Guarding Against Threats to Virtual and Cloud Environments: 3 Tools
For all the benefits of embracing the Cloud or virtualization – and there are plenty – doing so can open an organization up to a number of new challenges. Not enough to make Cloud or virtualization solutions worth avoiding, but challenges nonetheless. The improvements these solutions offer will likely always make them appealing to organizations. Operating those solutions safely and effectively simply requires IT to take an amended approach to security.
Here are three common security challenges faced by organizations seeking to utilize the Cloud or virtualization:
Challenge #1: Strict regulations against public Cloud use
Many organizations are subject to stringent privacy regulations which preempt them from making use of the public Cloud. These restrictions apply even if that usage is part of a security regiment. So, take a solution like Cisco Advanced Malware Protection (AMP), which extends past “point-in-time detection” and is instead suited to take on the entirety of the attack continuum: before, during and after an attack. Some of AMP’s capabilities, such as big data and advanced analytics, are most effective when they’re delivered via the Cloud.
It seems like those regulations will keep organizations from enjoying the benefits of AMP, right? Actually, that’s not the case thanks to Cisco’s AMP Private Cloud Virtual Appliance. This appliance performs many of the same functions as a standard deployment. The main difference? Its big data analytics, policies, detections, etc. are all stored on premises.
Should an unknown threat strike, the AMP Private Cloud Virtual Appliance is able to securely connect to Cisco’s public security intelligence network to accurately identify what it’s up against. This line of communication is highly secure and anonymized to ensure the solution doesn’t fall out of compliance with public Cloud restrictions.
In addition, AMP Private Cloud Virtual Appliances are designed to grow along with the needs of the organization. Multiple appliances can be added to the environment and each supports up 10,000 connectors, allowing organizations to easily add on as needed.
Challenge #2: Inadequate post-virtualization visibility
Part of the reason why organizations pursue virtualization in the first place is to be able to quickly make changes to their deployments based on need. However, the flexibility of virtualization solutions can make for problems. Management blind spots can be created by rapid changes to the environment’s layout or its configuration. If one of these changes is executed incorrectly by a staffer – and system management tools don’t notice the error – the organization’s network can be put at serious risk.
Cisco’s Next Generation Intrusion Protection System for VMware (NGIPSv) blends industry-respected threat protection and smart security automation with increased visibility into the virtual environment. Should a change be made to the network which results in a policy violation or a risky corporate exposure, NGIPSv can alert IT about the misconfiguration. This ensures any possible exposures are caught by IT and not an outsider who is looking to cause problems.
Since it is software-based, NGIPSv can also perform a number of tasks which a physical appliance couldn’t manage. These include:
- being deployed in existing hardware and immediately beginning the process of monitoring traffic
- monitoring locations which lack IT security resources
- supervising portions of the network where it would be unfeasible to deploy physical appliances
Challenge #3: Juggling physical and virtual security
Consistency is a critical component of security. If a security approach isn’t unified across both virtual and physical environments, it makes more work for IT and could result in gaps which could turn organizations into prey for hackers.
There’s no such concern with Cisco’s Adaptive Security Virtual Appliance (ASAv). This solution brings Cisco’s renowned firewall capabilities to virtual environments. It runs off of the same software as Cisco’s physical Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA), delivering a unified, dependable approach to network security. As security needs evolve, it’s possible to grow, minimize, or relocate workloads protected by ASAv to cover both physical and virtual infrastructures.
Thanks to their shared software, ASAv is able to support many of the same features found on ASA. The exceptions in this case are clustering and multiple contexts, which can’t be handled by ASAv. It is however equipped to manage:
- site-to-site VPN
- remote-access VPN
- clientless VPN functionalities
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