200-201 outline - Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals (CBROPS) Updated: 2023
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Exam Code: 200-201 Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals (CBROPS) outline November 2023 by Killexams.com team|
200-201 Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals (CBROPS)
The Cisco 200-201 CBROPS (Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals) exam is a certification exam offered by Cisco Systems. The exam is designed to validate the candidate's knowledge and skills in the field of cybersecurity operations. The following description provides an overview of the CBROPS exam.
To prepare for the CBROPS exam, candidates can undergo training courses that cover the fundamentals of cybersecurity operations. These courses provide comprehensive knowledge and practical skills required to identify and mitigate cybersecurity threats, detect security incidents, and respond effectively to security breaches. The coursework typically covers Topics such as network security, threat analysis, incident response, security monitoring, and vulnerability management.
The CBROPS exam aims to assess the candidate's understanding and proficiency in various areas of cybersecurity operations. The exam objectives include the following:
1. Security Concepts:
- Understanding of key security principles and concepts
- Knowledge of various types of threats and vulnerabilities
- Familiarity with security policies, procedures, and standards
2. Security Monitoring:
- Ability to monitor and analyze security events and logs
- Knowledge of security monitoring tools and techniques
- Understanding of incident management and response processes
3. Host-Based Analysis:
- Understanding of host-based security technologies and techniques
- Knowledge of host-based forensic analysis and investigation
- Proficiency in analyzing host logs and identifying security incidents
4. Network Intrusion Analysis:
- Ability to analyze network traffic for signs of intrusion
- Knowledge of network security protocols and technologies
- Familiarity with network intrusion detection and prevention systems
5. Security Policies and Procedures:
- Understanding of security policies, procedures, and best practices
- Knowledge of compliance frameworks and regulations
- Proficiency in developing and implementing security policies
The CBROPS exam syllabus covers a wide range of cybersecurity operations topics. The syllabus includes the following areas of study:
- Security concepts and principles
- Security monitoring and analysis
- Incident response and handling
- Network security technologies
- Host-based analysis and investigation
- Security policies and procedures
- Compliance and regulatory requirements
The CBROPS exam format typically consists of multiple-choice questions, drag-and-drop scenarios, and simulations that assess the candidate's ability to apply cybersecurity concepts in real-world scenarios. Candidates are expected to demonstrate their knowledge of cybersecurity operations and their proficiency in identifying and responding to security threats.
|Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals (CBROPS)|
Cisco Understanding outline
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Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Operations Fundamentals
Which regular expression matches "color" and "colour"?
B. col[0 - 8]+our
D. col[0 - 9]+our
Refer to the exhibit.
Which type of log is displayed?
An analyst is investigating an incident in a SOC environment.
Which method is used to identify a session from a group of logs?
A. sequence numbers
B. IP identifier
Which type of evidence supports a theory or an assumption that results from initial evidence?
Which two elements are assets in the role of attribution in an investigation? (Choose two.)
D. firewall logs
E. threat actor
Which piece of information is needed for attribution in an investigation?
A. proxy logs showing the source RFC 1918 IP addresses
B. RDP allowed from the Internet
C. known threat actor behavior
D. 802.1x RADIUS authentication pass arid fail logs
An analyst discovers that a legitimate security alert has been dismissed.
Which signature caused this impact on network traffic?
A. true negative
B. false negative
C. false positive
D. true positive
Which two elements of the incident response process are stated in NIST Special Publication 800-61 r2? (Choose two.)
A. detection and analysis
B. post-incident activity
C. vulnerability management
D. risk assessment
E. vulnerability scoring
What should a security analyst consider when comparing inline traffic interrogation with traffic tapping to determine which approach to use in the
A. Tapping interrogation replicates signals to a separate port for analyzing traffic
B. Tapping interrogations detect and block malicious traffic
C. Inline interrogation enables viewing a copy of traffic to ensure traffic is in compliance with security policies
D. Inline interrogation detects malicious traffic but does not block the traffic
What is the difference between the ACK flag and the RST flag in the NetFlow log session?
A. The RST flag confirms the beginning of the TCP connection, and the ACK flag responds when the data for the payload is complete
B. The ACK flag confirms the beginning of the TCP connection, and the RST flag responds when the data for the payload is complete
C. The RST flag confirms the receipt of the prior segment, and the ACK flag allows for the spontaneous termination of a connection
D. The ACK flag confirms the receipt of the prior segment, and the RST flag allows for the spontaneous termination of a connection
Which event is user interaction?
