Cisco mum on future of ThreatGrid’s partnership arrangements

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Credit: REUTERS/Albert Gea

Having completed its acquisition of ThreatGRID this week, Cisco put forward plans for how the TreatGRID sandboxing technology will fit in the Cisco security portfolio. The company also acknowledged it’s not entirely clear yet on what to do about the many technology-sharing relationships that ThreatGRID has had with other vendors, including Cisco competitor, Check Point.

ThreatGRID is the maker of anti-malware sandboxing technology that Cisco says didn’t have a lot of large customers directly but was expanding through many third-party vendor relationships. In one of them, ThreatGRID last month had joined an alliance with Check Point Software Technologies and six other security vendors to share threat-intelligence. In other publicized partnerships, Guidance Software last month said ThreatGRID would provide malware analysis and threat intelligence to Guidance EnCase customers. Cisco declined to discuss any of the partnership arrangements, but said these are now under review.

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“ThreatGRID is used in a lot of services as an OEM today,” said Scott Harrell, vice president of product management at Cisco. “We’ll evaluate each on a case-by-case basis.” Though Cisco isn’t announcing any radical changes yet—and in fact Harrell said Cisco favors “striving to be more open”—the acquisition of ThreatGRID does put Cisco in the position of having to determine how open it can or will be, especially regarding arch competitors such as Check Point.

“Yes, this is a valid concern, ThreatGRID really went to market with vendor integrations as opposed to enterprise deals. Over time, I expect these types of relationships to get less and less focus, as Cisco tries to win over Check Point customers,” said Rick Holland, principal security analyst at Forrester. He suggested Check Point has more focus on a next-generation firewall strategy than Cisco but that Cisco can be expected to provide more of a “roadmap” in the near term which would overcome any perceived disadvantage. Holland also said Cisco’s buy of ThreatGRID could be “an opportunity for companies like LastLine and Seculert to increase their OEM relationships to fill the ThreatGRID need.”

Though strategy on ThreatGRID’s partnership arrangements may still need to be sorted out, Cisco is discussing what its approach is going to be with ThreatGrid’s standalone sandboxing product. “It’s an on-premises appliance, and if the customer has concerns about data leaving the premises, this is an option,” says Cisco’s Harrell. He points out that Cisco’s AMP technology, which includes sandboxing and other malware-detection mechanisms, makes use of a cloud-based back-end as part of the detection process.

Other vendors are also competing in the anti-malware sandboxing arena, including FireEye, McAfee and Fortinet while Check Point has a sandboxing option for its firewalls.

Cisco plans to integrate the foundation ThreatGRID technology into AMP, as well as Cisco web and e-mail gateways, though this will likely occur in “phases,” and “we’re working on the plans for this,” said Harrell.

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