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Cisco Talos — Our not-so-secret threat intel advantage

Security tools are only as good as the intelligence and expertise that feeds them. We’re very fortunate to have our security technologies powered by Cisco Talos, one of the largest and most trusted threat intelligence groups in the world. Talos is comprised of highly skilled researchers, analysts, and engineers who provide industry-leading visibility, actionable intelligence, and vulnerability research to protect both our customers and the internet at large.

The Talos team serves as a crucial pillar of our innovation — alerting customers and the public to new threats and mitigation tactics, enabling us to quickly incorporate protection into our products, and stepping in to help organizations with incident response, threat hunting, compromise assessments and more. Talos can also be found securing large-scale events such as the Super Bowl, and working with government and law enforcement organizations across the globe to share intelligence.

With Cisco’s vast customer base and broad portfolio — from routers and switches to email and endpoints — Talos has visibility into worldwide telemetry. Once a threat is seen, whether it’s a phishing URL or an IP address hosting malware, detections are created and indicators of compromise are categorized and blocked across our Cisco Secure portfolio.

Talos also leverages its unique insights to help society as a whole better understand and combat the cyberattacks facing us daily. During the war in Ukraine, the group has taken on the additional task of defending over 30 critical infrastructure providers in the country by directly managing and monitoring their endpoint security.

How Talos powers XDR

The reality of security today is that organizations must be constantly ready to detect and contain both known and unknown threats, minimize impact, and keep business going no matter what happens in the cyber realm. In light of hybrid work, evolving network architectures, and increasingly insidious attacks, all organizations must also be prepared to rapidly recover if disaster strikes, and then emerge stronger. We refer to this as security resilience, and Talos plays a critical role in helping our customers achieve it.

For several years, our integrated, cloud-native Cisco SecureX platform has been delivering extended detection and response (XDR) capabilities and more. SecureX allows customers to aggregate, analyze, and act on intelligence from disparate sources for a coordinated response to cyber threats.

Through the SecureX platform, intelligence from Talos is combined with telemetry from our customers’ environments — including many third-party tools — to provide a more complete picture of what’s going on in the network. Additionally, built-in, automated response functionality helps to speed up and streamline mitigation. This way, potential attacks can be identified, prioritized, and remediated before they lead to major impact.

For XDR to be successful, it must not only aggregate data, but also make sense of it. Through combined insights from various resources, SecureX customers obtain the unified visibility and context needed to rapidly prioritize the right threats at the right time. With SecureX, security analysts spend up to 90 percent less time per incident.

Accelerating threat detection and response

One of Australia’s largest universities, Deakin University, needed to improve its outdated security posture and transition from ad hoc processes to a mature program. Its small security team sought an integrated solution to simplify and strengthen threat defense.

With a suite of Cisco security products integrated through SecureX, Deakin University was able to reduce the typical investigation and response time for a major threat down from over a week to just an hour. The university was also able to decrease its response time for malicious emails from an hour to as little as five minutes.

“The most important outcome that we have achieved so far is that security is now a trusted function.”

– Fadi Aljafari, Information Security and Risk Manager, Deakin University

Also in the education space, AzEduNet provides connectivity and online services to 1.5 million students and 150,000 teachers at 4,300 educational institutions in Azerbaijan. “We don’t have enough staff to monitor every entry point into our network and correlate all the information from our security solutions,” says Bahruz Ibrahimov, senior information security engineer at AzEduNet.

The organization therefore implemented Cisco SecureX to accelerate investigations and incident management, maximize operational efficiency with automated workflows, and decrease threat response time. With SecureX, AzEduNet has reduced its security incidents by 80 percent.

“The integration with all our Cisco Secure solutions and with other vendors saves us response and investigation time, as well as saving time for our engineers.”

– Bahruz Ibrahimov, Senior Information Security Engineer, AzEduNet

Boosting cyber resilience with Talos

The sophistication of attackers and sheer number of threats out there today make it extremely challenging for most cybersecurity teams to effectively stay on top of alerts and recognize when something requires their immediate attention. According to a survey by ESG, 81 percent of organizations say their security operations have been affected by the cybersecurity skills shortage.

That’s why Talos employs hundreds of researchers around the globe — and around the clock — to collect and analyze massive amounts of threat data. The group uses the latest in machine learning logic and custom algorithms to distill the data into manageable, actionable intelligence.

“Make no mistake, this is a battle,” said Nick Biasini, head of outreach for Cisco Talos, who oversees a team of global threat hunters. “In order to keep up with the adversaries, you really need a deep technical understanding of how these threats are constructed and how the malware operates to quickly identify how it’s changing and evolving. Offense is easy, defense is hard.”

Maximizing defense against future threats  

Earlier this year, we unveiled our strategic vision for the Cisco Security Cloud to deliver end-to-end security across hybrid, multicloud environments. Talos will continue to play a pivotal role in our technology as we execute on this vision. In addition to driving protection in our products, Talos also offers more customized and hands-on expertise to customers when needed.

Cisco Talos Incident Response provides a full suite of proactive and emergency services to help organizations prepare for, respond to, and recover from a breach — 24 hours a day. Additionally, the recently released Talos Intel on Demand service delivers custom research unique to your organization, as well as direct access to Talos security analysts for increased awareness and confidence.

Enhance your intelligence + security operations

Visit our dedicated Cisco Talos web page to learn more about the group and the resources it offers to help keep global organizations cyber resilient. Then, discover how XDR helps Security Operations Center (SOC) teams hunt for, investigate, and remediate threats.

Watch video: What it means to be a threat hunter


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