Network technologies and trends

April 26, 2015  7:02 PM

Cisco Iron Port ESA doesn’t support Tacacs+ Authentication

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
ACS, cisco ACS, Email filtering

The other day I was integrating Cisco Iron Port ESA with Cisco ACS Server for AAA, I was thinking of utilizing Cisco’s power Tacacs+ protocol, to my surprise Cisco Iron Port ESA doesn’t support Tacacs+. The only option available is radius and it does not provide the granularity and control over the Cisco Iron Port ESA.


After Cisco acquiring Iron Port in 2007, I thought Cisco will further enhance this product and include Tacacs+ features but unfortunately they failed to do so. Being a very powerful email gateway Iron Port offers great features in terms of Anti Spam, Email filtering, email redirection and many reach features, which are customizable as well.

Also there is no proper documentation on how to integrate Cisco Iron Port ESA with Cisco ACS Server.

April 25, 2015  8:15 PM

Cisco CCIE Service Provider Version 4.0 debuts on 22nd of May 2015

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCIE, Cisco, Cisco Press, IOS, IP Routing, MPLS

Starting May 22nd 2015, CCIE Service Provider version 4.0 is making the debut, like other CCIE written exams, the Cisco CCIE® Service Provider Written Exam (400-201) version 4.0 lasts for two hours and one can expect 90-110 questions. These questions are designed to validate how a Service Provider Professional is capable of designing; implementing, diagnosing and troubleshooting complex Service providers network infrastructures and services based on dual stack solutions (IPv4 and IPv6).

The Cisco CCIE® Service Provider Written Exam (400-201) covers following 6 domains

  1. Service Provider Architecture and Evolution
  2. Core Routing
  3. Service Provider Based Services
  4. Access and Aggregation
  5. High Availability and Fast Convergence
  6. Service Provider Security, Service Provider Operation and Management

Since a dedicated title from Cisco Press is not yet released, following Cisco Press titles can be used as the reference for the preparations of the CCIE® Service Provider Written Exam (400-201)

IP Routing on Cisco IOS, IOS XE, and IOS XR: An Essential Guide to Understanding and Implementing IP Routing Protocols

MPLS Configuration on Cisco IOS Software

Cisco Live presentations are also great resources for the preparations; you can find more details about them on the INE CCIE Service Provider v4 Kickoff classes. If you have an access INE All Access Pass you can watch those videos or attend the class live on line.

I wish all those early exam takers all the best. Those who are new to CCIE journey, I encourage them to read the post I wrote about why do I want to be  CCIE ?

April 24, 2015  5:05 PM

SDN will be part of CCIE Certifications

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCIE, Cisco ACI, Python, SDN

Other day I was attending the Online CCIE Community event organized by Cisco Systems, the event was hosted by Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, Vice President and General Manager of Learning@Cisco and there were two amazing speakers

  • Dave Mallory, Chief Technology Officer, Learning@Cisco, CCIE
  • Yusuf Bhaji, Senior Manager, Global Certifications, CCIE

According to Yusuf Bhaji, Cisco will integrate SDN into all of the CCIE Certifications tracks.

Since a new version of CCIE Service Provider is available from the third week of May, all the CCIE aspirers will experience the SDN in CCIE Service Provider exam in form of Cisco Evolved Programmable Network ( e.g. ASR1k/9K, ME3600, etc)

Cisco is also considering to add Cisco ACI ( eg Nexus 9k, AVS) in the next revision of CCIE Data Centre.

However tracks like CCIE R&S, CCIE Security, CCIE Wireless and CCDE will be aligned with Cisco APIC-EM, Open SDN Controllers, WRL Controllers and the SDN content is expected to be included in next revision. Still the dates or the time lines are not known.

I believe it’s a good time for Networking professional to focus on SDN, start mastering scripting languages like Python. For certain SDN and Network programing is going to emerge and those who are already skilled with these skill sets can be seen in more demand.

April 24, 2015  4:06 PM

Palo Alto leads the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls for fourth consecutive year.

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
ASA, Cisco, Firewalls, Gartner, Magic Quadrant, Network firewalls

According to the recently released Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls report, Palo Alto Networks leads the Magic Quadrant for the fourth consecutive year. They share this honor only with checkpoint. I was expecting Cisco with their Fire power services would make some impact at the Enterprise market yet they failed.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 6.15.33 PM

Palo Alto being an innovator into Next Generation Firewall certainly gave them the edge to lead. So far my experience with Palo Alto compared to their competitors in the Next Generation Firewall is far much better, I have experienced some of their competitors Next Generation Firewall fails miserably especially when we turn on the advance features like content filtering,  IPS and so on.

