As promised, my review of the Cisco ComplianceZone event.
The Cisco Compliance meet I attended yesterday was very well organized to say the least. The presentations were well scheduled, in the sense, one presentation led to another. It was like a well written story unfolding right in front of us. Good job guys, you sure did not disppoint us 🙂
First, what was the agenda of this meet? To put it in a nutshell “Security compliance” is the buzz word in ITS companies, BPOs etc globally and has added importance here in India ( largely due to security thefts, privacy information leaks etc). So what is this ‘compliance’ all about and what are the Cisco product Suite that caters to these needs. These were the questions answered in the conference.
From what I understand , Security compliance is a triangle with the three vertices being “People, Processes and Technology’ each of the presentations reflected every one of these vertices. The first two presentations were about the Importance of Compliance from a Business perspective (presented by the NandKumar Saravade, Director of Cyber Security and Compliance,NASSCOM) and the processes that need to be followed to reach there (presented by Vijay, Sr. Manager, Risk Advisory Services, KPMG). These were related to the ‘Processes’ part of the triangle.
The next one was the Technology angle and undoubtedly my favourite. This was presented by people from Cisco (Ravi Khanchandani,Regional Manager System Engineering and Jatin Sachdeva, Information Security Consultant) and it was a combinaiton of Powerpoint and demos. It was very smartly done. They talked ( and demoed) about the different products from Cisco that enables security thus helping in compliance when you look at it in a bigger context. There were four products that caught my attention
Network Admission Control Server : When a user is trying to get into a network (LAN) this NAC server quarantines the user and runs a few tests on the System he is trying to connect and once the system has been cleared of Viruses/Security compromise programs, it is allowed to enter the network. The policies ( as to what programs need to be checked or allowed on the System) can be set dynamically.
SSL VPN Solutions : Cisco Secure Desktop : This is for mobile users or users who log in from untrusted locations ( like home/cyber cafe etc). When you login to the VPN server, the user is asked to download the Cisco Secure Desktop which is a mini desktop on top of your existing OS. Policies can be set that people who use this desktop cannot move files from/to the office network. I was very impressed with this easy solution to prevent data theft and related privacy concerns.
Cisco Security Agent : This is a piece of software running on the user’s System and based on policies will allow running/installing of certain programs, block/quarantine viruses is the case arises.
MARS Dashboard(Monitoring,Analysis and Response System) : This can monitor nodes in the network (need not be a Cisco device) and helps the administrator make calls on whether there are any non-compliance issues in any of the nodes that is being monitored. If there are any real-time attacks, MARS has the flexibility to correct the problem if possible or worst case scenario isolate the device.
So if you look at all the above products, Cisco has got security covered at different levels 1) End user. 2) Network level 3)Authorization level and 4) Monitoring level. This, they say, when combined would give you the most comprehensive data security for an enterprise dealing with sensitive data. Each of the above products generate enough reports for easy understanding of the problem and take corrective measures if need be. Cool,right?
The ‘People’ angle was covered in subsequent presentations with emphasis on Cisco Services and a case study on how Cisco India went ahead with a ISO27001 certifications and what were the key learnings from that exercise.
It was a good meeting to attend and though I was not too interested in the compliance part (SOX,ISO blah blah blah), the security product display was a good learning experience. If this conference comes to your city, make it a point to attend it. It sure would be worth your time.