Cisco Promises 15 Minute Security Fixes

The networking giant&s new Incident Control System (ICS), launched last week, heralds a new security category. “This is different from every other security product out there,” said Pat Scheckel, vice president of the Cisco practice at Berbee Information Networks in Madison, Wis. “We have a very complete security practice, and this is outside what we&ve been offering.”

Chris Vincent, senior vice president of Global Data Systems in Lafayette, La., agreed. “This is a totally different approach to threat management,” he said. “It&s fantastic.”

Cisco&s ICS appliance, available this month starting at about $9,200, is tied to Trend Micro&s TrendLabs for outbreak intelligence and virus signature updates, said Alex Thurber, director of security and wireless for worldwide channels at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

Once TrendLabs detects a vulnerability or attack on the Internet, it notifies ICS within 15 minutes, and the appliance then distributes a “coarse” policy-based fix, Thurber said. The fix is then refined and distributed within 90 minutes, he added.

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While praising the approach, Scheckel said there is some concern that “the cure could be worse than the disease.” As an example, he said a “first fix” for a threat on a particular port might be to block it, which could halt traffic of an essential application.

“You are putting a lot of faith in the people at TrendLabs,” Scheckel said. “But if it&s a choice between an hour of inconvenience and a Sasser-type of attack, the choice is clear.”

Still, when Berbee first rolls out ICS at customer sites, it will do so in manual intervention mode, meaning Berbee technicians will be notified of the initial fix and will decide whether to distribute it.

The new product provides ample assessment, planning, design and implementation opportunities for partners, Thurber said.

While partners agreed that opportunities exist, ICS will require some to restructure how they go to market. “As a managed services provider, we will totally have to rethink our approach,” Vincent said. Global Data&s managed security service monitors IDS, IPS and firewalls, he said. “ICS allows us to work with TrendLabs to offer an encompassing 24x7 service.”

With ICS, Cisco is now the company to beat in security, Scheckel said. “In the past two years, Cisco has transformed itself from a niche player in security to the innovator,” he said. “Now the other security companies will be playing catchup.”