Cisco expands cloud-based security services

In the latest chapter of what it calls its "Secure Borderless Network" initiative, Cisco Wednesday is announcing expanded reporting capability for its ScanSafe Web-filtering service as well as the addition of a data-loss prevention option for the company's cloud-based e-mail security service.

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Cisco, which acquired ScanSafe in December, says its offering now provides user behavior trends, details on any company policy violations, malware statistics and forensic analysis information. "It shows you how people use your network for Internet [access], which Web sites they're visiting, which sites you're blocking," says Garry Scott, Cisco product marketing manager.

NewPage, a Miamisburg, Ohio, coated-paper manufacturer, uses ScanSafe to control Web usage for thousands of employees and has been testing the new reporting tool for a few months and has seen a dramatic improvement.

"The old version just did basic reports, but the new version allows you to process a year's worth of data, using at least 87 different attributes, extremely quickly," says Paul Moorman, information technology strategist at NewPage.

Moorman says NewPage decided to block the vast majority of Web sites in China since it appears that country is an originating point for a very high level of viruses, and at this point there's no specific business need to have access to most Chinese Web sites. NewPage, which has about 7,000 employees, is gradually moving away from an MPLS-based network to use of Internet pipes. This has proven economical, and Moorman says he expects use of Internet-based hosted services to continue to grow at the firm.

Cisco also announced it's adding a DLP and encryption capability to its IronPort-based hosted e-mail security service, which customers can use in lieu of installing the IronPort appliance on their own premises.

The DLP service option for the cloud is based on the technology Cisco licenses from RSA and already added to the IronPort appliance last year.

Cisco says the new cloud-service option includes a way to transmit TLS-protected e-mail from the customer's e-mail server to a Cisco data center -- Cisco claims it will have 33 of these data centers globally by year-end -- where the e-mail would be filtered to make sure it doesn't contain sensitive information before re-transmitting it.

Cisco acknowledges it's competing against Google's Postini service, which has some basic DLP features.

Moorman says he expects NewPage might try the Cisco e-mail security service with DLP in the future, but noted the his company has a multi-year contract left to run with the Google Postini service, and that his contract with ScanSafe is actually through Postini. Cisco says there are no immediate plans to change the ScanSafe partner arrangements.

Pricing on the ScanSafe service typically runs $2 to $5 per user per month, and the DLP feature in Cisco's e-mail security service costs between $1.25 to $1.50 per user per month.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "Cisco expands cloud-based security services" was originally published by Network World.

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