Cisco Takes on BYOD Security Issues

Michael Vizard
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The Consumerism of IT

Will the consumerization of IT be the final nail in the internal IT support desk?

Recognizing that the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon has created a number of security challenges, Cisco today rolled out enhancements to the Cisco Identity Services Engines (ISE) platform meant to unify the way security is managed.


As wireless networks become a core part of enterprise networks everywhere, Sylvia Hooks, Cisco senior marketing manager for mobility, says IT organizations need to integrate the management of wireless networks with the rest of the enterprise. Many organizations, she noted, started out treating wireless networks as a separate overlay, but as mobile computing continues to evolve, she says the time to unify the management of networking across the enterprise is at hand.


In addition to driving down operational costs, Hooks says that because of users accessing corporate resources, using different devices from a variety of places will require a lot more nuance in terms of how security policies need to be applied. To provide that capability, Cisco is adding support to a number of third-party mobile device management systems, while also giving organizations the option to allow end users to self-provision devices based on security polices crafted by the IT organization.

 

Cisco is also updating its Unified Wireless Network Software. The 7.2 release doubles the video scalability for multicast video, allows one controller to support up to 30,000 devices, and provides IPv6 support for client devices. At the same time, Cisco is integrating management tools that allow IT organizations to get a better handle on the application performance being experienced by actual end users.

 


While the debate over BYOD continues to rage in some quarters, Hooks says that, for the most part, the issue has been decided in favor of end users demanding more flexibility and accessibility. Instead of continuing to war with end users over BYOD, Hooks says the better part of valor for most IT organizations is to find ways for the company to dynamically apply security policies that allow end users to provision those devices with as little IT intervention as possible.

 

Cisco may be ahead of where most organizations are today in regards to BYOD. But as the march towards the consumerization of IT continues, it's becoming clear that IT organizations are going to not only need new tools to manage the network, but also new strategies to deal with the new realities of IT.



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Mar 23, 2012 11:22 AM Ralph Shaw Ralph Shaw  says:

It's great to see Cisco finally embracing BYOD, but unless you're planning to fork lift in tons of new equipment, what do you do?

Small businesses everywhere are looking at BYOD and seeing the traditional vendor's solutions and gulping at the potentially enormous costs, with a promise that maybe this will work?  For them, the ROI decision simply doesn't stack up at the small scale. Compared to 50 thousand employees on a campus, big players are working off fundamentally different costs and pay backs.

In reality, Small Businesses have been 'BYOD' before the industry stuck a label on it. But it's always been at a compromise-to usability and security.

We see the opportunity to deliver immediate and meaningful ROI for Small Businesses planning to deploy, or simply experiment with Bring-Your-Own-iPad. There is NO upfront investment in either network equipment or MDM infrastructure, but that doesn't mean you're skimping usability or security, because http://www.isimplyconnect.com is a by the book implementation of Apple's best-practice iPad VPN deployment:

-     Deployed Over-The-Air

-     X.509 Certificate Enrolment (via SCEP)

-     VPN On Demand

-     IPSec with mutual PKI-based authentication

Small businesses need to be able to see and start with the real benefits of BOYD by first enabling secure access to the corporate network. If your iPad doesn't add immediate value at this point, then no amount of MDM or new networking kit that is going to be a good investment. Add the MDM later, not before and only if it's worth it. As for networking equipment, we don't believe small businesses can justify (to themselves) upgrading expensive kit as an experiment and we're betting that they won't need to if they use iSimplyConnect.

Ralph Shaw, CEO Asavie Technologies

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Mar 28, 2012 11:30 AM IT Support Girl IT Support Girl  says:

It is amazing how many organizations are embracing BYOD. We are starting to see more schools getting concerned and needing to implement better strategies as well. Thanks again for the great insight.

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Mar 29, 2012 3:32 AM Jack Marsal Jack Marsal  says:

Cisco is moving in the right direction. A single 'pane of glass' providing visibility and control over wired and wireless, managed and unmanaged (BYOD) devices will help drive down costs and improve security. Other NAC vendors such as ForeScout (see http://goo.gl/THGMK) are already doing this.

Cisco ISE, while better than their previous NAC products, is still behind the leaders in terms of ease of operation and integration with other security systems. Tolly Group has just done an analysis of ISE: http://goo.gl/8XfxY

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