Datacentre security techniques transferable to IoT: Cisco

The networking giant says because it is good at securing datacentre traffic, it can do the same for Internet of Things devices.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

If a connected car is simply a datacentre on wheels, then why not trust a networking giant to help secure it and transfer its existing knowledge into a new realm of security?

At least that is the idea put forward by SVP and general manager of Cisco's Internet of Things (IoT) and Applications Division Rowan Trollope.

Trollope told ZDNet at the company's Cisco Live event in Melbourne on Wednesday that IoT was not a radical departure for a traditionally networking-focused organisation.

"There are some unique problems, and we are thinking about those, but we are also taking our existing technologies and applying them to these new use cases," he said.

"It's a traditional computer security problem ... so we are doing that same kind of thing for cars and for other kinds of devices, and some of that security lives in the network itself."

Using the example of a web browser within a connected car, Trollope said the company could use its existing cloud-based URL filtering technologies to protect a user in the car heading to a malicious site.

"It's not that it is a radically different problem," Trollope told ZDNet.

While the company has appeared to move quickly from pushing software-defined networking (SDN) to its new intent-based paradigm, Trollope said to journalists that they shouldn't confuse "marketing with underlying technology".

"I don't view intent-based networking and SDN as two discrete buckets," he said. "One is an outgrowth of the other, so conceptually, software-defined networking in my, perhaps simplistic view, is the simple idea of separating software and hardware in the network.

"That's really underpinning the concept of intent-based networking, which is quite simply how do we drive automation into the network using machine learning and data to establish policy and rules ... it relies on and uses the underlying concepts of software-defined networking, but it's not something discrete and totally different -- that's how I would think about it."

At a similar event in June last year, CEO Chuck Robbins said the company had to completely rewrite 25 years of software in order to develop its DNA-Center -- including undertaking a modernisation of its internetwork operating system.

"We had to rewrite IOS to a modern data model, API-structured operating system ... that was foundational for us to do any of this," Robbins said at the time.

"We've had all this data in the network for all of these years, but it's been sitting on islands, or on routers and switches, and around infrastructure. The DNA-Center is going to serve as an analytics platform where we are going to stream the analytics, and we now have the ability to provide insights, context, and analytics from the application to the datacentre, to the core enterprise network, and combine it with all the threat intelligence we have in our security portfolio."

Earlier this year, the company announced it had added analytics tools to its intent networking portfolio, including algorithms monitoring datacentre health, IoT intelligence, and software that monitors relationships between applications.

On Monday, Cisco announced it had updated its Tetration analytics platform with security tools designed to segment applications, identify vulnerabilities and exposure, and manage processes. The company said Tetration could prove effective against threats such as Spectre and Meltdown.

SonicWall said on Tuesday that it had seen a Cambrian explosion of side-channel attacks since Google revealed it had found the pair of process vulnerabilities.

Disclosure: Chris Duckett travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Cisco.

Related Coverage

Editorial standards