A. gaining root access
B. executing remote code
C. practicing and writing file permission
D. opening a malicious file
An intruder attempted malicious activity and exchanged emails with a user and received corporate information, including email distribution lists. The
intruder asked the user to engage with a link in an email. When the fink launched, it infected machines and the intruder was able to access the
Which testing method did the intruder use?
A. social engineering
Which security principle requires more than one person is required to perform a critical task?
A. least privilege
B. need to know
C. separation of duties
D. due diligence
What are two differences in how tampered and untampered disk images affect a security incident? (Choose two.)
A. Untampered images are used in the security investigation process
B. Tampered images are used in the security investigation process
C. The image is tampered if the stored hash and the computed hash match
D. Tampered images are used in the incident recovery process
E. The image is untampered if the stored hash and the computed hash match
Drag and drop the security concept on the left onto the example of that concept on the right.
An investigator is examining a copy of an ISO file that is stored in CDFS format.
What type of evidence is this file?
A. data from a CD copied using Mac-based system
B. data from a CD copied using Linux system
C. data from a DVD copied using Windows system
D. data from a CD copied using Windows
A security engineer has a video of a suspect entering a data center that was captured on the same day that files in the same data center were
transferred to a competitor.
Which type of evidence is this?
A. best evidence
B. prima facie evidence
C. indirect evidence
D. physical evidence
Which artifact is used to uniquely identify a detected file?
A. file timestamp
B. file extension
C. file size
D. file hash
Which two components reduce the attack surface on an endpoint? (Choose two.)
A. secure boot
B. load balancing
C. increased audit log levels
D. restricting USB ports
E. full packet captures at the endpoint
Refer to the exhibit.
Drag and drop the element name from the left onto the correct piece of the PCAP file on the right.
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Shares of Cisco Systems Inc. fell more than 11% in extended trading today as the company warned it will likely miss analysts’ expectations in its fiscal second quarter by a wide margin.
The company expects this to have a knock-on effect, and its forecast for the current fiscal year also came in low.
The disappointing guidance came in the wake of a solid earnings beat. The company reported first quarter earnings before certain costs such as stock compensation of $1.11 per share, with revenue up 8% from a year earlier to $14.67 billion. The results were better-than-expected, with analysts looking for earnings of just $1.03 per share on sales of $14.61 billion.
All told, Cisco reported a net income of $3.64 billion for the quarter, up from $2.67 billion a year earlier.
Cisco said its problem is that it has experienced a notable slowdown in new product orders during the quarter. This is because many of its clients are currently busy installing and implementing products that were delivered recently, over the prior three quarters, Cisco Chief Executive Chuck Robbins (pictured) said in a conference call with analysts.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company had been stuck with a backlog of unfulfilled orders caused by component shortages. But its supply chain constraints eased rapidly about a year ago as China exited its lockdown strategy, leading to a glut of product deliveries over the last four quarters. Now, customers have their hands full implementing all of those products.
“Our customers and our sales organizations have been very clear with us over the last 90 days that this is the issue,” Robbins said, though he also admitted that sales cycles are still longer than is usually the case.
According to Robbins, “customers are now taking time to onboard and deploy these heightened product deliveries,” hence the slowdown in new orders. He said it’s mainly larger enterprises, service providers and cloud customers that are facing these challenges, adding that the issue was “most pronounced in October.” On average, Cisco’s biggest customers are waiting to implement one to two quarters’ worth of shipped products, he added.
Cisco had a good quarter, but is now suffering from its post pandemic high, when it was finally able to deliver pandemic orders it could not fulfill due to supply chain challenges. Now that it has fulfilled those orders, the demand has weakened as enterprises are implementing and the channel reducing inventories. The good news is all product lines are growing, which has not been too often the case, and Cisco delivered approximately 1B more in profit on roughly 1B more in revenue, which means Chuck Robbins and team have kept costs constant and EPS per share are up a quarter. Let’s see if this trends continues.
Because of these customer issues, Cisco could only offer a much lower forecast than Wall Street analysts had been anticipating. Officials said they’re looking for earnings of between 82 and 84 cents in the second quarter, with revenue of $12.6 billion to $12.8 billion, implying a 7% decline from one year earlier. That compares very badly with the Street’s forecast of 99 cents pre share in earnings and $14.19 billion in sales.
