aligned with IT in understanding “the things that can go wrong” and in response are “actively rolling out security technology”.

Cisco's also responding to concerns from the most sensitive of its customers by creating an on-premises variant of its AMP Threat Grid.

Originally offered as a cloud service, Stitt said a small segment of customers were concerned about the analytical data gathered by Threat Grid and sent to Cisco for analysis.

“Even though the data is anonymised, and even though only metadata is sent to Threat Grid, you can still infer … certain things about a user – how they were using a machine, what services they were using, and so on.”

To address that concern, AMP Threat Grid is going to be offered as an on-premise UCS appliance. ®

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