Cisco claims it can find malware in encrypted data

Cisco has revealed a new networking solution which it claims is one of the most significant breakthroughs ever made, ushering in an intelligent network which can recognise and prevent security threats as they happen – and even sniff out malware in encrypted traffic.

Based on years of research and development, this is all part of the shift from hardware-centric networking to software-defined technology. Cisco calls the new system an ‘intuitive network’ that can evolve over time driven by machine learning insights and capable of interpreting data in context. And it can pull off some pretty impressive tricks.

That includes Cisco’s Encrypted Traffic Analytics which, as the name suggests, is capable of detecting threats and attack signatures hidden in encrypted traffic, using machine learning to analyse traffic metadata.

That’s important because, as the company notes, coming on for half of all cyber-attacks are hidden within encrypted traffic. A better defence against such incursions would obviously be a major step forward.

Network DNA 

A further key element is Cisco’s new DNA Center, a central management dashboard designed to give IT staff an ‘intent-based approach’ and full visibility across the entire company network.

Cisco is also touting Software-Defined Access which automates daily network tasks such as provisioning, configuration and troubleshooting, streamlining these processes and hugely reducing the time it takes to fix any network issues, or indeed to recover from any security breach.

Another major piece of the puzzle is Network Data Platform and Assurance, a new analytics platform for crunching business data, again utilising machine learning technology to produce business intelligence and high-quality insights.

And finally, Cisco also announced the introduction of a new family of switches built with the demands of the cloud and IoT in mind, with the Cisco Catalyst 9000 series said to deliver unmatched security, performance and flexibility thanks to innovation on both the hardware and software fronts.

The Catalyst 9300 and 9500 series will be available this month, followed by the Catalyst 9400 next month. DNA Center and SD Access will initially become available in August, followed by Encrypted Traffic Analytics in September, and the remaining network technologies should be unleashed by November.

Over 75 major organisations are already partaking of early field trials with this clever new networking technology, including NASA. Eric Latta, Solutions Architect at the space agency, commented: “The Cisco Catalyst 9000 has exceeded NASA’s mission-critical requirements for security and segmentation – and at twice the performance.”

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).