Cisco gains strength in next-gen firewalls via Sourcefire code

Cisco is bringing technology obtained through last year's acquisition of Sourcefire to its firewalls

Cisco is bringing technology obtained through last year's acquisition of Sourcefire to its firewalls to enable threat-focused security for enterprises.

Cisco's ASA firewalls with Sourcefire's FirePOWER Services are designed to provide contextual awareness to proactively assess threats, correlate intelligence, and optimize defenses to protect networks. A Cisco ASA 5500 firewall with application control, combined with SourceFire's Intrusion Prevention Systems and Advanced Malware Protection (AMP), provides threat defense before, during and after an attack, Cisco says.

This integration signals a trend in the security market. Rival Juniper Networks recently enhanced its threat intelligence platform by linking it with security policies in its SRX security gateways. The upgrades to Juniper's Spotlight Secure multivendor threat aggregation software are designed to allow customers to push enforcement rules to SRX firewalls to cut off command-and-control traffic, isolate infected systems and combat diverse network threats.

For Cisco though, its latest product news is a sign of progress for its Sourcefire acquisition.

+MORE ON NETWORK WORLD:Cisco-Sourcefire union raises many product overlap questions+

"The announcement really marks a significant integration point for Cisco," says IDC analyst John Grady. "Getting these technologies onto their firewall in under a year is impressive and points to the importance within Cisco of getting this done. Sourcefire's IPS is obviously well respected in the industry, so that's an immediate upgrade for the ASA. The breadth of AMP compares very favorably with any of their competition. I think this really puts Cisco squarely into the (next-generation firewall) conversation."

Cisco says that next-generation firewalls, until now, have focused on policy and application control and have been unable to address advanced and zero-day attacks. ASA's FirePOWER Services enhancement overcomes that limitation through context aware visibility into users, devices and apps, and analytics for detection, tracking and remediation of attacks, Cisco says.

Financial services firm First Financial is current running ASA and FirePOWER on separate platforms. But company officials say the integration of the two is something they've been waiting for.

"This is exactly what I was hoping this acquisition would bring us," says Brad Stroeh, vice president of Network Services and Security Engineering at First Financial. "It's the best of all worlds, integrating this feature set to enhance the ASAs. We don't have to run [Cisco's CX product] anymore for that enhanced feature set."

CX is a hardware module and software Cisco's been offering before the Sourcefire acquisition for next-generation firewall (NGFW) capabilities. Stroeh says ASA with FirePOWER Services could serve as a "replacement" for CX, but Cisco says it will still offer the CX product.

"The Cisco ASA with FirePOWER Services is a firewall that provides comprehensive threat protection for the advanced threats organizations face," a company spokesperson stated in an e-mail to Network World. "The CX is a complimentary offering and is not being replaced by the new NGFW."

Cisco's offering ASA with FirePOWER comes in two flavors: customers can purchase ASA 5500-X Series and ASA 5585-X Series firewall products with a bundled FirePOWER Services license; or customers can enable FirePOWER Services on existing ASA 5500-X Series and ASA 5585-X Series firewall products.

A one year subscription for a FirePOWER license costs $4,295. It is available now.

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