Traditionally in IT, we’ve had an infrastructure-centric view of the universe. Our most valuable data was contained in the data center, so our job was to let good traffic in and keep bad actors out. And our tool of choice was the firewall.
In today’s organizations, the center of gravity has shifted decidedly in favor of applications. Applications are critical to how you engage with customers, run your operations, and get paid. But the constant proliferation and dynamic nature of these applications have led to an unprecedented security challenge for IT professionals.
Apps are distributed. They’re deployed both on-premises and in the cloud, or across multiple clouds, and critical workloads are no longer tidily kept in the data center where they can be protected by a perimeter firewall. In some ways, there is no more perimeter. To respond to this app-centric world, you need a security solution that can bring security closer to the applications using a “new firewall” that surrounds each and every workload, allowing you to protect what matters most to you—your applications and your data.
With Cisco Secure Workload, you can secure your environments by creating firewalls at the workload level across your entire infrastructure, whether applications are deployed on bare-metal servers, virtual machines, or containers. Secure Workload helps you to deliver zero-trust application security, reduce risk, and maintain compliance with:
- Automatically generated microsegmentation policies through comprehensive analysis of application communication patterns and dependencies
- Dynamic attribute-based policy definition with a hierarchical policy model to deliver comprehensive controls across multiple user groups with role-based access control
- Consistent policy enforcement at scale through distributed control of native host firewalls and infrastructure, including ADCs (application delivery controllers) and firewalls
- Near real-time compliance monitoring of all communications to identify and alert against policy violation or potential compromise
- Workload behavior baselining and proactive anomaly detection
- Common vulnerability detection with dynamic mitigation and threat-based quarantine
Secure Applications Through Microsegmentation:
Cisco Secure Workload provides your team with automated microsegmentation policy recommendations and then helps you enforce those policies consistently at scale across all your environments. This model significantly reduces your attack surface, increases operational efficiency through automation, and enables a zero-trust model.
Secure applications using microsegmentation across any cloud
Flexible metadata-enriched policy definition
With the changing nature of application environments and the infrastructures across which they are deployed, a flexible, dynamic policy model is essential. Whether distributed across multiple clouds or operating on the same network segment, individual workloads have discrete policy requirements based on a rich set of attributes that define the application and environment, location, regulatory context, and much more.
To achieve this, Secure Workload maintains a context-rich inventory of every workload and endpoint along with associated metadata through integration with existing systems of record including Configuration Management Database (CMDB), IP Address Management (IPAM), orchestration platforms, access control, and authentication systems.
Secure Workload’s natural policy definition language provides users with the ability to author and enforce dynamic policy intent to meet any demand, whether to ensure restricted user or endpoint access to a critical application, or to deliver against regulatory compliance or InfoSec mandates.
The policy is continually updated with the changing environment, which ensures up-to-the-minute policy delivery at each point of enforcement.
Flexible metadata-based policy definition
Automated microsegmentation policy recommendation
Using the Cisco Secure Workload platform, you can automatically generate highly specific microsegmentation policies based on complete visibility of application communications, running processes and their dependencies. It deterministically merges the autogenerated policy with the user-defined metadata-enriched policy allowing for a detailed policy visualization. Secure Workload empowers the user to review, test, and refine the policy to deliver an accurate and detailed policy set that can be deployed and enforced with confidence.
Automated microsegmentation policy recommendation based on application behavior
Application owners empowered with control
With Secure Workload, security no longer needs to be seen as an inhibitor to innovation because you are able to empower the application owners. Leveraging a hierarchical policy model and role-based access control (RBAC), application teams can deliver dynamic policy enforcement while operating within the bounds of the organizational policy requirements.
Application owners empowered with policy control
Policy flexibility can be achieved by using workload tag assignment through integration with orchestration platforms covering virtual machine and container-based workloads. Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) workflows are automated through API-driven policy sets, while maintaining end-to-end consistency across organizational boundaries.
Secure Workload’s dynamic policy model also provides the ability for automated policy response such as for a quarantine or hardening action that may be triggered directly or by third-party integration via an API.
Automated policy enforcement at scale
Whether your environment consists of 100 workloads 100,000, Secure Workload is built for scale, providing fully automated enforcement of a dynamic allow-list policy to every workload. A discrete policy set is custom computed for each workload, distributed via the Secure Workload software agent, and programmed for enforcement by the native operating system firewall (either iptables or Windows Advanced Firewall).
The generated policy intent is also streamed across a secure Kafka broker for further enforcement in the infrastructure and delivered to ADCs through direct integration to ensure consistent policy enforcement to all workloads across the data center, and cloud.
Policy enforcement across a multicloud infrastructure to enable consistent segmentation
Visibility and compliance in near real time
Secure Workload provides ongoing visibility of all communication activity with near real-time policy compliance assessment to quickly alert you to any policy violation. Flow records are retained for forensic record of all communications with analysis of flow disposition to identify the specific policy match. Whether responding to a breach or adapting to changes in application behavior, you will have a complete and up-to-date record of all communications to assist with rapid response and remediation efforts.
Reduce risks and maintain compliance
Cisco Secure Workload helps you reduce overall risks and maintain compliance by automatically identifying application behavior deviations and invoking appropriate workflows for policy updates. Analytics-based insights enable you to gain a unique perspective on your environment's operations and serve as a catalyst to increase efficiency and security.
Workload behavior baseline and anomaly detection
Secure Workload continually monitors and baselines running processes on every server, capturing detailed context for each process and its associated libraries. Process and library hashes are assessed against a threat data feed to identify malicious code execution and detect variation from known good processes.
Workloads are monitored for behavioral indicators of compromise through a configurable set of forensic event indicators. These forensic indicators include operating system event detections as well as a tailored set of MITRE ATT&CK techniques, identifying and alerting to anomalous behavior.
Security operations teams can customize these events, their severity, and associated actions using simple-to- define rules. In this way, security operations can quickly identify indicators of compromise and take remediation steps to minimize the impact.
Forensic event records provide a snapshot of the relevant process and metadata captured within the event to assist with exploit analysis.
Proactive software vulnerability detection
The Cisco Secure Workload platform discovers the installed software packages and versions on your servers to report on known information security vulnerabilities by matching installed software versions against a vulnerability data feed that incorporates multiple sources, including National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) vulnerability database and vendor-specific updates.
Secure Workload allows you to quickly identify vulnerable workloads, enabling dynamic policy to be provisioned to protect these vulnerable machines from exploit or apply effective quarantine policy until the necessary patches are applied.
Software vulnerability detection and exposure details
Composite security dashboard for increased visibility
It is highly critical for security operations teams to understand both their security posture as a whole as well as the individual elements that are contributing to the current posture. This provides actionable data to further harden and remediate the environment against a potential breach.
Secure Workload’s security dashboard provides you with a composite security score based on:
- Vulnerabilities associated with your software packages
- Process hash consistency and process behavior
- Workload attack surface assessment
- Segmentation policy compliance
The dashboard also helps you identify where to focus for improvement by providing the score breakdown for each of these elements.
Security dashboard with composite security score