Thursday 30 May 2024

Navigating DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) with Secure Workload

Over the past decade, the cyber threat landscape has undergone a significant transformation, escalating from isolated attacks by lone wolves to sophisticated, coordinated breaches by state-sponsored entities and organized crime groups. During this period of change, cybersecurity has often been a secondary thought for enterprises, frequently addressed through reactive measures insufficient to counteract such advanced threats. However, we’re witnessing a pivotal shift, predominantly driven by regulatory bodies, toward establishing harmonized guidelines that can keep pace with the dynamic nature of cyber threats.

The Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) represents one such proactive stride in this direction. Targeted at the European Union (EU) financial sector and built around five core pillars, DORA advocates for a risk-based framework  that enhances the sector’s capabilities to prevent, respond to, and recover from cyber incidents.

Navigating DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) with Secure Workload
Figure 1: DORA Core Pillars

How can you leverage Secure Workload to prepare for DORA?

While DORA does not dictate precise technical requirements, it provides the groundwork for a risk-based shift in cybersecurity. Secure Workload serves as a pivotal tool in this transition, enabling organizations to understand risk, prevent and mitigate risk, and report risks associated with their application workloads.

1. Understanding Risk

To understand risk, you must have visibility to know what is happening in your environment. Secure Workload delivers in-depth insights into how your workloads communicate and behave, including identifying any vulnerable packages installed. You can quickly answer questions such as:

◉ “Are my workloads utilizing approved enterprise services for common services such as DNS or NTP?”
◉ “Am I vulnerable to a specific vulnerability?
◉ “What is the risk of that vulnerability” Is it easily exploitable?
◉ “Are my workloads using insecure or obsolete transport session protocols and ciphers?”
◉ “Are my financial application workloads communicating to non-production environments?
◉ “How is my financial application communicating to external dependencies?”
◉ “Is it communicating to malicious networks?”

Navigating DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) with Secure Workload
Figure 2: Application Dependency Map and Traffic Flow Search

Navigating DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) with Secure Workload
Figure 3: Vulnerability Risk Information Distribution

2. Preventing and Mitigating Risk

Once the risk is understood, it is time to act. This action can take the form of proactive controls and compensating controls.

◉ Proactive Controls: Secure Workload microsegmentation policies allow you to create fine-grained allow-list policies for applications by discovering their dependencies. Additionally, guardrail policies can be established to restrict communications from risk-prone environments to your production workloads, such as non-production cannot talk to production workloads, or the PCI Cardholder Environment cannot talk to PCI Out-of-Scope or perhaps OT network cannot communicate with the data center, allowing to contain lateral movement and reduce the blast radius.

Navigating DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) with Secure Workload
Figure 4: Proactive Segmentation Controls with Microsegmentation

◉ Compensating Controls: Even in the worst-case scenario, where a new zero-day vulnerability is disclosed or ransomware hits the organization, Secure Workload can rapidly act on this and restrict For example, you can quarantine a workload communication based on multiple attributes, such as CVE information, CVE Score, or even the access vectors access vectotr assestment.You can also choose to leverage Virtual Patch through the Secure Firewall integration to protect your workloads against exploits while the patch is applied. Even in the scenario that a workload changes its behavior (e.g., from trusted to untrusted due to an intrusion event or malware event) you can leverage Secure Firewall intelligence through FMC (Firewall Management Center) to quarantine workloads.

Navigating DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) with Secure Workload
Figure 5: Compensating Control with Virtual Patch

Navigating DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) with Secure Workload
Figure 6: Change-in Behavior Controls

3. Reporting Risk

DORA mandates to report major ICT-related incidents to relevant competent authorities. Because of this, reporting becomes a paramount process within the organization. Secure Workload offers multiple options for reporting, ranging from near real-time visualization dashboard and reports to detailed point-in-time retrospectives of incidents.

  • Security Dashboard: Provides a high-level overview of the security posture and hygiene of the environment.
  • Vulnerability Dashboard: Displays current CVEs within the environment along with a detailed assessment of their potential impact on confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Additional metrics such as risk score, exploitability, and complexity are also included.
  • Reporting Dashboard: Presents a detailed view tailored to specific roles like SecOps and NetOps. An important capability to mention here is how the security summary maps to a modern risk-based approach to detect adversaries MITRE ATT&CK framework. Secure Workload has multiple forensic rules mapped to the MITRE ATT&CK TTPs (Technique, Tactics, and Procedures) allowing one to identify an adversary and follow every single step taken to compromise, exploit, and exfiltrate data.

Navigating DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) with Secure Workload
Figure 7: Security Summary in Compliance Reports

Navigating DORA (Digital Operational Resilience Act) with Secure Workload
Figure 8: Forensic Event Incident

Key Takeaways

While navigating the requirements of DORA may seem daunting, the right tools can revolutionize your organization’s approach to Cyber Resilience with a risk-centric focus. Secure Workload can be instrumental in facilitating this transformation, enabling your organization to achieve:

  • Strategic Cyber Resilience: Secure Workload can be a strategic enabler for aligning with DORA’s vision. Transitioning from a reactive cybersecurity stance to a proactive, risk-based approach, prepares your organization to anticipate and counteract the evolving cyber threat landscape
  • Comprehensive Risk Insights: With granular visibility into application workload communications, dependencies, and vulnerabilities, coupled with the implementation of robust microsegmentation and compensating controls, Secure Workload equips you with the capabilities to not only understand but also to effectively mitigate risks before they materialize into breaches.


