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Cisco Debuts Umbrella: First Secure Internet Gateway in the Cloud
Posted February 10, 2017
Cisco Debuts Umbrella: First Secure Internet Gateway in the Cloud
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By Shirley Siluk. Updated February 10, 2017 4:28AM

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Businesses often set up virtual private networks, or VPNs, to protect against IT threats that can be introduced via remote workers using cloud services to access corporate data. Because employees don't always use those VPNs, though, Cisco has launched a new layer of protection: a secure Internet gateway (SIG) dubbed Umbrella.

Calling it "the industry's first secure Internet gateway in the cloud," Cisco said yesterday that Umbrella is designed to provide enterprise users with a safe way to access cloud services from anywhere via any device. And because Umbrella is a cloud-based service, it's fast and easy for customers to deploy without the need for new hardware or software, according to Cisco.

Built on the OpenDNS platform, Umbrella incorporates other Cisco technologies such as Cloud Web Security and Advanced Malware Protection. Those integrations enable the gateway service to inspect files before they're downloaded from potentially risky domains, and also adds new predictive intelligence capabilities to avoid other potential threats.

'Secure Onramp to the Internet'

"Before you connect to any destination, a SIG acts as your secure onramp to the Internet and provides the first line of defense and inspection," Kevin Rollinson, product marketing manager for Cisco OpenDNS, wrote yesterday in a blog post. "Regardless of where users are located or what they're trying to connect to, traffic goes through the SIG first. Once the traffic gets to the SIG cloud platform, there are different types of inspection and policy enforcement that can happen."

As a secure Internet gateway, Umbrella offers advantages over other protection strategies such as secure Web gateways, or SWGs, added Brian Roddy, who heads cloud security for Cisco. SWGs can be hard to deploy and "constantly create problems around latency and capacity," he said. By contrast, Umbrella was developed to reimagine how security is delivered, he added.

"For us, it wasn't about taking the old technology and just sticking it into the cloud," Roddy said. "We wanted to create a new layer of defense -- protecting users whether they're on and off the corporate network. We want it to be easy to deploy, be highly effective, minimize latency, support world-wide installations and support the open architectures that have made SaaS so effective."

Umbrella 'Detects Anomalies' To Predict Threats

While software-as-a-service tools such as Salesforce, Box, Google's G Suite, Office 365, WebEx, Trello and others, are widely used today, professionals who access those services from remote locations or mobile devices don't always use them via secure connections such as VPNs. In a survey conducted on behalf of Cisco last year, IDG Research Services found that 82 percent of the corporate laptop users it questioned admitted to sometimes bypassing their organizations' VPNs.

"Much of this off-network usage was for personal activities, but nearly 30 percent of the end users said they sometimes access company data without logging into their VPNs," according to IDG.

Unlike a VPN, Umbrella uses a customer's existing Cisco hardware, such as AnyConnect clients, routers or wireless LAN controllers, to "easily point Internet traffic to Umbrella whether on or off the corporate network," the company said. Umbrella "resolves over 100 billion Internet requests every day and correlates this live data with over 11 billion historical events," according to Cisco. "This is analyzed to identify patterns, detect anomalies, and create models to automatically uncover attacker infrastructure being staged for the next threat."

Cisco did not provide pricing for Umbrella, but the company is offering a free 14-day trial to each customer who signs up for the service.

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