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Look who’s reinventing the firewall

Look who’s reinventing the firewall – Big Tech – Fortune Tech

Goaded on by a smaller rival, Cisco is changing its approach to firewall technology.

ciscoFORTUNE — For the past few years Cisco’s firewall business has been losing market share to a much smaller rival called Palo Alto Networks. Now the network equipment giant is set to unveil its answer to Palo Alto’s disruptive technology — its own next-generation, so-called “context aware” firewall.

The announcement was made Monday afternoon, a day before the official start of the RSA Conference in San Francisco. The event was also a coming-out party for Chris Young, the new SVP of Cisco’s (CSCO) security and government group.

I sat down with Young last week to find out how he plans to revive Cisco’s security business and take on Palo Alto Networks (which, by the way, is expected to file for an IPO any day now). Young conceded that Palo Alto Networks was first to recognize the need for next-generation, context-aware firewalls, which can detect different applications, users and devices — not just IP addresses. But he believes Cisco can beat the competition by embedding such security features into the infrastructure equipment it sells to companies. Cisco has a vast user base, but it also has a lot of catch-up to play in the security space.

MORE: Huawei is here to stay

A recent report from research firm Gartner listed relative newcomer Palo Alto Networks as a leading vendor in enterprise network firewalls. The report also stated that the firewall market is undergoing a period of “dynamic evolution.”

“The story is really simple—there’s a market need for this and those guys [Palo Alto Networks] saw it early on,” Young said during last week’s interview at Cisco’s headquarters. “But what we’ve done is taken the approach of recognizing that this need exists and delivering on it but also taking it a step further and bringing another level of value.”

Part of Cisco’s value, according to Young, will be its ability to embed context-aware security capabilities into its infrastructure equipment, just like it has done with voice, video and data. “The network is the substrate that binds all these new experiences together—the apps, the data, the devices and the users,” says Young.

At Cisco’s press conference on Monday, company execs showed a demo of its new firewall technology, which lets administrators track how employees are using apps across a range of devices–for example, whether a particular user is posting or sharing videos on Facebook using an iPhone, PC or other device. It also enables companies to enforce policies, like not allowing a specific group of employees to access games on iPads.

MORE: Is Cisco back?

Cisco CEO John Chambers has made it clear that the security business is now a priority. But while Palo Alto Networks launched its context-aware firewall several years ago, Cisco is launching a similar product today. In addition to bringing Young on board last November, CEO Chambers has made the security business a separate product division, a first for Cisco. “Our customers have realized that they can’t solve the security problem without the help of the network,” says Young. “Customers don’t care about how much money we make or how much we grew in the security business last year. They want security built into the network.”


Tablets Are On The Table And On The Rise

Apple sold more iPads than HP sold PCs in Q1 2012 – SlashGear.

With the explosion of mobility individuals and business are migrating to the new ways of comunicating and doing business from, anywhere, anytime & any device.  While almost eveyone has a smart phone tablets are becoming more and more sought after over computers. Why? Affordability, applicability and functionality.  The cloud and virtualization plays perfectly into the mobile development community who is developing more applications to run from any device. 

Telling: Apple sold more iPADs than than HP sold PC’s in Q1.

So if your a CEO, CTO, CIO or bussiness influencer of anykind what should you be thinking about and considering?

  • How are you going to keep up with transitions in order to keep your company competitive and more productive than your competiors?
  • How will communication; “specifically a mobile strategy”, impact the organization?
  • Do I want to provide mobile devices to my employees or will you leverage the investmentse of your employees supporting Bring Your Own Device?
  • What polices do we have in place the manage the convergence of Bring Your Own Device?
  • How will virtualization tie into your mobile strategy?
  • How will you support the devices and manage your approved devices?
  • How will mobile  devices interoperate with you existing enviornment?

Of course the list could go on but these are some key considerations as you look to evolve. The reality is your employees and individual behaviors are driving these requirments and the outcome of supporting them now is you gain lower operational expenses, (more margin),  more cost savings, more productivity and better results ie: competitive advantages.

