Gee Rittenhouse says security needs to be simpler.
“The top threat today isn’t related to any particular technology,” said Rittenhouse, Cisco’s new SVP and GM of the security business group. “The threat landscape is only getting more complicated so we’re dealing with that by trying to simplify and trying to automate — to simplify the day in the life of security professionals. The complexity and the amount they have to deal with is becoming overwhelming. And, quite, frankly, people are taking advantage of that.”
In an exclusive interview with SDxCentral, Rittenhouse (pictured) outlined his three-part plan to accomplish this.
1. Integrated Platform
Before taking on the role of Cisco’s new security chief, Rittenhouse spent the last two years as SVP of engineering, security at the company. Rittenhouse took over from David Ulevitch, who is taking on an advisory role within Cisco working closely with David Goeckeler, EVP and GM of Cisco’s networking and security business on special projects.
During his time as SVP of engineering, he focused on integrating Cisco’s security portfolio. “Complexity really is the friend of security, the enemy of keeping people safe,” Rittenhouse said. “We drive a lot of simplicity and automation in the portfolio by integrating it together.”
To date, Cisco has primarily done this by focusing on the back end. “I’m also now focusing on the front end,” he added. “So our customers, with a single portal, a single view of the threat landscape, can navigate across all of the pieces of the portfolio and double and triple click on a particular threat so they can use the portal in a simple way.”
2. To The Cloud — And Beyond
The second piece of the simplification plan involves moving (faster) to the cloud. Cisco started this a little over a year ago with the launch of its Umbrella product line. It helps create a secure Internet gateway, thus securing access to the cloud.
In July 2017 Cisco acquired Observable Networks to extend its Stealthwatch network visibility tool to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure public cloud infrastructures. It rebranded the product as Cisco Stealthwatch Cloud.
“We also have an email proxy moving to the cloud, as well as CASB,” Rittenhouse said. He’s referring to Advanced Malware Protection (AMP), which now includes cloud email security. This will give companies a single dashboard to monitor malware activity across laptops, mobile devices, firewalls, routers, web email, and Internet gateways.
And Cisco acquired cloud access security broker (CASB) Cloudlock in August 2016 for $293 million.
“We’ll be moving more and more of our portfolio to the cloud to really form a cloud edge,” Rittenhouse said.
While SD-WAN isn’t one of the Cisco technologies that falls into Rittenhouse’s bucket, it will play a role in securing the edge, he said. He cited the new software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployment option for the company’s Tetration analytics platform, and pointed to an earlier interview with Jeff Reed, SVP of product management for Cisco’s security business group. In that interview, Reed hinted at some type of bundled SD-WAN security product in the works.
“These things are now all focused on this cloud edge,” Rittenhouse said. “With SD-WAN as an overlay, by being able to provide a data fabric that’s programmable and agile, you can layer these cloud security functions on top of it much more easily.”
3. Managed Security Services
Finally, the third part of Rittenhouse’s security strategy involves a laser-sharp focus on telecom operators and service provider customers. “It’s moving toward allowing the telecom providers to offer managed security services so they can start to go up the security stack on behalf of enterprise and end customers and continue to add value-added services on top of this portfolio.”
Cisco rolled out its first such offering in February, with a bundle of cloud-based endpoint security products packaged as a managed security service provider (MSSP) portfolio. The same month Cisco teamed up with Rackspace to offer Cisco’s next-generation firewalls to the managed cloud provider’s customers.
“That allows us to take the portfolio and make it easy to consume,” Rittenhouse said. “Our overall, high-level strategy is a world-class portfolio that’s integrated together, but we’re doing it in a way that focuses on new routes to market with MSSPs and the motion going into cloud and cloud edge.”