For the full year, Cisco is reducing its revenue forecast while bumping up its view on earnings. The company now sees full-year earnings of between $3.87 and $3.93 on revenue of $53.8 billion to $55 billion. Previously, it had forecast a range of $3.19 to $3.32 in earnings and $57.0 billion to $58.2 billion in revenue. In any case, the new forecast is not great, as Wall Street is hoping for earnings of $4.05 per share on sales of $57.7 billion.
The after-hours stock decline masks the fact that Cisco delivered strong quarterly results, thanks to it finally being able to deliver pandemic-era orders that could not be fulfilled earlier, said Holger Mueller of Constellation Research Inc. “But now those orders have been shipped, it is faced with weakening demand as enterprise implement those products and the channel reduces inventories,” he explained.
Charles King of Pund-IT Inc. said Cisco has been caught on one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations”, because it did a great job in recovering from the pandemic-related supply chain chaos and has gotten back its manufacturing mojo. However, he said many of its customers have been slower off the mark. “Many are still struggling to deploy and configure the new kit they ordered months ago, so you can’t really blame them for slowing or stopping orders to deal with the backlog,” King said. “But investors appear to be blaming Cisco anyway, for failing to live up to analysts’ consensus. That may be short-sighted, but no one ever said that life, let alone the markets, are fair.”
In the longer term, Cisco’s prospects do look better. During the quarter, it announced that it intends to buy the data analytics and cybersecurity software giant Splunk Inc. in a bumper $28 billion deal, which would be its largest-ever acquisition. The move catapults Cisco, which is best known for its networking gear as well as other data center equipment, to the leading ranks of cybersecurity providers.
Robbins said at the time the deal was announced that the combination of Cisco’s and Splunk’s data would have real value for enterprises, allowing them to “move from threat detection and response to threat prediction and prevention.” He said it will enable Cisco to become one of the world’s largest software companies.
Besides its cybersecurity ambitions, Cisco has a lot of hope for artificial intelligence in the longer term. During the conference call, Robbins told analysts that his company believes it can win more than $1 billion worth of orders in fiscal 2025 for AI infrastructure from cloud providers alone. He said cloud providers are looking to move to “more of a standard, broad-based technology like Ethernet, where they can have multiple sources” to support AI networking workloads.
Mueller said it’s also notable that Cisco is running a tight ship in terms of its business expenditures. “Investors can be pleased that all of Cisco’s product lines grew during the previous quarter, which has not been the case too often,” he added. “That allowed Cisco to deliver approximately $1 billion in profit on almost $15 billion in revenue. That shows Cisco has kept its cost base constant, resulting in increased earnings per share. Cisco needs to continue this trend.”
The after-hours stock decline means that Cisco’s shares are now up just 12% in the year-to-date, trailing the wider S&P 500 index, which is up 17% for the year.
Photo: Fortune GLOBAL FORUM/Flickr
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Cisco has a variety of new partnerships and programs aimed at helping enterprises build AI-ready infrastructure.
Cisco is taking a collaborative approach to helping enterprise customers build AI infrastructures.
At its recent partner summit, Cisco talked up a variety of new programs and partnerships aimed at helping enterprises get their core infrastructure ready for AI workloads and applications.
"While AI is driving a lot of changes in technology, we believe that it should not require a wholesale rethink of customer data center operations," said Todd Brannon, senior director, cloud infrastructure marketing, with Cisco's cloud infrastructure and software group.
As AI projects move from science projects in an organization's backroom to mission-critical applications, enterprise infrastructure and operations teams are being challenged because they are dealing with new workloads running on familiar infrastructure but with new requirements, Brannon said.
"The idea is that we want to help our customers deploy and manage AI workloads efficiently, find that right mix of acceleration, and not over provision or leave stranded resources or create new islands of operations," added Sean McGee, cloud & data center technology strategist with Cisco.
One of the ways Cisco intends to help customers is by offering a suite of validated designs that can easily be deployed as enterprise AI needs evolve.
The company recently announced four new Cisco Validated Designs for AI blueprints from Red Hat, Nvidia, OpenAI, and Cloudera to focus on virtualized and containerized environments as well as converged and hyperconverged infrastructure options. Cisco already had validated AI models on its menu from AMD, Intel, Nutanix, Flashstack and Flexpod.
The validated designs allow customers to use these models and fine tune what they want to do for their business, McGee said.