Zeus returns: FBI warns of ‘Gameover’ ID-theft malware

Zeus returns: FBI warns of ‘Gameover’ ID-theft malware | ZDNet

Zeus returns: FBI warns of ‘Gameover’ ID-theft malware

By | January 9, 2012, 10:55am PST

Summary: The newest strain of the notorious Zeus malware family is capable of defeating common methods of user authentication employed by financial institutions.

A new variant of the notorious Zeus identity-theft Trojan is making the rounds and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) says it is capable of defeating common methods of user authentication employed by financial institutions.The latest strain of the ID-theft malware, called Gameover, begins as a phishing scheme with spam e-mails — purportedly from the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), the Federal Reserve Bank, or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) — that leads to malware infection and eventual access to the victim’s bank account.

From the FBI warning:

The malware is appropriately called “Gameover” because once it’s on your computer, it can steal usernames and passwords and defeat common methods of user authentication employed by financial institutions. And once the crooks get into your bank account, it’s definitely “game over.”

Gameover is a newer variant of the Zeus malware, which was created several years ago and specifically targeted banking information.

The FBI said the phishing lures typically includes a link in the e-mail that goes to a phony website.  ”Once you’re there, you inadvertently download the Gameover malware, which promptly infects your computer and steals your banking information,” it warned.

The FBI said recent investigations have shown that some of the funds stolen from bank accounts go towards the purchase of precious stones and expensive watches from high-end jewelry stores.

The criminals contact these jewelry stores, tell them what they’d like to buy, and promise they will wire the money the next day. So the next day, a person involved in the money laundering aspect of the crime—called a “money mule”—comes into the store to pick up the merchandise. After verifying that the money is in the store’s account, the jewelry is turned over to the mule, who then gives the items to the organizers of the scheme or converts them for cash and uses money transfer services to launder the funds.

Here’s a good look at how the scheme works:

(Click chart for full size)


Next Communications Enhances Network with Cisco – The Network: Cisco’s Technology News Site

Next Communications Enhances Network with Cisco

Next-Generation IP Network Solution Delivers New Video and Collaboration Services

SAN JOSE, Calif., December 15, 2011 – Next Communications, a Miami-based voice and video provider, announced today that it has deployed Cisco technology for its Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN) solution to provide a strong foundation for meeting present and future consumer and business services requirements. 

Next Communications’ enhanced network supports the scale and performance necessary for advanced video-based services, including wholesale, high-definition video and audio-only collaboration services on wired and wireless networks. The company’s objective is to exceed four billion billable minutes in 2012 without adding operational expenses.  Integral to this will be the deployment of the Cisco ASR 9000 and 1000 Series Aggregation Services Routers for 100GE port capacity and greater resiliency.


  • Performance and flexible services are important to a wide-range of residential and business customers. Next Communications and its subsidiary, NxtGn, conducted a search for carrier-class routers that could meet stringent cost and performance requirements amid rigorous tests across a variety of voice and video applications.  As a result, Next Communications selected the Cisco ASR 9000 and ASR 1000, which are best  supported the evolving customer needs and prepare for the transition to IPv6.
  • Consumers will benefit from advanced new services and lower-cost video calls. For business customers, these solutions are designed to help promote business growth, innovation and productivity. They are also designed to help accelerate team performance, protect investments, and simplify the process of finding the right people and information. The new video services from Next Communications will be available starting this month to residential and business customers.
  • Cisco nV (network virtualization) technology, a key part of this solution, intelligently blends the network edge, aggregation and access layers into a single Cisco ASR 9000 system for the next-generation Internet to simplify operation, increase network capacity and accelerate IPv6 services.  Enabled by Cisco nV technology, the Cisco ASR 9000 system offers up to 96 Tbps per system, along with rich-service capabilities, while maintaining a reduced carbon footprint.  It utilizes the modular Cisco IOS® XR software operating system, simplifying network operations while enabling comprehensive system redundancy and network resiliency.
  • Key to Next Communications’ success has been the company’s network design and software produced by NxtGn technology. This platform enables Next Communications to provision new customers or carriers in less than one hour at a significantly lower cost than alternative solutions. The NxtGn communications platform allows Next to support all of its traffic in a compact, single-rack footprint, and without the need for a voice switch. Automated central network management with 24-hour traffic and network monitoring allows Next Communications to grow traffic with minimal incremental costs. The Cisco ASR 1000 provides Session Border Controller capability to the NxtGn platform.
  • According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast (2010-2015), the number of devices connected to the Internet is driving growth in global IP traffic forecast to reach nearly a zettabyte by 2015, traversing more than 15 billion devices, compelling network operators to seize growth opportunities while monetizing new services.

