February 13, 2006 7:50 AM PST

Cisco readies security updates

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Cisco Systems unveiled on Monday several changes to its security lineup that are designed to bolster its management offerings and ability to secure applications that reside on the network.

Cisco, as part of its adaptive security efforts to monitor and secure access to applications on the network, debuted its Content Security and Control Security Services Module. This module, designed for the Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) 5500 series, aims to deliver Anti-X services that combine antivirus, anti-spyware, file blocking, antispam, URL blocking and content filtering.

Cisco also unveiled a software upgrade for the ASA 5500 series. The Cisco ASA 5500 series 7.1 software, in conjunction with the appliances, aims to allow up to 5,000 concurrent SSL VPN sessions per device, providing remote and mobile workers the ability to access applications and network resources securely.

"Adaptive security is one of our most ambitious tasks," said Jayshree Ullal, senior vice president of Cisco's DataCenter, Switching and Security Technology Group.

In the area of managing the network, Cisco also introduced a new version of the Cisco Security Manager and an upgraded version of its Cisco Security Monitoring, Analysis, and Response System (MARS). Both of these enhancements can also be combined into a Cisco security management suite.

The Cisco Security Manager 3.0 is designed to provide IT administrators with the capability to separate a policy, such as allow only certain employees to access sensitive data, from the devices that are enforcing those policies. The goal is to allow other devices in the network to share and apply those policies.

MARS version 4.2, meanwhile, is designed to collect, correlate and report security incidents that occur within Cisco and non-Cisco devices. This upgrade, which will begin shipping in the second quarter, will start at $15,000 and is designed to be part of the suite or can stand alone.

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