Security Drives Cisco’s Self-Defending Bottom Line

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Anyone who’s been around computing for a while probably remembers
scoffing at the latest and greatest in speed and memory advances over
the years as insane advances in tech nobody would ever need. We like
to jeer at Bill Gates’ infamous (and likely never spoken) “640k should
be enough for anyone” quote, but probably had a few “They’re calling
it the … get this … 486 … and it’s supposed to be, like, 66Mhz
or some crazy number. What am I gonna do with that?” ourselves.

Decades down the road of widespread computing and networking, “faster”
and “more efficient” are pretty much taken for granted. No one thinks
to jeer because the chances are good that we’re thinking of where that
extra power can go, whether it’s on a workstation in the form of extra
speed and memory, or on our nets in the form of more bandwidth and
faster routing. No one pays much attention because the packets and
bits are moving plenty fast and we’ve got other things to worry
about. Maybe, once VoIP takes hold, we’ll start hoping for more from
our network hardware. In the mean time, other considerations are more

If you need proof of that, consider today’s
announcements from Cisco regarding the Firewall Services Module
its Catalyst 6500 switches. When first unveiled a year-and-a-half
ago, the FSM was a free add-on that saw periodic updates. As of
today, pricing for a 20-firewall license will set you back $12,500
while a 100-firewall license runs at a discount: $45,000.

The new pricing scheme moves the revenue stream from the hardware
itself, well loved and considered essential among enterprise
networkers, to the services riding on top of it.

This isn’t a new trend. Sun’s own Jonathan Schwartz has spent the
last week echoing this sentiment on the server side, as Sun moves from
pushing high-end server hardware to trying to compete in the much more
tricky commodity whitebox market with tightly integrated apps and
services. More to the point, Cisco is zeroing in on the biggest
concern going, which is network security. Cisco clearly perceives
this concern as overriding any love of free beer among its customers.
Having softened us up with ads about adorable little girls unleashing
a hellstorm of viral mayhem in daddy’s network, it’s time to make the
sale. Like Sun, the question becomes how well Cisco can compete in a
well-established software market.

Here’s all the pricing data from that announcement:

20 Virtual Firewalls License     $12,500
50 Virtual Firewalls License     $25,000
100 Virtual Firewalls License     $45,000
Cisco Guard XT 5650    $90,000
Cisco Traffic Anomaly Detector XT 5600    $45,000

The last two items, the Guard XT 5650 and the Traffic Anomaly Detector
XT, are network security appliances picked up in Cisco’s recent
acquisition of Riverhead Networks. They’re aimed at protecting nets
from DDoS attacks.


» It seems there’s a security
bypass flaw
in Linksys‘ WRT54G Wireless-G Broadband Router:

Independent technology consultant Alan W. Rateliff
discovered the flaw during a client installation of a Linksys WRT54G
Wireless-G Broadband Router. After reporting the vulnerability to
Linksys, Rateliff posted a warning on a public mailing list that even
if the remote administration function is turned off, the router
provides the administration Web page to ports 80 and 443 on the WAN.

The implications are obvious: out of the box the unit gives full
access to its administration from the WAN using the default or, if the
user even bothered to change it, an easily guessed password,” he said.

Secunia says it’s a “moderately critical” hole. Here’s the
original warning from Mr. Rateliff.

» Google is boosting its
search appliance
to handle, according to the company, up to 300
queries per minute, and index 1.5 million documents.

» Nortel, recovering from an
accounting scandal, reports that converged
network equipment
, including VoIP and 3G gear, are buoying sales
this year.

The Week in Network News

» Monday: Network News Break: No WLAN On Your
Nets? Wi-Fi Security’s Still a Concern

Even if you don’t even have a WLAN operating on your nets, the
combination of cheap, consumer-friendly Wi-Fi gear and lousy security
interfaces can cause problems. Also: AT&T says it can see DDoS attacks
from a mile off, Intel releases Centrino drivers for Linux, and
anti-virus vendors report there are still viruses in the world.

The Week in CrossNodes

» Three
LDAP Browsers for the Asking

Getting your information in a directory is just half the
battle: The other half is finding it. Here are three LDAP browsers,
free of charge and up to the task of digging through your data.

» FaceTime
Makes IM as Safe as Talking Face-to-Face

With IM use at critical mass and growing, security and privacy
challenges abound. FaceTime’s enterprise-grade server suite monitors,
archives, and analyzes IM traffic for thousands of users without
requiring thousands of admin hours.

» Scripting Clinic: Dissecting a Live Python… Script

By examining a working script line by line, this edition of the
Scripting Clinic shows you how to put your own scripts together and
exposes a few Python quirks along the way.

» Pack-Rats
by Law: A Message Archiving Primer

With the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, messaging archives have gone from a
voluntary tic among pack-rat users to a regulatory necessity. Here’s
how to crate up the correspondence without overloading your LAN.

Network News Break is
CrossNodes’ daily summary of networking news and opinion, served up fresh daily.
Please send your comments and suggestions to the editor.

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