Supporting Quotes

  • Arik Meimoun, CEO, Next Communications

Cisco technology provided us with the capacity we need combined with an exceptional performance. But the real win for us is the value point; very few can compete with our prices, and this solution extends that advantage as we significantly scale capacity while keeping our costs extremely low.”

  • Sri Hosakote, vice president and general manager, Edge and Aggregation Routing Business Unit, Cisco

“We are pleased that Next Communications has selected the Cisco ASR 9000 as a key foundational element of its next-generation network. Next Communications will now be able to deliver converged voice, video, and collaboration services across its advanced network, which will help further its growth in both mature and emerging markets.”

Supporting Resources


Cisco, ASR 9000, ASR 1000, Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network, IP NGN, Edge, Carrier Ethernet, VNI, Visual Networking Index, Next Communications, NxtGn, CGv6

About Next Communications

Next Communications is one of the top five leaders for in-bound voice traffic to Mexico, and the company’s best-in-class IP network is capable of delivering high-quality long-distance voice and video services in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Headquartered in Miami, FL Next Communications technology subsidiary NxtGn has developed and engineered a platform supporting routing, monitoring, and billing software and a unique switchless connectivity solution that make Next one of the most efficient and technologically advanced international telecommunications companies in the world. Our superior technology assures our partners the ability to deliver services to any end customer anywhere in the world with the most compelling voice and video communications solutions available in the marketplace. Next Communications is privately held and has grown continuously since 1998 without a single unprofitable quarter. For more information go to  For more information on network solutions created by Next Communications subsidiary NxtGn, go to

About Cisco

Cisco, (NASDAQ: CSCO), the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, this year celebrates 25 years of technology innovation, operational excellence and corporate social responsibility.Information about Cisco can be found at For ongoing news, please go to

Skype monitoring, Gmail hacks, and fake iTunes updates: How governments can track you | ZDNet

Skype monitoring, Gmail hacks, and fake iTunes updates: How governments can track you | ZDNet.


Skype monitoring, Gmail hacks, and fake iTunes updates: How governments can track you

By | December 11, 2011, 1:27pm PST

Summary: Wikileaks’ recent ‘Spy Files’ shows how the private intelligence sector can access your Gmail accounts, use ISPs to spy on you, and even inject in-progress downloads to track you.

The chances are you’re not being watched at this very moment in time.

But popular software and services, from Skype to Gmail, Hotmail, and even iTunes are vulnerable to the covert spying technologies the private sector has invented.

Wikileaks last week revealed its latest treasure trove of leaked material, showing only the tip of the iceberg for what the intelligence sector offers. Private companies sell their civil right infringing software, privacy invasive hardware, and other technologies to state organisations for widespread monitoring, hacking and surveillance of its citizens.
Click for gallery (Source: Wikileaks)

In recently released videos, Gamma Group touts the ability of how its broad range of “infection functionality” can remotely access the full hard drive of another computer, inject downloads with spy software, and trick users into downloading fake updates to gain access to their lives.

When was the last time iTunes required an update? When did you last log into Gmail? Have you recently had a seemingly private conversation with someone on Skype?

If Gamma has this capability, then your government may do as well.

A range of software, specifically designed to access computers, cell phones and networks, can inject downloads in progress with spy software, or hack cell phones. From intercepting Skype phone calls to ISP-level surveillance monitoring. This is how one company does it.

Its technology can attack a machine, smartphone or network on a specific target, or it can be installed at a Internet service provider level to offer widespread access of the innards of one’s private and personal life.

It can also be used to access industry secrets, healthcare providers, or even other government networks.

While Gamma is only one example of a multitude of private sector organisations that work on behalf of governments, Wikileaks’ insight into how the company practices can be applied as a minimum benchmark for others, at least.

