Cisco Secure Endpoint Review

Makes it possible to see a threat once and block it across all endpoints and your entire security platform

What is our primary use case?

Cisco AMP is an anti-malware and antivirus product. It provides endpoint protection. We use it as our antivirus and anti-malware tool. We put it on all our computers. Our employees have it on their laptops because they leave the network and we can't protect them everywhere. Microsoft Windows comes with a built-in tool but it's not quite as powerful. So we use Cisco AMP and Microsoft System Center Endpoint.

Cisco AMP is our primary solution, but we don't uninstall the free ones that come with Windows.

It runs a little agent on the computer and then you manage it from a website platform. There is an application installed on the computers and they all connect up to the management console, which is hosted in Cisco's cloud.

You can use it for single endpoints. We have 3,000 that we use and then there's the free version of it you can use for home.

How has it helped my organization?

The actionable alerts in the security console are very good and very useful. They alert us immediately when something happens so that we can take action faster, instead of having to wait until a user report's something or until we view the logs. It sends you alerts so that you can know about them as soon as they happen and remediate the problem. It's a very nice feature.

The solution also makes it possible to see a threat once and block it everywhere, across all endpoints and your entire security platform. You can identify a threat and then mark it as, "If you ever see this file, delete it." It uses something like crowdsourcing, where, if someone works for another company and has AMP and it detects a malicious file on that person's computer, it then updates so that my AMP knows about the virus at that person's company, and protects my company from their virus.

Cisco AMP simplifies endpoint protection detection and response workflows. I'm the only one who manages it now, so it frees up time for a lot of other people. Once it is deployed and set up, one person can manage and maintain it. That reduces the number of people you have to pay for those responsibilities. The console will show if an AMP agent has checked in and I can use all the search features it has. And it deletes all the viruses so I don't really have to do too much, once it has been installed.

It has also minimized security risks to our business that we were previously unaware of. It points out vulnerabilities in software that is already installed, such as in Microsoft Office. If you don't have the latest version of Office, AMP proactively lets you know that you could potentially be infected. We didn't have that before. It has a more comprehensive database that's made up of all the information it has collected from my company and all the other companies that use it. It takes all that information and protects your environment from anything it's ever seen.

When it comes to time to detection, Cisco AMP has taken it from one day to one hour. And our time to remediate has gone from hours to minutes. It does it itself, so we don't have to do anything. 

I can't think of a case where a computer was infected and AMP did not let us know or missed it. It has never happened to us that the product didn't detect something while another product did detect that problem. So far it has been 100 percent successful.

What is most valuable?

I like the central management console where I can see everything that's going on, on all the computers. 

Another of my favorite features is called the Device Trajectory, where it shows everything that's going on, on a computer. It shows the point in time when a virus is downloaded, so you can see if the user was surfing the internet or had a program open. It shows every running process and file access on the computer and saves it like a snapshot when it detects something malicious. It also has a File Trajectory, so you can even see if that file has been found on any of your other computers that have AMP.

One of the things that is most impressive is its ability to give so much insight. That's another of its best features. With the File Trajectory, it shows everything the computer's doing and it can help determine how the virus got onto the computer.

You set it and forget it. Once you install it and configure it, it runs the reports, putting everything on the central web console.

You're able to subscribe to alerts, so I get an email every time it deletes a virus off of someone's computer. I also get an email if it has a problem, such as if it was unable to delete the entire virus. It will say "Quarantine unsuccessful."

It allows as many people as you want to go in and view it. And you set people as administrators or as people that can just view the information.

AMP also has several tools you use to link to websites that contain more information about things. They're useful as well. They give you the ability to look at different companies' information; for example, a virus total. You can also connect it to other modules and tools that you have, and it can do things such as quarantine where it will take a computer off the network for you automatically. Those tools are helpful. It provides a concept they call "distance and depth," where you get more than one company's opinion on things.

We just started using its Orbital Advanced Search feature. It's relatively new, so we haven't used it a whole lot, but for the little bit that we have used it, it has been a really neat tool. I've only run it on a couple of endpoints so far, but it works pretty well. It just gives you that extra insight to help better understand how the rest of your environment could be affected. Obviously, you're dealing with a computer that has a virus already and this gives you an ability to assess what else could have happened with that virus. It helps provide more information. 