Cisco is building Ansible-based automation playbooks on top of these models that customers can use with Cisco's Intersight cloud-based management and orchestration system to automatically inject their own data into the models and build out repositories that can be used in their infrastructure, including at the edge of the network and in the data center, McGee said.
Cisco's Intersight package manages a variety of systems from Kubernetes containers to applications, servers, and hyperconverged environments from a single location.
"Utilizing Intersight and our systems stack, customers can deploy and manage AI-validated workloads," Brannon said. "The message is that we don’t want our customers and partners having to completely rethink the operation side, even though they’re having to rethink some things on the GPU provisioning side for AI, for example," Brannon said.
In addition, as Cisco gets feedback from its customers on AI-specific features or additional validated designs, it will augment Intersight with new features, Brannon said.
Also, over time these models will evolve as more data is used to tune them, and customers can easily adjust them to fit the needs of their enterprise infrastructure, McGee said. "Our partners, too, can utilize these models to significantly expand their services. [They can] really supply them a head start and relieve a lot of the engineering expense and time that they need to put these services together for customers."
Cisco recently unveiled Data Center Networking Blueprint for AI/ML Applications that defines how organizations can use existing data center Ethernet networks to support AI workloads now.
A core component of the data center AI blueprint is Cisco's Nexus 9000 data center switches, which support up to 25.6Tbps of bandwidth per ASIC and "have the hardware and software capabilities available today to provide the right latency, congestion management mechanisms, and telemetry to meet the requirements of AI/ML applications," Cisco stated. "Coupled with tools such as Cisco Nexus Dashboard Insights for visibility and Nexus Dashboard Fabric Controller for automation, Cisco Nexus 9000 switches become ideal platforms to build a high-performance AI/ML network fabric."
Cisco has also published scripts so customers can automate specific settings across the network to set up this network fabric and simplify configurations, Cisco stated.
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Anaiis Cisco, assistant professor of moving image production in film and media studies, received her master’s in cinema from San Francisco State University in the spring of 2019. Cisco focuses on the experiences of underrepresented racial, ethnic, queer and gendered identities. Her short film, Breathless (2017), inspired by the murder of Eric Garner, has won numerous awards and has screened at various film festivals. Cisco’s most recent short narrative, GYRL (2018), is a portrait of a preteen African American girl struggling with an abusive father. Currently in the early stages of distribution her thesis film, Drip Like Coffee, explores Black womanhood, desire and space, while rendering the Black female body as fluid.
Cisco teaches digital video production courses at Smith, where she develops films that explore the emotional and internal journeys of Black characters, confronting intimate moments of violence and trauma in diverse story worlds.
Breathless (2017), short film.
“Precarity, Black Life, and Filmmaking: A Conversation with Filmmaker Anaiis Cisco.” Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, 2018.
Cisco’s phone systems are designed for larger organizations ‒ they are available as on-premises or cloud-hosted solutions and can support thousands of employees.
Cisco offers a wide range of business phone systems. Cisco’s systems can be hosted in the cloud or on-premises, are easily configured for businesses with multiple locations, and support thousands of employees. All of Cisco’s unified communication systems can be configured specifically with the calling, mobility and collaboration feature an enterprise needs. Additionally, the systems offer contact center services.
View all of our recommendations for best business phone systems.
Cisco offers several different systems, each of which has varying costs. In addition, Cisco systems are sold through resellers in your area. This means that pricing will likely differ by location and the reseller you work with.
Our previous research looked specifically at the Business Edition 6000 system. This is an on-premises system. For our purposes, we asked for pricing for a business with about 150 users.
For this system, we were provided price estimates of one-time charges that started at about $600 per user. This was for the basic service without any of the added applications. We were told to expect the price to increase by $100 per user for every added component. Added components include those for integrated voice messaging, human operator attendants, instant messaging, presence and online meetings. We were given pricing estimates of about $1,300 per user for a system that includes everything Cisco offers.
There are also installation and training costs to consider. To have the system professionally installed and training conducted by the reseller who worked with us, we were told to expect costs to be between 15 and 25% of the total per-user fees.
Keep in mind that these were price estimates by a specific local reseller. Whether you are interested in this system, another on-premises system, or Cisco’s cloud-hosted systems, we would encourage you to contact a Cisco local reseller in your area. They will be able to discuss your specific needs and provide you with more accurate pricing.
The other additional cost to consider, for either hosting option, is IP phones. Cisco offers a wide selection of desktop phones ranging from $150 for a simple breakroom phone to $600 for a top-of-the-line executive phone.
