Imagine for a moment that you are the CEO of a Casino. Image is everything. You want to create an atmosphere of entertainment and overindulgence. You want your customers to feel important and decadent, so they forget their troubles and spend, spend, spend. The lobby and common areas can’t be adorned with just any décor, no. You need drop chandeliers dripping with Swarovski crystals, expensive art pieces from across the globe, and a statement piece in the middle of the room for people to photograph and share with friends back home. You need a hi-tech smart aquarium filled with exotic tropical fish and aquatic plants.  

Now imagine that your casino gets hacked and its data stolen through, you guessed it, the network connection associated with your fancy smart aquarium. You don’t need to imagine this at all, because it actually happened  

In its simplest terms, a network is made up of at least two connected computer systems. These systems communicate with each other, pass data back and forth, and share connectivity to the internet, for example. If these devices all communicate with each other, what happens when one of them is an imposter? We’ll let you speculate.  

The best offense is a good defense, as they say, and nowhere is that truer than in the world of cyber security. Identify the imposter and stop them from infiltrating the network in the first place. Sounds easy enough, right?  

The question is, how hard is it for a would-be intruder to breach your network? Some of the answers might surprise you. Even if you aren’t surprised, you might be wondering what you can do about it. Thankfully, we’ve got answers.   

Why is my network at risk? 

Traditionally, IT departments have managed access control in a couple of different ways. Some try to control access at the network jack level, but it’s a static solution that is administratively arduous and does not provide true visibility into the identity and behavior of the device. Others try to manage access through MAC address filtering, which requires a high level of expertise to manage properly and has proven unreliable anyway, since MAC addresses are easy to intercept and can be easily spoofed. Still, other organizations haven’t yet recognized the risks associated with network access, and they don’t have access control mechanisms in place at all. 

Wireless device connections pose the same dangers and, with the proliferation of IoT devices, uncontrolled network access points have become ubiquitous exterior cameras monitoring your parking lot; temperature control devices; smart controls of any kind, like lights or window coverings; the television in the lobby. We’re not trying to say there’s danger everywhere, hiding in plain sight. We’re just saying it helps to be aware. All these IoT devices are connected to your network, and they can be vulnerable entry points if not controlled adequately.  

So how do I control access to my network?  

Great question. There are a host of integrated cyber security solutions out there that can help you manage network access control. At Ignite Security, we recommend Cisco’s Identity Services Engine (ISE) because it offers a comprehensive range of capabilities, which you can customize depending on your organization’s environment and cyber security maturity. Over many years working in cyber security, we have found Cisco’s security products to be the most sophisticated, the most agile, and the easiest to manage from an in-house IT operations perspective.  

Benefits of Cisco ISE 

Access Control Policies

A product like Cisco ISE gives you the ability to restrict not only who but what can access your network. ISE takes access control one step further by restricting what those users and devices are authorized to do once they get there. By setting up Access Control Policies, you can build user and device profiles and then determine how they are authorized to access your network. You can set up groups of users, for example, as well as profiles for “dumb” devices like printers    

Network Profiling

Cisco ISE also has network profiling capability, which gives you visibility into the characteristics and the behaviours of any device on your network. If it looks like printer and walks like a printer, it should act like a printer, and, it should only have printer-level access.  

Device Management Integration

Cisco ISE integrates with your existing Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) policies to ascertain the health, status and compliance of every device on your network.     

At the unnamed North American casino with extravagant taste in fish tanks10GB of data was lost before the suspicious network activity was discovered. We don’t know a whole lot more about how the story ended, but the casino ended up calling in a forensic cyber security team to deploy counter measures, no doubt costing them significant time and money.  

Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare or extreme example. Cisco ISE, and tools like it, can put your network in a strong offensive position and help prevent access by intruders. Contact one of our cyber security experts today to learn more about what you can do to keep your organization’s data safe.