Tuesday 28 May 2024

Demystifying Multicloud Networking with Cisco Multicloud Defense

In today’s modern IT environment, most organizations leverage both the public cloud and private data center to house critical business applications. In many cases, these applications require communication with other applications to execute a particular need for the business. A common challenge among the customers I have spoken with is that they have applications in one environment that need to talk to applications in another environment, but they don’t want to send that data directly over the internet.

I don’t blame them— enterprises want to minimize their internet exposure as much as possible, hiding internal apps away from the internet.

Traditionally, organizations have leaned on dedicated connection (or cloud-native) services like AWS Direct Connect or Azure ExpressRoute to connect applications in the public cloud to the private data center. While these methods are high-speed options that facilitate connections between the public cloud and private data center, these connections are costly at scale, are not encrypted using IPsec, do not facilitate cloud-to-cloud connectivity, and require different configuration depending on the cloud environment.

To solve these challenges, Cisco has released new multicloud networking capabilities enabling scalable, secure site-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud connectivity. These features use Cisco VPN code on the Multicloud Defense Egress Gateway and BGP routing for better connectivity across your cloud environment.

Demystifying Multicloud Networking with Cisco Multicloud Defense
Figure 1: Applications are deployed everywhere

Why Multicloud Networking?

Customers can leverage multicloud networking from Cisco to build highly secure connections between applications and environments using a simplified architecture and workflow. This means organizations can easily connect applications from one environment to another at scale while also keeping operations in house to reduce cost. Our multicloud networking capabilities use widely adopted route-based VPN and BGP routing for secure connections and automated network advertisements. These multicloud networking capabilities can be described as:

◉ Site-to-cloud networking: Secure connectivity between the data center and the cloud
◉ Cloud-to-cloud networking: Secure connectivity between clouds

A Closer Look

To build site-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud connections, customers would leverage Cisco Defense Orchestrator for establishing fully orchestrated and automated IPsec tunnels between environments. The platform uses BGP for optimized, resilient routing, allowing for the secure connection between the data center and the cloud (site-to-cloud) and between clouds (cloud-to-cloud).

When building a site-to-cloud connection, customers would use Cisco Secure Firewall (either physical or virtual appliance) at the data center edge and a Multicloud Defense Gateway at the cloud edge for the beginning and the end of the connection. For multicloud deployments that require cloud-to-cloud connectivity, multiple Multicloud Defense Gateways would be used. Site-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud networking capabilities can be supported in both centralized and distributed security models.

The Multicloud Defense Gateway is based on a single-pass architecture and includes VPN code embedded in the data path pipeline. This enables direct termination of route-based IPsec VPN on the egress gateway. Route-based VPN is used with BGP routing for an automated CIDR advertisement. As soon as the IPsec tunnel is terminated on the egress gateway it advertises and learns all the networks using BGP, enabling automated traffic steering.

Demystifying Multicloud Networking with Cisco Multicloud Defense
Figure 2: Multicloud Networking

Site-to-cloud Networking

Cisco Multicloud Defense and Cisco Defense Orchestrator provide an automated way to build highly secure, full-automated VPN tunnels between data centers and cloud environments.

Demystifying Multicloud Networking with Cisco Multicloud Defense
Figure 3: Site-to-cloud networking (centralized security model)

Figure 3 shows that on-premises Secure Firewall appliances (physical or virtual) are managed by Cisco Defense Orchestrator and the Multicloud Defense egress gateways are managed by the Multicloud Defense Controller.

Cisco Defense Orchestrator orchestrates VPN configuration on the on-premises firewalls as well as talks to the Cisco Multicloud Defense Controller using APIs. This API communication between Cisco Defense Orchestrator and the Multicloud Defense Controller enables the orchestration of VPN configuration on the Multicloud Defense egress gateway(s). This approach provides customers with fully orchestrated secure IPsec connections, enabling secure connectivity between the data center and the cloud.

Demystifying Multicloud Networking with Cisco Multicloud Defense
Figure 4: Site-to-cloud networking (distributed security model)

Figure 4 shows how Cisco also supports site-to-cloud networking in a distributed security model using Cisco Defense Orchestrator, Secure Firewall, the Multicloud Defense Controller, and the Multicloud Defense egress gateway.

Cloud-to-cloud Networking

Cisco Multicloud Defense provides an automated way to build highly secure, full-automated VPN tunnels between cloud environments. IPsec tunnels are terminated on the Multicloud Defense egress gateways.

Demystifying Multicloud Networking with Cisco Multicloud Defense
Figure 5: Cloud-to-cloud networking (centralized security model)

Figure 5 shows the application VPC in AWS and the application VNet in Azure are protected using an egress gateway in the centralized deployment model. The Cisco Multicloud Defense Controller orchestrates IPsec VPN between egress gateways in Azure and AWS.

Demystifying Multicloud Networking with Cisco Multicloud Defense
Figure 6: Cloud-to-cloud networking (distributed security model)

Figure 6 shows how Cisco also supports cloud-to-cloud networking in a distributed security model using Cisco Defense Orchestrator, the Multicloud Defense Controller, and multiple Multicloud Defense egress gateways.