Ease of Use
Cisco offers a variety of on-premises phone systems that support thousands of employees. The solutions we looked at specifically are part of the Business Edition 6000 line.
The Cisco BE6000 is a set of purpose-built, all-in-one Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions designed for businesses with 25 to 1,000 employees. Businesses can choose from several different servers, which vary in the number of users they support and how many devices can be connected to them.
>> Learn More: Explore the Different Types of Business Phone Systems
Various applications that are available with each system are those for mobility, voicemail and automated attendants, auto-dialers, instant messaging, video conferencing and other collaboration tools. In addition to supporting up to 1,000 workers, the BE6000 systems support up to 100 call center users and can accommodate 1,000 voicemail boxes. Additionally, the system can be used by organizations that have up to 50 different locations.
All these features come preloaded onto private branch exchange (PBX) equipment. However, you only activate and pay for the features you need. Should your business grow, and your needs expand, you can “turn on” the features and tools you need. This is nice because you don’t have to change or upgrade equipment when your needs change.
Overall, there are more than 10 different applications to choose from, including the following:
Other applications include those for 911 service, paging, collaboration provisioning and collaboration deployment.
>> Learn More: How Can Business Phone Systems Help Your Small Business?
Businesses with more than 1,000 employees can deploy some of Cisco’s other unified communications systems, which tens of thousands of employees can use.
For those looking for a cloud-hosted system, Cisco offers Webex Calling for midsize businesses. It includes many features, including a virtual receptionist, voicemail, extension numbers, IVR, direct inward dialing, and directory-based dialing. A mobile app also allows employees to access their business line from anywhere. WebEx Calling works in conjunction with Webex Teams.
Cisco’s BE6000 has a conference calling service built into its phone system. With the conference bridge feature, which comes included at no extra charge, each employee can hold their own conference call with up to 24 callers. However, the complete plan allows for an unlimited number of participants.
While the Business Edition 6000 is an impressive business phone solution, we were less than impressed with Cisco’s customer support. We contacted the company multiple times by phone, email and live chat, posing a business owner interested in phone systems.
Each time we reached out to the company, we received less-than-stellar service. For each call, we were quickly told by representatives that they couldn’t help us and we would have to be connected with a local reseller in our area. They took our information and said someone would be in touch with us. One time it took several weeks for us to get a return call from the reseller and several other times, we never received a call back.
On a positive note, the reseller we did speak with was extremely helpful. He provided tons of details about the on-premises and cloud-hosted systems. He talked about how each works and what they include, gave us pricing estimates and followed up by email. However, we can’t guarantee other resellers offer the same high level of service.
>> Learn More: How to Pick the Right Business Phone System for Your Business
We had more success when contacting the company via email. Instead of being immediately turned over to a local reseller, the representative we were messaging gave us some answers to our questions about the system. They also sent data sheets that provided some detailed information on the Business Edition 6000 and its features. However, when we asked for pricing information, we were again told they would need to connect us with a local reseller. Unfortunately, we again never heard back from anyone.
We also weren’t very impressed with the live chat tool on Cisco’s website. Each time we used Cisco’s live chat, the representative couldn’t answer our questions, or we were never connected to a support agent.
If you are interested in this system, Cisco’s website features a link to find a local reseller in your area. This will supply you the contact info for several people who can supply you the information you need on the system and its pricing.
>> Learn More: What is a Business VoIP Number?
Cisco is not an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau. It has a B- rating and has had 23 complaints against it closed in the past three years.
Cisco disclosed a new high-severity zero-day (CVE-2023-20273) today, actively exploited to deploy malicious implants on IOS XE devices compromised using the CVE-2023-20198 zero-day unveiled earlier this week.
The company said it found a fix for both vulnerabilities and estimates it will be released to customers via the Cisco Software obtain Center over the weekend, starting October 22.
"Fixes for both CVE-2023-20198 and CVE-2023-20273 are estimated to be available on October 22. The CVE-2021-1435 that had previously been mentioned is no longer assessed to be associated with this activity," Cisco said today.
On Monday, Cisco disclosed that unauthenticated attackers have been exploiting the CVE-2023-20198 authentication bypass zero-day since at least September 18 to hack into IOS XE devices and create "cisco_tac_admin" and "cisco_support."
As revealed today, the CVE-2023-20273 privilege escalation zero-day is then used to gain root access and take complete control over Cisco IOS XE devices to deploy malicious implants that enable them to execute arbitrary commands at the system.