It has long been no secret that governments spy on its own citizens.

The BBC discovered evidence post-revolution that suggested links to the repressive Mubarak-Egyptian regime. The company denied the allegations, yet were unwilling to divulge which countries or governments exactly it supplies technology or training to.

From British intelligence service GCHQ’s efforts to crack BlackBerry encryption in the wake of widespread rioting, to the U.S.’ National Security Agency’s Echelon satellite intercepting capabilities, governments have a vast array of technology at its disposal.

Yet more often than not with government, it cannot provide the services it needs to fulfil its ‘duties’ to its public.

One would question whether spying on its own citizens is a duty, but “protecting the public” is the foremost role of government — no matter how they persuade its public otherwise.

Should a government authorise the private sector use of such wide, sweeping surveillance, the matter of accountability becomes unclear.

But what the private sector offers governments, democratic and otherwise alike, leaves even the most popular software vulnerable to unauthorised snooping and interception.

Oracle acquires RightNow for $1.5 billion, aims turrets at

Summary: Oracle is jumping into the cloud customer service game via its acquisition of RightNow. The deal is aimed at the heart of

Oracle’s rivalry with is about to get more interesting. Oracle said Monday that it will acquire RightNow, which is a cloud customer service company, for $1.5 billion, or $43 a share.

RightNow is a software as a service company that focuses on customer service via call centers and self-service options via the Web and social networks. That customer service focus is aimed at the heart of

Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of Oracle Development, said in a statement that Oracle is “moving aggressively to offer customers a full range of Cloud Solutions including sales force automation, human resources, talent management, social networking, databases and Java as part of the Oracle Public Cloud.”

That quote is basically shorthand for “Oracle is going cloud shopping.”

At Oracle OpenWorld, the company outlined plans to get into cloud computing, big data and other efforts such as NoSQL databases. Oracle said its NoSQL database was generally available today.

Cowen analyst Peter Goldmacher said Oracle’s purchase of RightNow puts the heat on Goldmacher said:

We believe this deal will make it incrementally more challenging for to sell its Service Cloud offering which it has promoted aggressively for the last year. Customer service management solutions are primarily purchased by larger enterprises, where Oracle has dominant distribution. As Oracle becomes more competitive in this market segment, we expect it will slow down sales cycles and reduce win rates for Salesforce. This slowdown in big deal opportunities/wins will likely put further pressure on Salesforce’s sales productivity, as well as pressure its margins.

Gartner analysts argued last week that Oracle will acquire and roll out more cloud capabilities in the next year or two. Judging by Kurian’s quote, Oracle could be looking to acquire other players in various cloud niches.

In this acquisition, Oracle is looking to consolidate a leadership role in the call center. Here’s Gartner’s magic quadrant.


Right time for RightNow?

RightNow’s financial profile looks a lot like other SaaS companies. For 2011, RightNow is expected to deliver non-GAAP earnings of 58 cents a share on revenue of $226.7 million. That annual revenue is on par with other SaaS companies with the exception of, which is on track for more than $2 billion in annual revenue.

Oracle’s bet is that it can take RightNow and grow it faster via its army of enterprise sales people. Indeed, RightNow’s ability to meet demand appears to have been stretched.

In a recent research note, Piper Jaffray analyst Mark Murphy said:

Our checks in the RightNow ecosystem indicate strong business momentum across multiple verticals. All of the industry contacts we interviewed reported ongoing positive trends. Contacts highlighted strong demand momentum driven by an aggressive sales organization as well as increasing interest from large resellers. Contacts alluded to a couple of large deals closed in the quarter and also referred to “impressive up sell” activity across the customer base. Contacts further highlighted that “Q4 is shaping up pretty good” and also mentioned that RightNow’s professional services is “stretched and they have a huge backlog.” Call Center/Contact Center replacement spending is strong, driving demand for Cloud-based multi-channel Service products.

Oracle: Playing offense or defense?

The RightNow deal coupled with the purchase of Endeca illustrates how Oracle at first pooh poohs big trends—unstructured data, NoSQL and cloud computing—but then hops on the bandwagon via acquisition.

