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Cisco embraces identity and AI as focal points of refreshed security strategy

Cisco embraces identity and AI as focal points of refreshed security strategy

With AI-fueled biometric identity fraud on the rise, Cisco is orienting its security strategy around identity and using AI and data analytics to beef up its defensive posture.

A post on Cisco’s blog says that, in order to bridge the gap between authentication and access – “a blank space, the darkness of active identity behaviors” – Cisco is adding advanced identity intelligence to Cisco Duo, Cisco’s Extended Detection and Response (XDR) service and Cisco Secure Access.

Citing the Talos 2023 year-end report, Cisco says compromised credentials were responsible for 25 percent of its incident response engagements. The blog post names identity sprawl and the “blind trust our access and our identity solutions” as issues confronting organizations. Disorganization and confusion open the door for data breaches, which can cost millions of dollars in losses.

“To combat this,” says the blog, “enterprise customers need a layer of identity intelligence that runs on top of their identity stores and bridges this gap between authentication and access. This isn’t an outright replacement of their current tools. Rather, it’s something that adds new insights and telemetry while leveraging the information that already exists in their environments.”

In augmenting its products with AI and recalibrating strategy to focus on identity, Cisco is committing to a definition of identity that includes context and communication – “not only the who and what of access, but also the when, where, and how of interactions between systems and data.”

Identity Intelligence applied across suite of products for enhanced data insight

Currently in private preview, Cisco Identity Intelligence is a layer of monitoring software that “sits on top of customers’ disparate directories and identity tools to provide unique insights into how identities are being actively used.” The generated insights and alerts are accessible on a single interface to help security teams detect and prevent the use of compromised or false identities.

The software will be added to the Advantage and Premier editions of Cisco Duo and its XDR threat detection and response service. It will also deploy on the cloud-based SSE tool Secure Access, collecting data from the existing fabric of identity and access management tools to flag vulnerable identities, expose subtle shifts in identity posture and generate identity graphs for a real-time composite view of identity. Administrators will also be able to use Identity Intelligence to block suspicious IDs based on risk.

Secure Access is also getting an AI assistant for security, which will translate everyday English into the formal language of security policy to allow for more efficient drafting; data loss prevention (DLP) for generative AI applications; and a new integration with Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE) for administrators wanting to use identity-based insights to make policy decisions. Experience Insights monitors functionality and network connectivity for fast IT maintenance. Finally, an AI-juiced Email Threat Defense will more effectively detect malicious incoming emails.

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