Over 40,000 Cisco devices running the vulnerable IOS XE software have already been compromised by hackers using the two still-unpatched zero-days, according to Censys and LeakIX estimations. Two days earlier, VulnCheck estimates were floating around 10,000 on Tuesday, while the Orange Cyberdefense CERT said one day later that it found malicious implants on 34,500 IOS XE devices.
Networking devices running Cisco IOS XE include enterprise switches, access points, wireless controllers, as well as industrial, aggregation, and branch routers.
While it's hard to get the exact number of Internet-exposed Cisco IOS XE devices, a Shodan search currently shows that more than 146K vulnerable systems are exposed to attacks.
Cisco has cautioned administrators that, even though security updates are unavailable, they can still block incoming attacks by disabling the vulnerable HTTP server feature on all internet-facing systems.
Admins are also strongly advised to look for suspicious or recently created user accounts as potential indicators of malicious activity associated with these ongoing attacks.
One way to detect the malicious implant on compromised Cisco IOS XE devices requires running the following command on the device, where the placeholder "DEVICEIP" represents the IP address under investigation:
Last month, Cisco warned customers to patch another zero-day bug (CVE-2023-20109) in its IOS and IOS XE software, also targeted by attackers in the wild
On Monday, Cisco reported that a critical zero-day vulnerability in devices running IOS XE software was being exploited by an unknown threat actor who was using it to backdoor vulnerable networks. Company researchers described the infections as a "cluster of activity."
On Tuesday, researchers from security firm VulnCheck said that at last count, that cluster comprised more than 10,000 switches, routers, and other Cisco devices. All of them, VulnCheck said, have been infected by an implant that allows the threat actor to remotely execute commands that run at the deepest regions of hacked devices, specifically the system or iOS levels.
"Cisco buried the lede by not mentioning thousands of Internet-facing IOS XE systems have been implanted," VulnCheck CTO Jacob Baines wrote. "VulnCheck scanned internet-facing Cisco IOS XE web interfaces and found thousands of implanted hosts. This is a bad situation, as privileged access on the IOS XE likely allows attackers to monitor network traffic, pivot into protected networks, and perform any number of man-in-the-middle attacks."
In an email, a VulnCheck representative said the company has "fingerprinted approximately 10,000 implanted systems, but we’ve only scanned approximately half of the devices listed on Shodan/Censys." The number is likely to grow as the scan continues.
Although Cisco has yet to release a software patch, the company is urging customers to protect their devices. That means implementing a stop-gap measure to keep vulnerable devices from being exploited and running a host of scans to detect if devices have been backdoored.
"Cisco is committed to transparency," a company representative wrote in an email Tuesday. "When critical security issues arise, we handle them as a matter of top priority, so our customers understand the issues and know how to address them."We are working non-stop to provide a software fix and we strongly urge customers to take immediate action as outlined in the security advisory."
The previously unknown vulnerability, which is tracked as CVE-2023-20198, carries the maximum severity rating of 10. It resides in the Web User Interface of Cisco IOS XE software when exposed to the Internet or untrusted networks. Any switch, router, or wireless LAN controller running IOS XE that has the HTTP or HTTPS Server feature enabled and exposed to the Internet is vulnerable. On Monday, the Shodan search engine showed that as many as 80,000 Internet-connected devices could be affected.
“Successful exploitation of this vulnerability allows an attacker to create an account on the affected device with privilege level 15 access, effectively granting them full control of the compromised device and allowing possible subsequent unauthorized activity,” members of Cisco’s Talos security team wrote Monday. “This is a critical vulnerability, and we strongly recommend affected entities immediately implement the steps outlined in Cisco’s PSIRT advisory.”
Cisco said that the unknown threat actor has been exploiting the zero-day since at least September 18. After using the vulnerability to become an authorized user, the attacker creates a local user account. In most cases, the threat actor has gone on to deploy an implant that allows it to execute malicious commands at the system or iOS level, once the web server is restarted. The implant is unable to survive a reboot, but the local user accounts will remain active.
Monday’s advisory went on to say that after gaining access to a vulnerable device, the threat actor exploits a medium vulnerability, CVE-2021-1435, which Cisco patched two years ago. The Talos team members said that they have seen devices fully patched against the earlier vulnerability getting the implant installed “through an as yet undetermined mechanism.”
