Cisco Debuts AI to Detect Firewall Flaws, Issues Warning on Future Costs


  • Cisco’s executive Jeetu Patel envisions AI transforming the infosec landscape, predicting a shift from defense and response to prediction in cyberattacks.
  • The company introduces an AI Assistant for Firewall Policy, utilizing natural language interface to assess and enhance firewall rules, and an AI tool to detect malware in encrypted traffic.
  • Patel warns that AI services won’t be free, emphasizing the need for monetization to cover the costs of generative AI services, but assures it won’t be an impediment to widespread adoption.

In a visionary revelation at the Asia Pacific iteration of the Cisco Live event, Cisco’s Executive Vice President for Security, Jeetu Patel, foresees a paradigm shift in the information security landscape. The focus is on AI’s potential to revolutionize cybersecurity strategies, particularly in predicting and countering cyber threats. But, Patel issues a stark warning that the era of free AI security services is coming to an end, with end users expected to bear the costs of these innovative defenses.

From Reactive Defense to Proactive Prediction

Patel emphasizes the asymmetry between attackers and defenders in the world of cybersecurity. While attackers need to succeed only once, defenders are burdened with the task of being right every time. With the increasing analysis of cyberattacks, AI is envisioned to empower defenders with predictive capabilities, transitioning from a reactive stance to proactive prediction. Automated responses will play a pivotal role in deflecting imminent attacks.

Traditional security solutions have emerged due to the inability of users to acquire or operate comprehensive security systems. Patel argues that the proliferation of point solutions has resulted in the complex management of overlapping tools. Cisco aims to streamline this complexity by integrating alerts from various products and employing AI to identify patterns that collectively pose a significant threat, simplifying the management of diverse security tools.

Cisco’s AI Tackles Firewall Flaws and Malicious Intrusions

Cisco’s foray into AI-driven security begins with the introduction of an AI Assistant for Firewall Policy. This tool assesses firewall rules and, through a natural language interface, enables administrators to identify and optimize policies. In a preview demonstration, users prompted the Assistant to scrutinize firewall policies applied to an enterprise application, receiving a summary of policies along with identification of duplicates or sub-optimal configurations.

Version 7.4.1 of Cisco’s OS for the Secure Firewall family incorporates AI to identify traces of malware activity within encrypted traffic. This innovative tool showcases Cisco’s commitment to staying ahead in the cybersecurity arms race, uncovering potential threats even in seemingly secure communication channels.

Monetizing AI Services

Patel candidly addresses the looming question of the cost associated with these cutting-edge AI services. While Cisco pledges to provide a certain level of AI within its suite, Patel asserts that running compute services for generative AI comes with a cost. Acknowledging the need for monetization, he assures users that the costs will not be prohibitive, expressing the company’s commitment to achieving broad usage and adoption of Global Cybersecurity Agencies Advocate ‘Secure by Design’ Approach in AI Security Guidance.

As Cisco takes the lead in incorporating AI into cybersecurity, the industry witnesses a pivotal moment. The shift from defense and response to prediction, coupled with AI-driven tools like the Firewall Policy Assistant and malware detection in encrypted traffic, marks a significant leap forward. Yet, the impending costs of these services raise questions about accessibility and affordability. Can the promise of a secure digital future coexist with the inevitability of paying for the privilege of AI-powered protection? The future of cybersecurity lies at the intersection of innovation and economic viability.

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Aamir Sheikh

Amir is a media, marketing and content professional working in the digital industry. A veteran in content production Amir is now an enthusiastic cryptocurrency proponent, analyst and writer.

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