The new multicloud networking capabilities add fully orchestrated VPN tunnels where IPsec tunnels are formed between networks advertised in the BGP domain. In addition to secure connectivity, customers need a way to enable threat-centric policies between source and destination subnets. To solve this challenge, Cisco is enabling common security objects across on-premises Cisco firewalls and Multicloud Defense Gateways with the new Hybrid Segmentation feature.

Hybrid Segmentation

For the site-to-cloud connectivity use case, sharing network objects between Secure Firewall, Multicloud Defense, and Cisco Defense Orchestrator simplifies the hybrid segmentation policy creation process for administrators by pooling objects across into one centralized location. This reduces complexity, minimizes human error when creating new objects, and removes duplicative processes.

Static object sharing

Now static network objects can be shared between Cisco Multicloud Defense and the Cisco Defense Orchestrator.

Demystifying Multicloud Networking with Cisco Multicloud Defense
Figure 7: Hybrid Segmentation (Static Object sharing)

Figure 7 shows objects being shared between CDO and Multicloud Defense controller. Object “db” is imported from the CDO and objects “app1-aws” & “app2-aws” are automatically synchronized from the Cisco Multicloud Cloud Defense Controller.

Now administrator can configure the following policies in CDO and the Multicloud Defense Controller:

◉ Policy on CDO and Multicloud Defense Controller: Allow app1-aws, app2-aws access to db

In addition, to secure VPN connectivity features advanced threat security features can also be enabled on Multicloud Defense Egress Gateway.


Modern enterprises are becoming an increasingly complex spiderweb of connections between on-premises datacenters, branch locations, cloud VPCs, cloud regions, and cloud accounts. The traditional approach of doing direct connections between all the networks, or manually managing IPsec connectivity adds a lot of complexity. Cisco has brought together Cisco Defense Orchestrator, Secure Firewall, and Multicloud Defense to manage creating the connectivity across all the environments—ensuring applications can reach the destinations they require. Through these capabilities, customers achieve greater control while reducing cost by bringing operations in-house. In addition to building secure connections, these solutions together also simplify policy creation for customers by way of network object sharing between environments—reducing risk of human error when building policy and minimizing complexity across environments.


Saturday 25 May 2024

Why IT Leaders Are Evolving the Network into a High-Performance Digital Engine

Why IT Leaders Are Evolving the Network into a High-Performance Digital Engine

In 2024, digital methods of payment are outpacing cash. 3D printers are becoming a fixture in implant surgery and AI is adding color to the world for people who are visually impaired, using just a phone—and the network.

Society expects and depends on an ever-increasing fusion of digital and physical experiences for everyday life and business progress. This dependency is apparent in the 2024 Cisco Global Networking Trends Report, which shows a continued correlation between network investment in fueling digital experiences and the benefits felt by organizations.

When the 2,000+ IT leaders surveyed were asked about their network investment and results over the past 12 months, they quickly pointed to a clear uptick in every key business metric: increased customer and employee satisfaction, improved operational efficiency, and business growth.

The road to success has been bumpy.

Driving transformation while on empty

IT is at the helm of delivering digital experiences, and the pressure is more intense than ever. Network architectures are more sophisticated, more complex, and spread across more multiclouds and multi-vendors than ever. IT leaders are also besieged by rising cybersecurity risks, increased demand from new app and workload types, and vastly distributed workforces and infrastructures.

Even more, over a third of respondents use multiple, separate management systems or ad hoc integrations when managing their campus, branch, WAN, data center, and multicloud architectures.

Identifying or solving just one network issue is currently a dizzying swivel-chair operation as IT teams hop between various management systems. Some respondents even admit they currently have no API-driven network ecosystem integrations today, meaning these management systems are working independently and inefficiently.

After years of grappling with point solutions deployed during the pandemic, that in part led to current IT challenges, there have been bright spots.

Over a third (39%) of IT leaders shared that they currently use a platform architecture across some networking domains and strongly support platform adoption. They see the value of a platform approach leading to faster IT and business innovation (43%), improved network performance and security posture (40%), and cost savings (37%). Also clear is that a platform equals the simplicity of having software, policy, open APIs, advanced telemetry, and automation all in one place.

So, it’s no surprise that respondents said 72% of their organizations will adopt a network platform to handle one or more network domains within two years. Even more, 39% of them expect to scale across all networking domains, as shown in the maturity model below.

Why IT Leaders Are Evolving the Network into a High-Performance Digital Engine
Figure 1: This graphic compares the status of network maturity today vs. where respondents expect to be in two years.

Blind spots ahead

Deploying and managing digital experiences and ensuring everything is up and working—at scale—is top-of-mind for IT, and it hasn’t proven easy.

Providing service reliability to ensure predictable and consistent user experiences is an area for significant improvement for 41% of respondents. A key factor is the lack of visibility into complete network paths, including internet and cloud networks, according to 35% of respondents. IT leaders feel hampered in assuring the digital experience and achieving digital resilience across owned and unowned infrastructure—more on this from me at Cisco Live 2024.

