Enhancing Network Security with Cisco ISE (Identity Services Engine)
As your networks grow in scale, one of the hardest aspects of managing them is controlling who can access the network and how they are allowed to use it. It’s vitally important, as these networks often house private information in large droves. That’s to say nothing of the many systems you might be able to control from a single network.
With all of that in mind, it helps to have technology and tools that improve your ability to control access, and an industry leader in this space is Cisco ISE.
What Is Cisco ISE?
The Cisco Identity Services Engine is a system that helps you control device access to a network, along with levels of access when devices are allowed. Ultimately, it’s a large package with a lot of features, but the gist is that you can control network access for all devices — even on a massive enterprise network — from a single, centralized resource.
It aims to make network access controls easier to manage while improving overall security and control.
What Are the Major Benefits of Cisco ISE?
The full range of benefits is vast, but there are a few key ideas that really stand out when you utilize Cisco ISE.
First is threat detection. When you have a powerful system controlling system access, it can easily alert you when anything is outside of norms. It can also prevent access in such cases until an administrator can review the case.
For similar reasons, Cisco ISE enhances compliance. One of the biggest compliance risks for enterprise networks is the idea of someone gaining incorrect access to privileged data. ISE provides robust protection against that very issue.
Perhaps best of all, Cisco ISE simplifies network authorization. You set the rules, and it uses behaviors across the network to intelligently sort access requests without ever compromising your rules. It requires far less overhead to rapidly and efficiently manage access without creating security risks.
Implementation and Best Practices
Cisco ISE is a game changer, but general benefits and information don’t paint the whole picture. Let’s look at a few use cases to get a better idea of some of the things this system can do for you.
Cisco ISE really shines with bring-your-own-device setups. The system can enable employees to register their personal devices and automatically gain the correct levels of access according to their employee identifiers. Administrators can lock the number of devices per employee — preventing malicious parties from spoofing devices or accounts.
Additionally, ISE makes it easy for employees or administrators to report missing devices. The system can instantly blacklist any reported device, and administrators can easily whitelist such devices if and when the situation is resolved.
Cisco ISE has a licensing feature that allows the system to assess each device before allowing network access. There are many different checks that you can put in place. For example, you can allow ISE to check new devices for software updates before they get on the network. This ensures that every device is up to date.
Similarly, you can check devices for security software, whether or not they have been rooted, and anything else you deem important.
Another great example of Cisco ISE and its power is with guest management. On large networks, you get volumes of requests for guest access (consider airport Wi-Fi as an example). With ISE, you can create portals that will register guests when they first join the network. Registration lowers risk because it takes time and provides credentials for any potential malicious party.
Additionally, registration allows you to display an ad or generally control the flow of guest traffic. You can also require guests to agree to specific terms and conditions, giving you that much more control and liability protection in regard to guest actions.
Cisco ISE is too powerful to cover every possibility, but with a few key ideas in mind, you can see how much the system has to offer network management.
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