This is not the case with Palo Alto Networks next generation firewall. However Palo Alto have to invest on their training development program not only for their partners but also for Security Professionals who wants to excel on Palo Alto certifications. The report can be downloaded at

April 20, 2015  6:49 PM

Is Palo Alto Networks heading towards the NG IPS dominance?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
NSS Labs, Palo Alto Networks

The recently released Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System (NGIPS) Test Report by NSS labs recognizes the Palo Alto Networks Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) service for its strong security efficiency. NSS Labs performed an independent test of the Palo Alto Networks PA-5020 PAN-OS v6.1.1 with the Next Generation Intrusion Prevention System (NGIPS) Methodology v1.0.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 9.41.53 PM

Source: NSS Lab Report downloaded from Palo Alto Networks 

We all know Palo Alto is making there mark when it comes to Next Generation firewalls and surpassing most of the leaders in the NG Firewall domain. The test report released clearly states that Palo Alto Networks PA-5020 was the only product that blocked 100% of the live exploits during NSS lab test. This kind of report certainly creates huge expectations from Palo Alto Networks and who knows they may dominate the Next Generation IPS domain.

Mr. Vikram Phatak, the CEO of NSS Labs says

Exploits being used by Threat Actors in active campaigns are the most likely source of compromise that enterprises face every day.  The Palo Alto Networks PA-5020 was the only product that blocked 100% of these live exploits during our test, and 98.8% against all exploits, earning a recommendation by NSS Labs for security effectiveness.

The complete report can be downloaded from the Palo Alto networks website. Lets wait and see who is going to dominate the NG IPS Segment in coming years.

April 19, 2015  5:00 PM

What is BIG-IP Access Policy Manager?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
APM, application, cloud, IPv6, Network, REMOTE, SECURE, Ssl vpn, SSO, virtual, Wireless

A BIP-IP Access Policy Manager, popularly known as BIG-IP APM is capable of securing applications, network and even cloud environment in a flexible way, and even it provides high performance access to your applications and network. The BIG-IP APM also provides quite informative insight of who is on your network or cloud, what applications they are access with what devices, from where, and what time they are trying to access and simultaneously maintaining unified, context-aware, policy-based control of their access irrespective of weather it’s a remote, local, web, wireless or a cloud access.

BIG-IP APM is available in three deployment options

  1. Add-on module for BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager ( LTM)
  2. Can be installed and run on BIG-IP LTM Virtual Edition.
  3. BIG-IP Edge Gateway.

BIG-IP APM comes our with many features like

  • AAA Support
  • IPV-6 Ready
  • Single-Sign-On (SSO) Enhancements
  • Real-time Health Data
  • Supports SSL VPN

April 12, 2015  5:01 AM

Android Installer Hijacking Vulnerability is capable of exposing Android users to malware’s.

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
Amazon, Android, Google, Mobile, Palo Alto Networks, Password, samsung

It’s been estimated that almost half of Android devices are prone to newly discovered vulnerability “Android installer hijacking”. This vulnerability is capable of allowing third parties to access an Android device and empowers them to install their own surveillance malware; even they can steal the personnel data from an Android device.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 7.51.31 AM

Picture Courtesy: Palo Alto Networks

The Palo Alto Networks researchers discovered this vulnerability and according them, this vulnerability triggers only when an Android app is either downloaded from any third party app store or when users clicks on the advertisements displayed by the app.

The summary published by Palo Alto is as follows

  • Android Installer Hijacking allows an attacker to modify or replace a seemingly benign Android app with malware, without user knowledge. This only affects applications downloaded from third-party app stores.
  • The malicious application can gain full access to a compromised device, including usernames, passwords, and sensitive data.
  • Palo Alto Networks worked with Google and major manufacturers such as Samsung and Amazon to inform them of the vulnerability and issue patches for their devices.

The suggestion from Palo Alto Networks is to install a vulnerability scanner, which Palo Alto Networks developed especially for this vulnerability.Pick up the free installer from the Google Play Store. The only way to avoid being affected by these kinds of vulnerabilities is to download the apps, which are available in Google Play Store.