The alarms are going off

As digital experiences and the network scales, so does the threat landscape. According to the report, 40% of IT leaders cite cybersecurity risks as their number one concern impacting network strategy over the next 12 months. They’re looking to combat these threats in a few ways.

First is integrating network and security processes, technology, and tools, with half of respondents making this their top network security investment over the next two years. Second is moving more security tools to the cloud to protect the increasingly distributed infrastructure and workforce better.

Like cybersecurity, we can’t have a conversation in 2024 without AI.

Speeding ahead with AI

The promise of AI is the needed reprieve for IT organizations struggling with a lack of resources and automation to handle basic operational tasks. Only 5% of respondents believe their teams are equipped to deliver the innovations needed to help steer business strategy, satisfy customers, and optimize operations.

Within two years, 60% expect AI-enabled predictive automation across all domains to manage and simplify network operations.

Data center upgrade plans for greater throughput and scalability to meet the AI need include enhanced Ethernet (56% of respondents). 59% of respondents also plan to simplify their data center network operations with AIOps within two years.

This is just a snippet from the 2024 Global Networking Trends Report. It provides a critical perspective from IT leaders who must ensure the network delivers secure digital experiences for all. One thing is clear: the network continues to be in the driver’s seat for digital experiences and a catalyst for business transformation.


Thursday 23 May 2024

The Crux of Android 14 Application Migration and Its Impact

The Crux of Android 14 Application Migration and Its Impact

First I would like to give an overview of the Meraki Systems Manager (SM) application. Systems Manager is Meraki’s endpoint management product. We support management for many different platforms, including iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows. “Managing” a device can mean monitoring its online status, pushing profiles and apps to it, and/or enforcing security policies, among other things. With Systems Manager, this management all happens through Meraki’s online interface called Dashboard. Examples and code snippets mentioned in this blog are more specific to the Android SM application.

Migration of applications to any SDK mainly includes 2 tasks from the developer’s perspective. One is – how the application behaves when installed on a device with an Android version other than the target SDK of the app. And secondly, how the app will behave when the target SDK is changed. Developers need to understand what new features, or updates of any existing feature, and its impact on the application are.

This document focuses on some of the changes impacting developers with Android 14 migration. It also covers migration of the Systems Manager app to Android 14, and challenges encountered during the migration and testing.

The Crux of Android 14 Application Migration and Its Impact

Font Scaling

In earlier versions of Android i.e., 13 Non-linear font scaling was supported up to 130% but in Android 14, it is supported up to 200% which can impact the UI of the application. In the application if font dimensions are declared using sp (scaled pixel) units there are chances of minimal impact on the application because Android framework would apply these scaling factors. Because of nonlinear scaling of font density scaling will not be accurate.
Key points

◉ TypedValue.applyDimension() to convert from sp units to pixels.
◉ TypedValue.deriveDimension() to convert pixels to sp
◉ LineHeight units should be specified in sp to manage proportion along with text size.

Background Process Limitation

Android OS is self sufficient to manage the resources efficiently by improvising performance as well. One of the pointers to achieve the same is by caching applications in the background and only when the system needs memory these applications will be removed from memory. All applications should comply with Google Play policy and hence killing of processes of other applications are strictly restricted in Android 14. Hence killBackgroundProcessess() can kill only the background processes of your own application.

Foreground Service Types

In Android 10, a new attribute was introduced to specify service type for foreground services. When using location information in the foreground service it was required to specify the type as “location”. Whereas in Android 11, mentioning service type for usage of camera or microphone in foreground service was mandated. But in Android 14 or above, all foreground services must be declared with their service types.

Some of the new service types were also introduced in Android 14 – health, remoteMessaging, shortService, specialUse and systemExempted. If service isn’t associated with any of the types specified, then it is recommended to change logic to use Workmanager or user-initiated data transfer jobs. MissingForegroundServiceTypeException will be thrown by the system in case service type is not specified.

Service type permissions need to be declared along with specifying the type in service.

android:name="android.permission.FOREGROUND_SERVICE_SYSTEM_EXEMPTED" />

            android:exported="false" />

Limitations on Implicit Intent and Pending Intent

Implicit intents are only delivered to exported components. This restriction ensures the application’s implicit intents aren’t used by any other malicious apps. Also, all mutable pending intent must specify a component or package information to the intent, if not the system throws an exception.

Implicit intent should be export similar to this:

   android:exported="true"> <!-- This must be TRUE otherwise this will throw 
exception when starting the activity-->
      <action android:name="com.example.action.APP_ACTION" />
      <category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />

If pending intent should be mutable, then component info must be specified.

val flags = if (MerakiUtils.isApi31OrHigher()) {
} else {

val pendingIntent = PendingIntent.getActivity(
   Intent(context, {
      putExtra(ACTION, KioskActivity.BREAK_OUT_SINGLE_APP)

Export behavior to be specified for Runtime-registered broadcasts

Prior to Android 13, there were no restrictions on sending broadcasts to a dynamically registered receiver when it is guarded by signature permission. Whereas in Android 13, aiming at making runtime receivers safe, an optional flag was introduced to specify whether the receiver is exported and visible to other applications. To protect apps from security vulnerabilities, in Android 14 or above context-registered receivers are required to specify a flag RECEIVER_EXPORTED or RECEIVER_NOT_EXPORTED to indicate whether receiver should be exported or not to all other apps on the device. This is exempted for system broadcasts.

   requireContext(), receiver,intentFilter(),

Non-Dismissable foreground notifications

In Android 14 or higher, foreground notification can be dismissed by the user. But exceptions have been provided for Device policy Controller (DPC) and supporting packages for enterprise.