In other words, Oracle will collect the maintenance, but isn’t going to let rivals like sneak up on it. When SaaS becomes too big of a threat, Oracle buys a seat at the table to compete. It’s becoming increasingly clear that Oracle is threatened by the cloud movement.

Also see: Enterprise IT and megavendors: Cloud players angle in on bad marriages

The big question is what cloud acquisitions are next on the radar. Here’s a short list of possibilities based on Kurian’s quote:

  • SuccessFactors: A play on human resources that may be pricey for Oracle, but worth doing given SuccessFactor’s large base of customers for talent management. Taleo would also be a logical candidate.
  • Jive Software: Oracle has some social hooks into its products, but Jive would be an acquisition to step things up a bit. For Jive, Oracle may make a good partner given’s effort to make Chatter a social enterprise standard. Yammer would be another option.
  • NetSuite: Technically, NetSuite isn’t dangerous enough to Oracle just yet, but Larry Ellison already owns about half of the company. As NetSuite grows, it’s increasingly likely that it will be brought into the Oracle fold.

Cisco, HP Reconcile for the Sake of the Data Center – Cisco news from Channel Insider

Cisco, HP Reconcile for the Sake of the Data Center – Cisco news from Channel Insider.



Cisco, HP Reconcile for the Sake of the Data Center

Cisco and HP are getting back together, at least on a limited basis, for the sake of their mutual data center customers who see the value of Cisco networking and HP servers.

Cisco Systems and HP have been fighting over the enterprise space for some time now with an official divorce happening in February 2010 when they dissolved their partnership. But the two companies put their differences aside recently for the sake of the data center to come together to jointly release a product that extends the Cisco Unified Fabric into the HP c-Class BladeSystem.

With the number of shots fired between the two companies since they officially dissolved their partnership in February 2010, it may be surprising that they would come together to offer a joint solution, but according to one analyst, it’s clear that Cisco and HP have recognized that they share a lot of joint customers, including those that use both Cisco networking products in conjunction with HP servers.

“The announcement is significant in that it is clear that customers still want to apply known ‘best practices’ to their IT infrastructure,” said Cindy Borovick, program vice president for enterprise and data center networks at IDC.  “As a result, customer choice in networking/servers/storage is still important. Clearly, Cisco networking customers have invested in HP servers. In this specific case, customers see the advantages of Cisco Fabric Extender and would like to apply this architecture to their HP servers.”

The Fabric Extender technology provides a scalable “pay as you grow” network deployment model, Borovick noted.

“Cisco as the leader in data center networking and HP as the leader in x86 servers need to offer customers choices,” she said. “An all or nothing approach would be foolish from suppliers with such strong brands and leading customers.”

The Cisco Fabric Extender for HP BladeSystem (also known as the Cisco Nexus B22 Fabric Extender for HP) was co-engineered by Cisco and HP to make it easy for customers to connect and configure HP BladeSystem c-Class infrastructure with Cisco Unified Fabric. Available from HP and its authorized partners, the new product offers tighter integration between Cisco Nexus switches and HP BladeSystem.

“BladeSystem customers are looking to HP for solutions that easily integrate into existing environments,” said Jim Ganthier, vice president of marketing for industry standard servers and software at HP. “This new solution allows industry-standard collaboration options for enterprises choosing HP BladeSystem c-Class infrastructure while simplifying their connections and reducing network costs.”

Even as the two technology giants fight for dominance in the data center space, many environments are not made up of a single vendor’s products and instead use products from both Cisco and HP. The new Cisco Fabric Extender for HP BladeSystem was designed to provide several customer benefits, including increased network bandwidth and resiliency for delivering mission-critical applications running on multiple server links, expanded flexibility to address changing business demands with consolidated migration paths from 1GbE to 10GbE networks, and reduced network provisioning and maintenance required by IT administrators from the Cisco Nexus parent switch to up to 24 fabric extenders.

“Our customers want to easily and cost-effectively take advantage of the latest Cisco Unified Fabric innovations,” said Soni Jiandani, senior vice president of the server, access and virtualization technology group at Cisco. “By offering the Cisco Nexus B22 Fabric Extender (FEX) for HP, our customers can extend the benefits of the Cisco Unified Fabric across their existing data center infrastructure.”

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