Cisco bolsters security with Adaptive Threat Defense

Cisco announced several new products and feature updates as part of a new program called Adaptive Threat Defense.

Cisco Systems Tuesday announced a milestone in its quest to bolster the security capabilities of its popular networking gear, unveiling a slew of new products, features and services called "Adaptive Threat Defense."

The San Jose, California, company announced the software at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. The new software includes end-point security and intrusion prevention features dubbed "Anti-X Defenses;" enhancements to Cisco's PIX firewall and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) VPN (virtual private network) products; and expanded support for the company's Network Admission Control (NAC) program.

The product improvements mark the company's biggest move in the security market since it announced the NAC program in November 2003.

The technology included in Adaptive Threat Defense (ATD) leverages Cisco's large portfolio of networking products to address security issues at different points throughout a corporate network, the company said in a statement. ATD products and features are designed to allow Cisco customers to more tightly control security threats on different network layers, by tracking network traffic, endpoints, applications and users.

Under the banner of "Anti-X Defenses," Cisco released a new version of its Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) product. Version 5.0 contains new services for detecting and preventing attacks hidden in network traffic, as well as new antivirus, antispyware and worm-mitigation features, Cisco said.

In addition, Anti-X Defenses includes an updated Cisco Security Agent (CSA), which is the cornerstone of the NAC program. Version 4.5 includes protection for spyware and other malicious code and improved security state assessments for machines running the CSA, Cisco said.

Cisco also introduced new features for its Catalyst 6500 Series Switches and 7600 Series Routers. The Cisco Anomaly Guard Module and Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector Module are designed to detect and stop distributed denial of services attacks, which network devices are flooded with malicious traffic.

The company also announced a number of features to address security threats that target network application servers and traffic, and to give network administrators the ability to manage security incidents.

Among the new features are updated SSL VPN services on the VPN 3000 Concentrator platform, designed to extend secure access and malicious code protections to more applications, and an update of the PIX Security Appliance Software that allows network administrators to create more specific security policies.

Cisco also announced that it is expanding the reach of its NAC program to support the Cisco VPN Concentrator Version 4.7 and improving the ability of NAC systems to assess the security posture of devices connecting to a network using IPS VPNs.

Since introducing the NAC program more than one year ago, Cisco has steadily expanded the program, drawing in major IT and security vendors such as IBM, Computer Associations International and McAfee to make their products compliant with the program.

In June, Cisco unveiled the first NAC-compliant products: Cisco 830 to 7200 series routers, and versions of the Cisco Secure Access Control Server, Cisco Security Agent and CiscoWorks Security Information Management Solution.

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