Networking Hype, Cisco’s SDWAN Catalyst 8000 Edge Platform

Cisco announced the Catalyst 8000 Edge Platforms designed to accelerate the next generation of WAN, 5G, and enable connectivity to hybrid and multi-cloud applications. The Catalyst 8000 Edge Platform includes the 8500 Series for aggregation, Catalyst 8300 Serries for access, and Catalyst 8000V Edge software for virtual/cloud deployments.

The Catalyst 8000V will be available with Cisco SD-WAN 17.4, so you will have to wait just a bit longer.  

 It’s an “edge platform.” Not a router. 

Typically the Catalyst family line is analogous to Cisco switching; however, the branding and messaging align with Cisco’s intent-based networking (IBN) portfolio. The “Catalyst” name now unifies the LAN and the WAN.

With distributed locations, flexible deployment models, and hosting containerized services, the term “router” has evolved to be more of a WAN edge device. Calling these devices “edge platforms” versus “routers” seems to be more appropriate. 

The platform fits nicely into the Cisco SD-WAN portfolio as it addresses security, on-box, and support for Umbrella’s cloud base FWaaS. Cloud-native agility provided by Cloud OnRamp for IaaS and SaaS for distributed applications. (If you haven’t seen this in action, it’s eye-opening!) 

Expect other vendors to begin adopting these features into one solution as Gartner has already coined the term “SASE” (Secure Access Service Edge) pronounced “sassy” to describe the solution. 

In addition to the above, the edge platform functions as an edge router like you’d expect with some new beefiness to it. 

Catalyst 8300 Series, compared to the ISR 4400 Series offers:

  • Up to five times faster data plane performance 
  • Up to 12 Core CPU 
  • Native support for 10GE 

Catalyst 8500 Series, compared to ASR1001-HX and ASR1002-HX offers:

  • Improved data plane with Cisco’s custome 3rd gen ASIC Quantum Flow Processor (QFP)
  • Inline Cyrpto
  • Native support for 100GE and 40GE

Catalyst 8000v Series, compared to CSR1000V offers:

  • Support for up to 16vCPUs
  • 25Gbps Interfaces

and Many more

Lastly, there is no End-of-Life announcement for the previous platforms that the Catalyst 8000 line intends to replace, as of 10/20/20. I’d be willing to bet that these platforms adopt ThousandEyes at some point, which is an absolute game-changer.

Mike

Valente, Jean-Luc “Introducing the Catalyst 8000 Edge Family, Cisco’s New SD-WAN Platform” Oct. 20, 2020, Retrieved From https://blogs.cisco.com/networking/catalyst-8000-edge-platforms

Cisco “Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge Platforms Family” Oct. 20, 2020, Retrieved From
https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/routers/cloud-edge/index.html?ccid=cc001903

Lener, Andrew “Say Hello to SASE (Secure Access Service Edge)” Dec. 23, 2019, Retrieved From
https://blogs.gartner.com/andrew-lerner/2019/12/23/say-hello-sase-secure-access-service-edge/

Protecting the WFH workforce – Defending against COVID-19 malicious domains

Many organizations have implemented work from home (WFH) strategies due to COVID-19. This measure, although enabling business continuity for many, introduces increased risk to cyber threats and attacks.

Cisco Talos has been proactively hunting COVID related outbreaks, educating the public, and pushing these discoveries to all Cisco Security tools for blocking. I encourage you to read the Talos blog, “Threat Actors attempt to capitalize on coronavirus outbreak” and “Threat Update: COVID-19“.

Talos goes as far as to list ways that you can defend against COVID related attacks. Cisco Umbrella, in particular, can leverage threat intelligence from Cisco Talos, to uncover and block these malicious domains, IPs, URLs, and files that are used in attacks. It’s not just Talos intelligence that Umbrella can leverage, however. You can take advantage of 3rd party threat intelligence platforms (TIP) that you may have and create a completely robust, kickass defense for your work from home workforce.

Here’s how –

Turn on – Newly Seen DomainsAs part of Cisco Umbrella intelligence, some domains may be blocked as Newly Seen Domains (NSD). Newly created domains related to COVID-19 will also be flagged as NSD as long as they fit the criteria.

Third Party Integration: Umbrella support integrations with SIEM, threat intelligence platforms, or homegrown systems. This feature utilizes the ‘Enforcement API‘ in Umbrella.

Here are the default integrations.

In this case, I want to show you how to leverage a homegrown system. We’ll call it “COVID-19-BLOCK”

When you add a new integration, an API key is generated. This API key can be used to make requests to and from Umbrella.

Our homegrown system is nothing more than a simple python script that makes POST requests to Umbrella.

# Custom integration - ADD EVENT URL
import requests

url = "https://s-platform.api.opendns.com/1.0/events?customerKey=c988727a-XXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXXX";

payload = "{\n    \"alertTime\": \"2013-02-08T11:14:26.0Z\",\n    \"deviceId\": \"ba6a59f4-e692-4724-ba36-c28132c761de\",\n    \"deviceVersion\": \"13.7a\",\n    \"dstDomain\": \"coronadiseasenews.com\",\n    \"dstUrl\": \"http://coronadiseasenews.com/a-bad-url\",\n    \"eventTime\": \"2020-03-31T09:30:26.0Z\",\n    \"protocolVersion\": \"1.0a\",\n    \"providerName\": \"Security Platform\"\n}"
headers = {
  'Content-Type': 'application/json'
}
response = requests.request("POST", url, headers=headers, data = payload)

print(response.text.encode('utf8'))

After running the script, we can confirm that our request to block the COVID-19 malicious domain was successful.