The implant is saved in the file path “/usr/binos/conf/nginx-conf/cisco_service.conf.” It contains two variable strings composed of hexadecimal characters. The advisory continued:
The Talos team members strongly urge administrators of any affected gear to immediately search their networks for signs of compromise. The most effective means is by searching for unexplained or newly created users on devices. One means of identifying if an implant has been installed is by running the following command against the device, where the "DEVICEIP” portion is a placeholder for the IP address of the device to check:
curl -k -X POST "https[:]//DEVICEIP/webui/logoutconfirm.html?logon_hash=1"
Admin accounts may have the names cisco_tac_admin or cisco_support. IP addresses Cisco has seen so far exploiting the zero-day are 5.149.249[.]74 and 154.53.56[.]231.
VulnCheck has released a scanner of its own here.
It should go without saying, but the HTTP and HTTPS server feature should never be enabled on Internet-facing systems as is consistent with long-established best practices. Cisco reiterated the guidance in Monday’s advisory.
This vulnerability is relatively easy to exploit and is presently giving hackers the ability to take all kinds of malicious actions against as many as 10,000 infected networks. Anyone administering Cisco gear that had the Web UI exposed should assume their devices are compromised and carefully read the advisory and the above-mentioned PSIRT advisory and follow all recommendations as soon as possible.
October 17, 2023, 2:50 pm Eastern. This article has been updated with new information about how many systems are infected.
Cisco warned admins today of a new maximum severity authentication bypass zero-day in its IOS XE software that lets unauthenticated attackers gain full administrator privileges and take complete control of affected routers and switches remotely.
The company says the critical vulnerability (tracked as CVE-2023-20198 and still waiting for a patch) only affects devices with the Web User Interface (Web UI) feature enabled, which also have the HTTP or HTTPS Server feature toggled on.
"Cisco has identified active exploitation of a previously unknown vulnerability in the Web User Interface (Web UI) feature of Cisco IOS XE software (CVE-2023-20198) when exposed to the internet or untrusted networks," the company revealed today.
"Successful exploitation of this vulnerability allows an attacker to create an account on the affected device with privilege level 15 access, effectively granting them full control of the compromised device and allowing possible subsequent unauthorized activity."
The attacks were discovered on September 28 by Cisco's Technical Assistance Center (TAC) after reports of unusual behavior on a customer device.
Cisco identified related activity dating back to September 18 following further investigation into the attacks. The malicious activity involved an authorized user creating a local user account with the username "cisco_tac_admin" from a suspicious IP address (5.149.249[.]74).
The company discovered additional activity linked to CVE-2023-20198 exploitation on October 12, when a "cisco_support" local user account was created from a second suspicious IP address (154.53.56[.]231). The attackers also deployed a malicious implant via CVE-2021-1435 exploits and other unknown methods to execute arbitrary commands at the system or IOS levels.
"We assess that these clusters of activity were likely carried out by the same actor. Both clusters appeared close together, with the October activity appearing to build off the September activity," Cisco said.
"The first cluster was possibly the actor's initial attempt and testing their code, while the October activity seems to show the actor expanding their operation to include establishing persistent access via deployment of the implant."
The company advised admins to disable the HTTP server feature on internet-facing systems, which would remove the attack vector and block incoming attacks.
"Cisco strongly recommends that customers disable the HTTP Server feature on all internet-facing systems. To disable the HTTP Server feature, use the no ip http server or no ip http secure-server command in global configuration mode," the company said.
"After disabling the HTTP Server feature, use the copy running-configuration startup-configuration command to save the running-configuration. This will ensure that the HTTP Server feature is not unexpectedly enabled in the event of a system reload."
If both the HTTP and HTTPS servers are in use, both commands are required to disable the HTTP Server feature.
Organizations are also strongly recommended to look for unexplained or recently created user accounts as potential indicators of malicious activity associated with this threat.
One approach to detecting the presence of the malicious implant on compromised Cisco IOS XE devices involves running the following command on the device, where the placeholder "DEVICEIP" represents the IP address under investigation:
"We are working non-stop to provide a software fix and we strongly urge customers to take immediate action as outlined in the security advisory. Cisco will provide an update on the status of our investigation through the security advisory," Cisco's Director for Security Communications Meredith Corley told BleepingComputer in an email statement.
Last month, Cisco cautioned customers to patch another zero-day vulnerability (CVE-2023-20109) in its IOS and IOS XE software targeted by attackers in the wild.
Update: Added statement from Cisco.
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