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Cisco secures IoT, keeping security closer to networking

The use of unmanaged and IoT devices in enterprises is growing exponentially, and will account for 55.7 billion connected devices by the end of 2025. A critical concern is deploying IoT devices without requisite security controls. 

While these numbers are numbing, their reality is undeniable. 90% of customers believe digitization has accelerated the importance placed upon security. The World Economic Forum now lists cybersecurity failure as a critical threat, and estimates a gap of more than 3 million security experts worldwide, hindering secure deployments at scale. Furthermore, 83% of IoT-based transactions happen over plaintext channels and not SSL, making them especially risky. 

Cisco’s solution  

Securing an IoT device can be achieved either through securing the IoT device itself, or hardening the network it accesses. Securing devices can be cumbersome, requiring complex manufacturing partnerships and increasing unit prices, thereby reducing adoption. On the other hand, securing the network is always desirable as it helps secure access, encrypt traffic, and ease management.  

Being a leader in both security and networking, Cisco continues to bring security closer to networking, providing the network with built-in security, and enabling the network to act both as sensor and as an enforcer. The convergence of security and networking leverages the network’s intelligence and visibility to enable more-informed decisions on policy and threats. 

Cisco uniquely integrates security and networking, for instance we recently integrated Cisco Secure Firewall to operate on Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series switches. Additionally, Secure Firewall can be deployed in a containerized form, on-premises and in clouds. Cisco Secure Firewall classifies traffic and protects applications while stopping exploitation of vulnerable systems. Additionally, we offer Identity Services Engine with AI Endpoint Analytics to passively identify IoT devices and apply segmentation policies. Furthermore, Cisco offers management flexibility by integrating with Cisco Defense Orchestrator and DNA Center and with existing customer tools like SIEMs and XDRs. 

Let’s look at three use cases where the addition of Secure Firewall capability on Catalyst 9000 Series switches solves real world problems: 

Use case 1: Securing the Smart Building: This solution is ideal to secure smart buildings, converging various IoT systems into a single IT-managed network infrastructure. Smart buildings lower the operational and energy costs. Smarter building systems, however, pose serious security risks as these include so many unmanaged devices such as window shades, lighting, tailored HVAC, and more. One of the methods to secure smart buildings is to control access to avoid manipulation of sensors. Such control is attained with a networking switch with enhanced firewall capability. The firewall ensures granular segmentation, directing policies for traffic generated out of IoT devices, providing access to the right users. This integration also brings security closer to endpoints, making policy orchestration simpler. 

Use Case 2: Centrally manage isolated IoT network clusters: IoT devices which communicate with each other in the same subnet typically cannot be routed, which is a challenge. By default, most IoT networks are configured in the same subnet, making it difficult to manage them centrally. Administrators are forced to physically connect to the IoT network to manage and collect telemetry. Furthermore, IoT vendors often charge hefty amounts to update IP addresses of devices. Cisco Secure Firewall, hosted on the Catalyst switch, solves this problem and not only inspects traffic from the IoT network but also translates duplicate IoT IP addresses to unique global IP addresses using NAT for centralized management of isolated IoT networks.  

Use Case 3: Securely encrypt IoT traffic passing through a shared IT network: At airports, for example, multiple vendors manage unique systems such as baggage, air quality, biometric access control, etc, which share a common network. IoT traffic is usually in plain text, making it susceptible to packet sniffing, eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, and other such exploits. The IPSec capability on Cisco Secure Firewall encrypts IoT traffic, securing data transfer and reducing risk.  

Cisco’s IoT initiatives join the once disconnected worlds of IT and IoT, unifying networking and security. For further details refer to the At-A Glance and see how and an Australian oil company, Ampol, fortified its retail IoT with Cisco Secure! 


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