The complete report can be read at this link.

April 5, 2015  8:15 PM

Palo Alto Networks Migration Tool 3.0 is out.

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

When it comes to migrating towards Next Generation Firewalls like Palo Alto firewall, the task becomes quite challenging and tedious. It’s not easy and practical to migrate rule by rule from the traditional firewall to Palo Alto next generation firewall. Under these circumstances the migration tool, becomes quite handy and makes the life of Network Security Engineer quite easier especially when this tool is capable of migrating various firewall rules, addresses and service objects to a PAN-OS XML config file, which can be imported into a Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewall. This stands true if the rules are few and one knows how Palo Alto firewall works.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.07.28 PM

Recently Palo Alto Networks announced the Migration Tool 3.0, which comprises of the following features.

  • Third-party Migrations to a Palo Alto Networks firewall
  • Adoption of App-ID and User-ID
  • Policy optimization to clean and improve policies and objects
  • Consolidation of third-party firewalls into multiple virtual systems
  • Centralized management with Panorama

Despite of migration tools from Palo Alto, the task is quite complex, often we see people ending up going with Professional Services of Palo Alto. If the migration becomes easier with these kinds of tools it certainly adds value to business and one can debate of the flexibility of the Next Generation Firewall offers.

April 3, 2015  7:58 AM

According to Opus One research, Cisco Email Security ranks as Industry leader in Anti Spam Efficiency.

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
Cisco, Email, Email security, Gartner, Iron Port, Network, Networking, Spam

Recently Opus One, an independent research firm released report for most popular anti-spam solution for the year 2014, where Cisco Email Security ranked as industry leader for the second year in a row. T

Optus one tested all the anti-spam solutions in Gartner’s July 2014 “Leaders,” “Visionaries,” and “Challengers” for a period of one year and declared Cisco Email Security as no 1.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 10.46.52 AM

Based on my experience with various players in the Email Security area, I discovered Cisco Email Security solutions lead from the front. Had many opportunities to migrate from some of the Non Cisco Email security solutions to Cisco Email Security solutions and did saw the huge improvement especially in the area of anti-spam emails. Cisco Email Security out stands among its competitors, however this doesn’t remains the same in Web Security area.

Opus one tested all those solution providers based on the following criteria to declare Cisco a leader in Anti Spam efficiency

  • Approximately 10,000 messages were selected at random for testing each month, with a total of 130,227 messages in the final evaluation set
  • Messages were drawn from actual corporate production mail streams
  • Messages were received live and tested with less than a one-second delay
  • Tested products were acquired directly from the vendor or through normal distribution channels and were under active support contracts. Cloud-based solutions were only used when an appliance-based solution was not available. Tested products were “up to date” with current released software and signature updates and all settings were reviewed by each vendor’s own technical support team
  • Messages were hand classified as “spam” and “not spam” to ensure data validity
  • Each of the tested products included the vendor-recommended or integrated reputation service in the results

Further details of this report can be accessed from this link.

March 30, 2015  5:46 AM

CCDE lab dates for year 2016 are announced

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan
CCIE, Certifications, Cisco

After CCIE if any other Cisco Certification do have a value and hard to achieve is Cisco Certified Design Expert, Cisco does offer CCDE exam only once is three months and one can take maximum of four attempts per year. There are really very few CCDEs in world. Like any Cisco expert exam CCDE does cost 1600 USD. Its worth considering CCDE especially when, it is one of the reputed and hardest Industry certificate.

The schedule for year 2015 and 2016 is as follows

Exam Date Date Registration Closes* Pearson Professional CenterLocation

   May 19, 2015
 Monday,May 18, 2015 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest to you

August 19, 2015
 Tuesday,August 18, 2015 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

November 19, 2015
 Wednesday,November 18, 2015 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

   February 25, 2016
 Wednesday,February 24, 2016 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

   May 17, 2016
 Monday,May 16, 2016 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

   August 31, 2016
 Tuesday,August 30, 2016 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

   November 17, 2016
 Wednesday,November 16, 2016 Worldwide locations. Schedule your exam at location nearest you

You can find more detail at Cisco Learning Network website. As far training is concerned there are few trainers who are providing CCDE training or boot camp. INE is one of the leading training providers in CCDE, however Orhan Ergun is offering online CCDE training for CCDE exam. Worth contacting INE or Orhan for the training they are offering.

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