JobScheduler reinforces callback and network behavior

Prior to Android 14, for any job running for too long, it would stop and fail silently. When App targets Android 14 and if the job exceeds the guaranteed time on the main thread, the app triggers an ANR with an error message “No response to onStartJob” or “No response to onStopJob”. It is suggested to use WorkManager for any asynchronous processing.

Changes specific to Android Enterprise

Android Enterprise is a Google-led initiative to enable the use of Android devices and apps in the workplace. It is also termed as Android for Work. It helps to manage and distribute private apps alongside public apps, providing a unified enterprise app store experience for end users.


For signing in with a Google account, GET_PROVISIONING_MODE was introduced in Android 12 or higher. In Android 14 or higher, DPC apps receive this intent which can carry the information to support either Fully managed mode or work profile mode.

wipeDevice – for resetting device

Scope of wipeData is now restricted to profile owners only. For apps targeting Android 14 or higher, this method would throw system error when called in device owner mode. New method wipeDevice to be used for resetting the device along with USES_POLICY_WIPE_DATA permission.

Newly added fields and methods


When cross-profile contacts policy is allowed in DevicePolicyManager, these fields can be used for listing all work profile contacts and phone numbers from personal apps along with READ_CONTACTS permission.

To support setting contact access policy and callerID, below methods are newly added;


Deprecated methods

Below methods are deprecated and as an alternative methods specified in the previous section should be used.


Challenges during Meraki Systems Manager App Migration

  • To ensure there was no UI breakage, we had to recheck all the code base of xml files related to all fragments, alert dialog and text size dimensions.
  • Few APIs like wipeDevice(), were not mentioned in the Android migration 14. During the testing phase it was found that wipeData() is deprecated in Android 14 and wipeDevice() was supposed to be used for factory resetting the device successfully.
  • Profile information which can be fetched along with intent GET_PROVISIONING_MODE was also missed in the migration guide. This was found during the regression testing phase.
  • requestSingleUpdate() of location manager always requires mutable pending for location updation. But nowhere in the documentation, it is prescribed about it. Due to this there were few application crashes. Had to figure this out during application testing.


Tuesday 21 May 2024

Strengthen Your Security Operations: MITRE ATT&CK Mapping in Cisco XDR

In the intricate dance between cyber attackers and defenders, understanding adversary behavior is the difference between keeping up with sophisticated attacks or falling behind the evolving threat landscape. For security teams, this often feels like trying to navigate a maze blindfolded since adversaries typically have greater insights into defender strategies than defenders have into adversarial attacks. This lack of visibility can lead to reactive cybersecurity with ineffective security operations, poor incident response, and a weak security posture.

However, there’s another approach to cybersecurity that empowers security teams to strengthen their security operations and proactively protect their environments.

Move from Reactive to Proactive Security

Enter MITRE ATT&CK coverage mapping – a groundbreaking capability coming soon to Cisco XDR that enables security teams to turn their reactive operations into a holistic cybersecurity strategy by taking a proactive approach to threats. MITRE ATT&CK coverage mapping uses an interactive heatmap to connect adversary behaviors to detections from Cisco XDR and other integrated security solutions (see Figure 1).

Strengthen Your Security Operations: MITRE ATT&CK Mapping in Cisco XDR
Figure 1: MITRE ATT&CK Coverage Map Dashboard

This helps visualize how your security tools cover every attacker tactic, technique, and procedure (TTP) from the MITRE ATT&CK framework to give you a comprehensive understanding of threats across your entire security environment. You can use the automated MITRE ATT&CK coverage map to strengthen your security operations by enhancing threat detection, identifying and closing gaps in your defenses, and improving incident response.

The MITRE ATT&CK coverage map enhances detection of sophisticated threats across your environment. Understanding the tactics and techniques used by adversaries allows you to improve your security by taking stronger preventative measures. Moreover, it simplifies analysis of potential threats while fostering a proactive cybersecurity mindset that helps your security teams increase alignment with attacker motives and methods. It helps you prioritize incidents based on the impact and relevance of specific adversary behaviors.

Visualizing and mapping attacker TTPs also helps your security teams expose gaps in threat detection. They can use the MITRE ATT&CK coverage map to gain complete visibility into how your current security tools cover the full spectrum of threats. This allows your analysts to spot holes in your security infrastructure and prioritize resources across the most critical gaps. Furthermore, identifying weaknesses in your defenses enables you to deploy new security tools to close coverage gaps and strengthen your overall security posture.

Finally, MITRE ATT&CK coverage mapping improves incident response with a standardized language for your security operations. The MITRE ATT&CK framework provides a common language that makes it easier for security teams to communicate and collaborate on incidents. When combined with a heatmap of product coverage, you can streamline the incident analysis process while reducing the burden on your security team to identify patterns across alerts. This speeds detection and investigation to reduce both mean time to detection (MTTD) and mean time to response (MTTR) for your security operations.

