This blog was written by David Gormley, Cloud Security Product Marketing Manager at Cisco.

Cybercriminals have been refining their strategies and tactics for over twenty years and attacks have been getting more sophisticated. A successful cyberattack often involves a multi-step, coordinated effort. Research on successful breaches shows that hackers are very thorough with the information they collect and the comprehensive plans they execute to understand the environment, gain access, infect, move laterally, escalate privileges and steal data.

An attack typically includes at least some of the following steps:

  • reconnaissance activities to find attractive targets
  • scanning for weaknesses that present a good entry point
  • stealing credentials
  • gaining access and privileges within the environment
  • accessing and exfiltrating data
  • hiding past actions and ongoing presence

This whole process is sometime called the “attack lifecycle” or “kill chain” and a successful attack requires a coordinated effort throughout the process. The steps above involve many different elements across the IT infrastructure including email, networks, authentication, endpoints, SaaS instances, multiple databases and applications. The attacker has the ability to plan in advance and use multiple tactics along the way to get to the next step.

Security teams have been busy over the past couple of decades as well.  They have been building a robust security practice consisting of tools and processes to track activities, provide alerts and help with the investigation of incidents.  This environment was built over time and new tools were added as different attack methods were developed. However, at the same time, the number of users, applications, infrastructure types, and devices has increased in quantity and diversity.  Networks have become decentralized as more applications and data have moved to the cloud. In most instances, the security environment now includes over 25 separate tools spanning on-prem and cloud deployments. Under these conditions, it’s difficult to coordinate all of the activities necessary to block threats and quickly identify and stop active attacks.

As a consequence, organizations are struggling to get the visibility they need across their IT environment and to maintain their expected level of effectiveness. They are spending too much time integrating separate products and trying to share data and not enough time quickly responding to business, infrastructure, and attacker changes.  The time has come for a more coordinated security approach that reduces the number of separate security tools and simplifies the process of protecting a modern IT environment.

Cisco Umbrella with SecureX can make your security processes more efficient by blocking more threats early in the attack process and simplifying the investigation and remediation steps. Umbrella handles over 200 billion internet requests per day and uses fine-tuned models to detect and block millions of threats. This “first-layer” of defense is critical because it minimizes the volume of malicious activity that makes its way deeper into your environment.  By doing this, Umbrella reduces the stress on your downstream security tools and your scarce security talent.  Umbrella includes DNS Security, a secure web gateway, cloud-delivered firewall, and cloud access security broker (CASB) functionality. But no one solution is going to stop all threats or provide the quickly adapting environment described above. You need to aggregate data from multiple security resources to get a coordinated view of what’s going on in your environment but can’t sink all your operating expenses into simply establishing and maintaining the integrations themselves.

That’s where Cisco SecureX comes in. Cisco SecureX connects the breadth of Cisco’s integrated security portfolio – including Umbrella– and your other security tools for a consistent experience that unifies visibility, enables automation, and strengthens your security across network, endpoints, cloud, and applications. Let’s explore some of the capabilities of SecureX, the Cisco security platform and discuss what they mean in the context of strengthening breach defense.

  • Visibility: Our SecureX platform provides visibility with one consolidated view of your entire security environment. The SecureX dashboard can be customized to view operational metrics alongside your threat activity feed and the latest threat intelligence. This allows you to save time that was otherwise spent switching consoles. With the Secure threat response feature, you can accelerate threat investigation and take corrective action in under two clicks.
  • Automation: You can increase the efficiency and precision of your existing security workflows via automation to advance your security maturity and stay ahead of an ever-changing threat landscape. SecureX pre-built, customizable playbooks enable you to automate workflows for phishing and threat hunting use cases. SecureX automation allows you to build your own workflows including collaboration and approval workflow elements to more effectively operate as a team.   It enables your teams to share context between SecOps, ITOps, and NetOps to harmonize security policies and drive stronger outcomes.
  • Integration: With SecureX, you can advance your security maturity by connecting your existing security infrastructure via out-of-the-box interoperability with third party solutions. In addition to the solution-level integrations we’ve already made available; new, broad, platform-level integrations have also been and continue to be developed. In short, you’re getting more functionality out of the box so that you can multiply your use cases and realize stronger outcomes.

Pre-built playbooks focus on common security use cases, and you can easily build your own using an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface. One example of the coordination between Umbrella and SecureX is in the area of phishing protection and investigation. Umbrella provides protection against a wide range of phishing attacks by blocking connections to known bad domains and URLs. SecureX extends this protection with a phishing investigation workflow that allows your users to forward suspicious email messages from their inbox. In addition, a dedicated inspection mailbox starts an automated investigation and enrichment process. This includes data from multiple solutions including Umbrella, email security, endpoint protection, threat response and malware analysis tools. Suspicious email messages are scraped for various artifacts and inspected in the Threat Grid sandbox. If malicious artifacts are identified, a coordinated response action, including approvals, is carried out automatically, in alignment with your regular operations process.

The SecureX platform is included with Cisco security solutions to advance the value of your investment. It connects Cisco’s integrated security portfolio, your other security tools and existing security infrastructure with out-of-the-box interoperability for a consistent experience that unifies visibility, enables automation, and strengthens your security across network, endpoints, cloud, and applications.


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