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Cisco's Chambers outlines security strategy

Cisco Systems CEO says the network is evolving from "pinpoint" security technology to integrating a broad range of tools.

Dawn Kawamoto Former Staff writer, CNET News
Dawn Kawamoto covered enterprise security and financial news relating to technology for CNET News.
Dawn Kawamoto
2 min read
SAN JOSE, Calif.--Cisco Systems Chief Executive John Chambers says he's taking a "holistic" approach to security and that corporations should view the network as an integrated system.

The network has evolved from using "pinpoint" security technology to one that integrates a broad range of tools that communicate with each other, Chambers said Wednesday during a keynote speech here at the RSA Conference 2006. That means security can be coordinated across the entire network, from the worker at a desk to the guts of the system.

John Chambers
CEO, Cisco Systems

"Assume employees are going across a lot of networks," Chambers said. "So you have to build in security from the home to any number of networks."

As a result, Chambers said, Cisco believes open standards is the way to go in developing security for networks.

"Sometimes employees are on wired networks and sometimes wireless networks. So you can't design security differently for wired or wireless," Chambers said. "Security has to happen at the infrastructure."

Chambers, the son of two doctors, said he applies a holistic view to the network and its needs. As a result, the company is focusing on securing all the applications that live on the network.

This week, for example, Cisco introduced several enhancements to its security lineup designed to bolster its management offerings and the ability to secure applications that reside on the network.

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Video: Chambers lays down security his way
During his keynote at this year's RSA Conference, Cisco CEO John Chambers talks about his vision of security as a multilayered, integrated approach.

The company is also looking for ways to automate the security process on the network and to isolate attacks when they occur.

Last year, Cisco unveiled its Adaptive Threat Defense initiative, which called for "intelligent" networks to defend themselves against attacks.

As part of that effort, Chambers outlined an aggressive seven-year plan to build out its security portfolio via acquisitions and partnerships.

Cisco has since introduced a range of products and services to expand its Adaptive Threat concept, including its Adaptive Security Appliance 5500 in May. The appliance combined 18 Cisco security and networking functions into one device. Previously, the functions were part of individual products that Cisco sold.

Later in his speech on Wednesday, Chambers compared the evolution of the network to Moore's Law, the observation that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every one to two years. As a result, consumers gain more features on their devices and computers at a lower cost.

"The next-generation network will be one-sixteenth of the cost of what it is today," Chambers said.

He also predicted that networks will not only be self-defending but also intelligent in that they will figure out where information resides.

"Users won't need to care where the information resides or where the applications occur," Chambers said. "The network will figure it out."