Bolster Your Defenses

MITRE ATT&CK coverage mapping in Cisco XDR provides comprehensive visibility into adversary TTPs, giving you a quick and complete understanding of attackers. These actionable insights empower your analysts to hunt for threats with targeted hypotheses based on MITRE ATT&CK techniques for a proactive approach to security. Your analysts can also use these insights to strengthen your overall security posture and enhance your defenses by identifying, prioritizing, and closing gaps across your security stack.

In the ever-changing world of cybersecurity, staying ahead of adversaries is imperative. With MITRE ATT&CK coverage mapping in Cisco XDR, you can enable proactive security operations, bolster your defenses, and navigate the cyber threat landscape with greater confidence.


Saturday 18 May 2024

Integrating IT and Campus Facilities for Future-Ready Learning Space

Integrating IT and Campus Facilities for Future-Ready Learning Space

Transforming the University on-campus digital experience

Recent discussions with education leaders and industry analysts show a rapidly evolving scenario in the ‘post-COVID era’, where universities face increasing pressure to enhance the on-campus experience for students, faculty, and staff. These stakeholders now have higher expectations for how they digitally engage with their institution, academic life, their peers, and the broader university community.

To meet these demands effectively, universities must modernize their physical and digital infrastructures by integrating Information Technology (IT) with campus facilities strategies. This integration enables leveraging technology to enhance resource and space management, create sustainable environments, foster dynamic teaching and learning, streamline administrative tasks, and provide well-being services through seamless digital interactions.

The integration of IT with campus facilities management not only optimizes operations but also enriches the overall experience for all stakeholders involved. Here are the priority drivers we have heard from education leaders for the Next Generation Campus:

Learning Spaces Physical and Digital Convergence

Physical and digital convergence in university campuses involves more than just offering physical spaces for academic and social activities. It encompasses providing robust connectivity, ensuring cybersecurity, and creating environmentally sustainable environments that promote collaboration, innovation, and well-being. This convergence extends beyond traditional areas like lecture theatres, libraries, and laboratories to include non-traditional learning spaces such as canteens and other open spaces where students can access online course materials, engage in social media, and interact with peers and instructors on and off campus.

Improving User Experience

Integrating IT and Campus Facilities for Future-Ready Learning Space

The campus plays various roles for students, serving as a place to access specialized equipment and a hub for social connection with peers and the institution. Beyond education, living and working on campus are significant aspects of college or university life. Integrating the IT network with campus facilities management enhances the experience for students, faculty, and staff by simplifying tasks and minimizing obstacles. Digital wayfinding systems facilitate navigation through campus buildings, while smart scheduling platforms streamline room reservations and event planning. These technological enhancements simplify tasks, minimize obstacles, and foster a more positive and productive campus experience.

Using Data to Maximize Space and Resource Utilization

Integrating IT infrastructure with campus facilities management generates a wealth of data that can inform strategic planning and decision-making processes. By utilizing the WI-FI network to capture data, universities can gain real-time insights into utilizing campus facilities, analyzing trends in space usage, energy consumption, and facility maintenance. This data empowers informed decision-making on space allocation, usage patterns, and resource optimization. Moreover, predictive analytics can anticipate future needs and challenges, enabling proactive interventions and risk mitigation strategies.

Enhancing Operational Efficiency

Integrating IT with campus facilities management streamlines administrative processes, enhancing efficiency and cost-effectiveness. This integration automates tasks such as remote working for administrative staff, contact center operations, room bookings, and maintenance requests. By reducing manual workloads and improving response times, digital systems optimize resource allocation, minimize overhead costs, and promote agility and responsiveness within the institution.

Supporting Sustainability Initiatives

Digital technologies play a crucial role in supporting sustainability initiatives on campus. Smart IoT sensors in the IT network for energy management systems optimize HVAC controls, lighting schedules, and power usage, reducing carbon emissions and energy costs. Additionally, digital tools facilitate waste management and recycling efforts, promoting sustainability awareness among the campus community.

Enhancing Safety and Security

Integrating IT with campus facilities management strengthens safety and security measures on campus. Digital signage, surveillance systems, access control mechanisms, and emergency notification platforms leverage digital technologies to monitor and respond to potential threats effectively. These systems enhance campus safety by providing real-time insights, communication capabilities, and peace of mind for students, faculty, and staff.

How Cisco Can Help

The integration of IT and campus facilities strategies represents a paradigm shift for universities to transcend traditional silos and foster a holistic approach to optimize campus operations and enhance the student experience. At the heart of this integration lies a reliable, secure, and connected digital infrastructure providing real-time insights into how physical spaces are utilized and services delivered. With combined IT and facilities strategies, universities can create smarter, more sustainable, and student-centric campus environments, with tangible benefits for operational enhancements and brand reputation.


Thursday 16 May 2024

Four ways DORA compliance is an opportunity for financial services organizations to accelerate digital transformation

Four ways DORA compliance is an opportunity for financial services organizations to accelerate digital transformation

Digital services now play a key role in the European economy. The potential catastrophic consequences of these services being compromised has driven the European Commission to introduce The Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA).