As you can see, we were successful in adding this malicious domain to our block list.

Now, take a moment to expand on this custom integration that we just made. There are roughly 70,000 COVID-19 malicious domains and growing daily. What if we were able to take all of the published COVID-19 molicous domains and add them to an Umbrella block policy like we did above?

I think that would make any CSO smile.

Mike

Cisco’s One Button to Push with Office 365 – Setup

It seems as though the more straightforward the technology is to use, the better. It is especially true with organizations trying to simplify the user’s experience when joining a meeting from conference devices. 

One Button to Push alleviates the need to type in meeting information when joining a meeting. It simplifies the user experience by providing the users with a simple one-button-to-push to participate from their conference device. 

It is surprisingly easy to provide the One Button to Push. 

We will be going through the details of how to deploy One Button to Push for cloud registered devices and leveraging O365 to reserve those devices for a meeting. The good news is, is that there are other deployment models based on calendar deployments types if you are not an Office 365 organization today. Think G-Mail, Exchange..

The other great thing is if you have on-premise registered devices, you can leverage Cisco Webex Edge for Devices. Webex Edge for Devices will give you cloud capabilities on the conference devices while keeping the device registered on-prem. 

Prerequisites:
Admin access to Cisco Webex Control Hub – https://admin.webex.com
Admin Access to O365 tenant – I’m using a free trial of O365 Business premium
Telepresence device

  • 1. Enable Hybrid Calendar

Log into https://admin.webex.com with your admin credentials. From there choose Services > Hybrid Calendar > Office 365.

After choosing to authorize, you will be asked for an account to use to associate the Hybrid Calendar service to your Webex Control Hub. This account should be an admin account in your O365 tenant.

  • 2. Create a resource room in O365

If you don’t already have a resource room created, create one now. The resource room will create a room mailbox that is used when scheduling a meeting.  

I’ve created a resource room through the admin portal https://portal.office.com/adminportal > Resources > Rooms & equipment

  • 3. Create a Place in Control Hub and Enroll a Telepresence Device

The “Place” will serve as a hierarchy for you to organize your device with. For this purpose, the Place will only be hosting one device. 

Choose Places Add Place > Provide a common name for the device. Click Next. Follow the on-screen prompts.

Activation code will be used to enroll your Telepresence device.

  • 4. Powershell

By default, Hybrid Calendar will remove the body of an email. If left as the default, any information like SIP URIs will be removed from the meeting invite and prevent OBTP from working.

This is a default behavior of O365, to strip the body of an email sent to a “room resource” (as opposed to a user mailbox). Which is why you need to connect with powershell to change the default behavior of the identity.

Before Powershell

Notice that the subject of the meeting invite “OBTP Pre Powershell” isn’t in the subject of the reserved room below. Also, notice that there is no OBTP because the SIP URI was removed from the message body of the invite.

After Powershell

Notice that the subject of the meeting invite “OBTP Post Powershell” is in the subject of the reserved room below. Also, notice that there is an OBTP.

Run the below Powershell commands in order. You should provide your admin O365 account when asked for a username and password.

::To permit signed scripts to run
Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
::Check to be sure 'Basic = True'
winrm get winrm/config/client/auth
::If Basic != True then run
winrm set winrm/config/client/auth '@{Basic="true"}'
::Send O365 credentials
$UserCredential = Get-Credential
::In Pop-up Username: O365-Admin-Username password:O365-Admin-Password
::Run the below
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
::Run the below
Import-PSSession $Session -DisableNameChecking
::Run the below
Set-CalendarProcessing -identity "obtp" -DeleteComments $false -DeleteSubject $false -AddOrganizerToSubject $false
::Disconnect when Done
Remove-PSSession $Session

Awesome! We have made life that much easier! Your Cisco conference devices can now join any SIP based meeting with One Button to Push.

Mike

References

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/exchange/exchange-online/connect-to-exchange-online-powershell/connect-to-exchange-online-powershell?view=exchange-ps

https://help.webex.com/en-us/uuhc6x/License-Requirements-for-Cisco-Webex-Hybrid-Services

https://help.webex.com/en-us/yvz1kw/Make-it-Easier-for-Video-Devices-to-Join-Meetings-with-OBTP#One-Button-to-Push-with-Office-365

https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/voice_ip_comm/cloudCollaboration/spark/hybridservices/calendarservice/cmgt_b_deploy-spark-hybrid-calendar-service.html

Cisco Cyber Ops Scholarship

Back in July, Cisco started a scholarship campaign for their new certification track CCNA Cyber Ops. A 10-million dollar investment would be made to increase the talent pool with critical cybersecurity proficiency.

“Through the scholarship program, Cisco will offer free training, mentoring, and testing designed to help you earn CCNA Cyber Ops certification and hone the skills needed for the job role of security operations center analyst. The new CCNA Cyber Ops certification has been designed to address the critical skills deficit, providing the job-ready knowledge needed to meet current and future challenges in network security.” -Cisco

https://mkto.cisco.com/security-scholarship

The qualification for the scholarship were minimal, (you can find them at the above link) so I decided to apply. After months of no communications and one assessment test, I finally received this….

congrats

Sweet!

Congratulations to anyone that also got accepted. I’m excited to see where this takes me.