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Leveraging Cisco HyperShield: Five Key Insights for Your Business

Cisco dropped a buzzworthy release this week - HyperShield, the first "AI Native" Security Infrastructure. Cisco's Executive Vice President and General Manager of Security and Collaboration, Jeetu Patel, calls it "the most radically different security innovation I've ever been a part of in my career." HyperShield won't be released until August but implications are already swirling over its game-changing impact on technology. INE Security, a leading networking & cybersecurity certification and training platform, Cisco among its many Fortune 500 clients, is revealing five ways business leaders can leverage HyperShield to enhance IT security automation and position their teams for success.

What is HyperShield?

The "Hyper" in HyperShield refers to HyperScale providers, like Google, Amazon, & Meta (e.g., FAANG). Their network architectures have largely been custom-developed in software through years of R&D, to the tune of billions of dollars. Many of these custom solutions came out as standardized protocols, a key one of these, which is at the heart of Cisco's HyperShield solution, is called eBPF.

eBPF, or extended Berkeley Packet Filters, can intercept things like network packets directly in the Linux kernel space, without changing kernel source code or loading kernel modules. This powerful tool forms one of the core functionalities of HyperShield, allowing full visibility into every software process and I/O operation applications are running, whether it be in a Kubernetes container or a Virtual Machine.

Using this deep visibility gained from eBPF, HyperShield's "AI-Native" engine can automatically search for and apply patches for new vulnerabilities as they become available.

"Cisco's HyperShield solution may have tipped the scales in favor of the defenders for once," says 4X CCIE Brian McGahan, Director of Networking Content and Co-founder of INE. "Applying firmware and software frantically to plug an endless stream of new attack vectors is one of the biggest challenges network and security operators face today. HyperShield could change that."

What does HyperShield do?

AI-based HyperShield learns 24/7 about new vulnerabilities that could affect systems, prioritizing their potential impact, and automatically applying patches where needed. Before applying these updates or modifying any filtering rules, HyperShield offers the important step of qualifying the impact of these changes. Using a feature called dual dataplane, traffic is processed twice by the system. Once for the actual forwarding of traffic based on the current state of the system, and second to test the proposed changes of any updates or rule modifications. As applications & requirements change over time, HyperShield will dynamically refine and update these rules. 

Another key feature of HyperShield is that its AI learns about legitimate behavior of applications running in the network over time, automatically segmenting traffic to protect against lateral movements inside the network if an application is compromised.  

Furthermore, while the management & control of the HyperShield solution is centralized (i.e. managed via the cloud), the enforcement of its policies is distributed in nature. This helps to avoid common bottlenecks in the network, for example at centralized edge firewalls.

Why is HyperShield such a big deal?

A slow update cycle leaves an organization open to emerging threats, but HyperShield can perform an update process in a completely automated manner, applying changes it deems the best fit for your systems as new vulnerabilities are discovered. 

HyperShield features an AI assistant to explain its analysis & recommendations, allowing built trust in the fact that it is taking the correct actions.

This revolutionary automated step provides confidence to adopt a more proactive approach to your security posture. Eliminating the need for potentially thousands of man-hours to correctly qualify the change-control process.  

What does HyperShield mean for businesses?

There are endless implications and opportunities for businesses to harness the power of HyperShield. Three of the quickest wins:

  • Enhanced ability to predict and prevent cyberattacks before they happen: HyperShield uses advanced AI algorithms to analyze patterns, predict potential vulnerabilities, and automatically patch them - marking a significant shift from reactive to proactive cybersecurity. 
  • Increased efficiency in SecOps: AI automation reduces the need for manual intervention, allowing security teams to focus on more strategic tasks. 
  • Greater compliance with regulatory requirements: HyperShield's advanced security protocols help enterprises meet stringent regulatory requirements more efficiently, avoiding potential legal penalties and reputational damage. 

What will HyperShield mean for the future?

The introduction of an AI-driven security solution and distributed network security architecture like Cisco's HyperShield will have a profound impact on the industry. By resolving the inherent weaknesses of traditional models, HyperShield promises a scalable, efficient, and secure framework that will adapt to the evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats.

Businesses will benefit from enhanced security measures that protect the perimeters of their networks and their internal data and systems. This level of comprehensive security is crucial as enterprises continue to expand and diversify their digital operations.

The ability of HyperShield to autonomously manage and deploy security measures frees up valuable IT resources, allowing companies to focus more on growth and innovation rather than constant threat monitoring and management.

HyperShield is set to debut in August 2024, with additional functionality, such as DPU offload, being introduced after the initial launch. 

Published Friday, April 26, 2024 3:44 PM by David Marshall
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