Supported by the right technology partner, financial service institutions (FSIs) can turn compliance into competitive advantage, while hardening operational resilience, across four key areas:

  1. Business continuity in the event of ICT third-party provider disruptions (Multicloud Operations & Service Substitutability).
  2. Business optimization with enhanced telemetry and insights so leaders can make the data driven decisions with confidence (Observability & Data Quality).
  3. Improved operational experience by minimizing downtime through ICT and cyber recovery plans (Back to Health).
  4. Delivering exceptional customer experience by improving service quality, availability, and robustness (Resilience by Design).

How will DORA impact your organization?

From January 2025 FSIs will be required to deliver to a set of criteria, templates, and directives to assure continued delivery of Important Business Services (IBS) to customers. These will check and prove their ability to maintain a proactive stance on security, and ensure they are able to endure, address, and recover from the impact of ICT incidents.

Why is DORA an opportunity to deliver greater resilience?

Cisco believe these regulatory requirements are an opportunity for the financial sector to further implement digital transformation across the enterprise. DORA is a catalyst to move from siloed, fragmented ‘best-of-breed’ approaches to a more holistic strategy driven by top-down cultural change. Supported with agile service delivery practices organizations can proactively and incrementally address evolving business continuity requirements. This marks an opportunity for FSI’s to rethink how they harden their operational resilience through capabilities such as IBS mapping alongside ICT and cyber operational transformation.

How can Cisco partner with you to achieve operational resilience?

Cisco’s portfolio is uniquely positioned to support FSIs in the journey to strengthen cyber resilience, ICT resilient operations, and to map important business services across four key areas:

Four ways DORA compliance is an opportunity for financial services organizations to accelerate digital transformation

Multicloud Operations & Service Substitutability to enable business continuity for FSIs in the event of ICT third-party provider disruptions (e.g. cloud provider services). We achieve this through:

  • Multicloud service automation enabling the journey to any cloud
  • Digital experience monitoring
  • Third party risk management assuring ‘substitutability’ of cloud services

Observability & Data Quality by working with FSIs to define IBS entity dependencies. Helping to create dashboards and reports that provide the insights relevant to the different business stakeholders. Key solutions in this area are:

  • Full-stack observability tooling
  • Enhancing telemetry & insights, through best-in-class data management and AI generated insights
  • IT asset management (including software and hardware) for improved accuracy and data hygiene

Back to Health by tailoring and executing ICT and cyber recovery plans. We do so through:

  • Cyber security simulation (red and purple teaming)
  • Maturity assessments for capability gap analysis
  • Resiliency testing and validation as part of the CI/CD delivery pipeline and digital twins

Resilience by Design through driving ICT operational maturity, resulting in improved service quality, availability, and robustness. This can be achieved through:

  • Improve operational effectiveness through better integration of people process technology and tools
  • An end-to-end security platform for consistent policy orchestration and implementation. Remediating security related events fast and consistently
  • Threat Intelligence & Modelling and include a ‘Shift left’ mentality in the development lifecycle.

Putting these key areas into a maturity journey context, we can assess where your organization is with regards to operational resilience. This will help with mutual understanding what is needed to take the next maturity steps as shown in the table below.

Four ways DORA compliance is an opportunity for financial services organizations to accelerate digital transformation

We have worked as a trusted partner in helping organizations globally across all verticals to achieve operational resilience. Our extensive experience of helping customers through our comprehensive portfolio of solutions and services can support each FSI’s unique journey to DORA compliance.


Tuesday 14 May 2024

Optimizing business velocity with Cisco Full-Stack Observability

Optimizing business velocity with Cisco Full-Stack Observability

Fueling digital transformation success with cost and resource optimization over applications, workloads, and components

Digital transformation comes with an irony that is not lost on the IT teams. Applications and the digital experiences they enable require cloud-based resources for which costs can easily spiral out of control. Worse, lack of visibility means that utilization of these resources can be difficult to accurately assess.

This creates a conundrum. Fast, reliable application performance depends on sufficient allocation of cloud resources to support demand, even when usage spikes. Under-resourcing in this area can cause significant performance challenges that result in very user experience. With this in mind, teams responsible for migrating workloads to the cloud or spinning up resources for new applications can often over-provision cloud resources to be on the safe side.

The more complexity that is introduced by sprawling suites of tools, containers, application programming interfaces (APIs), and serverless components, the more ways there are to incur costs. And the more ways there are to fall short of efficiency goals  as cloud resources sit idle.

As a result, technologists are under pressure to find out where costs are out of alignment and whether resources have been allocated in ways that support the business.

Taking the guesswork out of optimization

Cisco Full-Stack Observability allows operational teams to gain a broad understanding of system behavior, performance, and security threats across the entire application estate. It also equips them to understand and optimize cloud resource utilization. This optimization helps organizations lower costs by properly modulating asset utilization across workloads, paying only for what they need through right-sizing resource allocation.

It offers optimization capabilities for resolving poorly aligned cloud spend with actionable insights into hybrid costs and application resources within their established monitoring practices. While over-provisioning to avoid downtime is wasteful from both a budgetary and sustainability perspective, under-allocation presents a serious risk.

When applications are constrained by insufficient resources, the resulting poor application performance or even downtime can damage organizational reputation and revenues. With Cisco Full-Stack Observability, teams can scale up or down to ensure resources sufficiently support workloads.

