Networking, Security Telemetry Is Cisco’s ‘Competitive Weapon’ For Combating Immature Cybersecurity Postures

‘The biggest competitive weapon that they have is that they own the telemetry from the network and if they can correlate that data and optimize it for security use cases, then I think they’ll be in a very strong position,” one Cisco partner says of the networking giant’s plan to improve customers’ cybersecurity readiness.


The majority of businesses around the world are ill-equipped to defend against the increased attack surface of a hybrid world, but pulling in valuable telemetry data from the network will be critical in closing the cybersecurity gaps for customers, according to Cisco Systems.

Only 15 percent of organizations globally have a “Mature” level of readiness that’s required to be resilient against the modern cybersecurity threat landscape, according to Cisco’s first-ever Cybersecurity Readiness Index released Tuesday. The stark findings of the survey highlighted why deploying best-of-breed, point security products, isn’t working, Tom Gillis, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Security Business Group, told CRN.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco, known primarily for its networking chops, offers a range of point security products and services that the company has been working to integrate into a unified security platform over the past nine months. That platform, Cisco Security Cloud, offers partners and end customers a new, holistic approach to security and moves away from point products that can only offer users limited context, Gillis said.

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“We think that there’s a combination of products and services for how we make [security] all work,” he said. “Cisco is unique in that we see the inner workings of the laptop, we see email natively, we see DNS and web traffic and, of course, nobody knows the network like Cisco.”

It’s that ability to look across a variety of domains that gives the company an edge, according to Chris Konrad, area vice president, global cyber, for solution provider giant and Cisco partner World Wide technology (WWT).

“The biggest competitive weapon that they have is that they own the telemetry from the network and if they can correlate that data and optimize it for security use cases, then I think they’ll be in a very strong position,” Konrad said.

Stopping attacks requires telemetry from several different areas, including at the endpoint with endpoint detection and response (EDR), the virtual private network (VPN), email and the web, and the network itself. Cisco’s large, existing footprint in this space helps it differentiate itself in the security market, Gillis said.

“We have all … of those domains and I don’t think there’s any other security company that has the breadth of data that we have,” he added.

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A ‘Volatile’ Environment

Cisco’s independent, double-blind survey asked 6,700 cybersecurity leaders across 27 markets to indicate which security solutions they have deployed and the stage of deployment. Companies were then classified in four stages of readiness: Beginner, Formative, Progressive and Mature. In addition to the finding that only 15 percent of companies are considered to be at the Mature stage, 55 percent of companies surveyed globally fell into the Beginner (8 percent) and Formative stages (47 percent), which Cisco said suggests they are performing below average on cybersecurity readiness.

To add to the lack of cybersecurity readiness, 82 percent of respondents said they expect a cybersecurity incident to disrupt their business in the next 12 to 24 months. In fact, the survey found that 60 percent of respondents have already experienced a cyber incident in the past 12 months and the cost on average of said incidents was $500,000 each.

“I’ve been in the industry myself for 25 years and I have never seen the industry as volatile and as disruptive as it is today. There’s a lot going on,” WWT’s Konrad said, pointing to a proliferation in ransomware attacks and geopolitical tensions that have impacted the threat landscape. Other factors that are expanding the attack surface, Konrad said, include hybrid work and merger and acquisition activity.

Establishing a programmatic view of a company’s risk level in the form of an assessment is the first step in helping customers that are at a Beginner or Formative level of cybersecurity readiness, Konrad said. “They have a lot going on in their environment. If they don’t know what levels of risk they’re operating at, they can’t protect what they can’t see, so we start with the fundamentals.”

Tool sprawl is also a common problem among enterprises that a platform approach to security can help address, he said. With so many different security products available, many businesses have many disparate security tools that they aren’t driving value from and are sometimes not operationalized within their security environment.

“Taking a platform approach, number one, it can eliminate technical debt, but then you also have a platform that can do so many different things and it’s all harmonized together,” he said.

Luckily for the channel, customers aren’t sitting on their hands. The survey found that 86 percent of respondents said their organization plans to increase their cybersecurity budget by at least 10 percent over the next 12 months.

“I haven’t seen any slowdown from our customers at all when it comes to cyber spend,” Konrad said.

For partners, the big opportunity lies in managed security services, Gillis said.

“I’ll especially put an exclamation point on the need for a managed service because [businesses] are looking for that expertise and that thought leadership to, first of all, acknowledge the problem and then say, ‘Here’s how we can solve the problem in a unique way.’ And we’re not the only company telling this story. But we’re one of only a few security companies that have the breadth to be able to work across all these domains,” he said.

The first examples of Cisco’s Security Cloud vision will debut this spring followed by a steady rollout of new features for the platform, Gillis said.