Moreover, Cisco Full-Stack Observability solutions provide visibility into application-level costs alongside performance metrics down to the pod level. It helps perform granular cost analysis of Kubernetes resources, allowing FinOps and CloudOps teams to understand the composition of their cloud spend as well as the cost of resources that are idle. Armed with granular cost insights, organizations can mitigate overspending on unused resources while ensuring that critical applications have adequate resources.

Driving optimization with AI and ML

Artificial intelligence (AI) is driving change in observability practices to improve both operational and business outcomes. Cisco Full-Stack Observability combines telemetry and business context so that AI and machine learning (ML) analytics can be uniformly applied. This allows IT Operations teams to extend their value and truly be strategic enablers for their business.

For example, application resource optimization with Cisco Full-Stack Observability takes aim at inefficiencies in Kubernetes workload resource utilization. By running continuous AI and ML experiments on workloads, it creates a utilization baseline, analyzing and identifying ways to optimize resource utilization. The resulting recommendations for improvement help to maximize resource usage and reduce excessive cloud spending.

Cisco Full-Stack Observability offers capabilities, moreover, to identify potential security vulnerabilities related to the application stack and optimize the stack against these threats. It continuously monitors for vulnerabilities within applications, business transactions, and libraries with the ability to find and block exploits automatically. The result is real-time optimization without constant manual intervention.

To understand and better manage the impact of risks on the business, Cisco security solutions use ML and data science to automate risk management at multiple layers. First, code dependencies, configuration-level security vulnerabilities, and leakage of sensitive data are continually assessed. Second, business priorities are established through a measurement of risk probability and business impact.

This comprehensive approach to optimization makes Cisco Full-Stack Observability a powerful solution for modern, digital-first organizations.


Saturday 11 May 2024

Secure Firewall & Multicloud Defense: Secure Connectivity With Simplified Policy Across Clouds

Most of our large customers today have datacenters and leverage multiple clouds to maximize flexibility and agility for meeting their business needs. Traditionally, the security for these environments has rested with different teams, each having their own tools and processes. But as our application and IT environments become more interwoven, the complexity of the environments and the challenge of securing them has massively increased. Siloed tools and teams are now part of the problem, generating new gaps and blind spots. Attackers are growing more sophisticated and taking advantage of these new challenges. In fact, last year, 39% of breaches spanned multiple environments and cost organizations an average of $4.75M per breach globally.

It is time to rethink how organizations approach the hybrid-multicloud security strategy — converging the fabrics between on-premises and cloud network security to foster collaboration across teams and deliver a unified edge security strategy.

Today, we are we’re bringing on-prem and cloud security together into one unified platform through the Cisco Security Cloud to marry the power of Cisco Secure Firewall and Cisco Multicloud Defense. Combined, these solutions provide multi-environment customers with greater visibility and protection across environments, more consistent control to reduce risk, and simplified security policy creation to alleviate complex operations.

This year at RSA Conference 2024, customers can experience where security meets the network with new capabilities between these solutions — as part of our unified security platform.

Multicloud networking: Secure connectivity from ground to cloud

Imagine you have an application on-prem that needs to talk to an application in the cloud, how would you approach this challenge? Traditionally, organizations have had to rely on 3rd party native tools. However, these services can be costly — especially as you scale applications and environments. And as you scale, the complexity increases, reducing visibility and control of critical security functions. Now, by leveraging our unified platform with the Cisco Security Cloud, customers can build these connections in house with secure site-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud connectivity between applications and environments. With this, organizations will be able to securely scale hybrid cloud operations while reducing cost and maintain visibility and control of their connections and data.

Secure Firewall & Multicloud Defense: Secure Connectivity With Simplified Policy Across Clouds

New network object sharing further simplifies policy creation across multi-environments

In many cases today, organizations are building, deploying, and managing policies in silos. This disparate method strains teams — creating laborious, redundant steps in the policy building process, leads to increased risk of human error and cues the dreaded swivel chair scenario — hopping between numerous tools and platforms to build policies.

At Cisco Live EMEA, we announced general availability of network object sharing for static objects. Today at RSA Conference, we’re reducing multi-environment complexity even further with the ability to now share dynamic objects using our unified management fabric. This gives organizations a single location to pool objects, simplifying policy building and management across environments. Baked into the Cisco Security Cloud platform, this capability empowers organizations to easily share objects between Secure Firewall and Multicloud Defense, reducing complexity, removing duplicative processes, and stopping the pain of maintaining yet another case of siloed operations across separate solutions.

Secure Firewall & Multicloud Defense: Secure Connectivity With Simplified Policy Across Clouds

As we continue to innovate across the Cisco Security Cloud, synergies across the network security portfolio will continue to grow. The launch of these shared capabilities between Cisco Secure Firewall and Cisco Multicloud Defense is a significant step towards converging the fabrics of best-in-class data center and cloud security to protect customers from ground to cloud.

Looking to get started? Understand your risk by signing up for our free Cloud Visibility and Risk Report. Powered by Cisco Defense Orchestrator and Cisco Multicloud Defense, our solutions run alongside your clouds to help you understand your risk with pervasive visibility into assets and connections — our experts then provide you with actionable security insights and recommendations to better protect your infrastructure.