The Orbital Advanced Search feature also helps to reduce the attack surface and to investigate real-time data on our endpoints. Some of the queries will show you which software packages you have that are vulnerable, like a version of an Office program or an Adobe Reader that has a vulnerability in it. Once you know that information, you can proactively patch the computer or apply updates to it so that it does not become infected. It alerts you to an infection, and then you can say, "Oh, these other computers could be infected by that too." Orbital detects those computers. It reduces the amount of time we spend on that kind of situation by about 20 percent.

In terms of the comprehensiveness of the solution, it does Windows great. It works on Macintosh very well. It also does iPhone and Android. It's pretty comprehensive since it covers the majority of operating systems.

It also integrates very well with other Cisco products. It has an API interface so you can integrate it with just about any Cisco product. It does have some out-of-the-box stuff and definitely integrates great with all the other Cisco tools. But we use something called Rapid7, it's a vulnerability scanner, and it's able to integrate with it very well to help report data. It works well with some third-party products, but I'm not sure how many.

What needs improvement?

The endpoint agent on a machine doesn't provide much data. 

And the thing I hate the most, which they have not fixed, is when it creates duplicate entries within a console. If you have a computer and you upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, or you upgrade your agent from version 6 to 7, it creates a new instance in there instead of updating the information. Instead of paying a license for one computer, I have to license two computers until I manually go in, search for all the duplicate entries, and clean them out myself. There are features that are supposed to work that don't that reduce the duplicates.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Cisco AMP for Endpoints for five years. I started with the company as they were in the process of determining if they wanted to use it and they decided they wanted it. I have been managing it ever since. We're upgrading everybody to 7.1.5. They were on version 6.2 for a year. Before that, it was 5.1.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's stable. We only had one or two instances, over five years and 3,000 computers, where the agent has stopped working and we had to reinstall it. That's a pretty high percentage of availability, like 99.9 percent of the time there have been no problems.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is the best. I've never had technical support better than Cisco's in my 15 years working with different companies. Nothing is better than Cisco TAC. The response time is always within an hour or less.

If you don't get a response in that time, you can have the case put back in the queue. You can easily escalate it. When you open a case, it tells you the engineer who is assigned to it and then gives you a manager's contact information so you don't have to say, "Let me speak to your manager." You already have that information.

There are tons of support people working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Also, there are so many users — Cisco customers — that even searching the information online through their support Knowledge Base is good and easy to do, if you don't feel like talking to somebody. You can find a lot of information online whereas one of Cisco's competitors, Palo Alto, has a tool called Traps. It would be a lot harder to find information about that.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We replaced a Norton product with AMP. Now, we run the default Windows tools that come with it, along with Cisco AMP. The Windows solutions are free but we wanted to buy a more robust one with better ability to search and do forensics. There are similar solutions to Cisco, but it has definitely been an improvement over previous stuff that we've used.

We have a lot of other Cisco products that it integrates with, and that was one of the reasons we chose Cisco AMP. We did a demo and it was good and it answered the questions we had. We wanted to be secure, so we needed to find an antivirus tool that works. It makes it easier for us to monitor all of the computers for viruses.

How was the initial setup?

I helped set up and deploy it. It was pretty straightforward. You go to the web console, tell it to create a package, download it and then install it, and you're done.

With 3,000 computers, we rolled it out at about 1,000 at a time and it took about three months. We could have done it in a week. We just did it very slowly because any changes you make, you're supposed to do a test community of computers. We did the IT people first because they're smart at troubleshooting things. 

There's another tool from Microsoft called SCCM, a deployment tool, and as we upgrade the client it takes two days to push it out to the thousands of computers because some people don't turn on their computers for a day or two. Everybody is going to do their deployment differently.

What was our ROI?

We have seen return on our investment with this tool. The amount of stuff that it detects and blocks has been very valuable.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is very good and the licensing is somewhat of an honor system. We have a license for 3,000 users and if we get up to 3,100 users, it doesn't stop working, but on the next renewal date you're supposed to go in there and add that extra 100 licenses. It's really good that they let you grow and expand and then pay for it. Sometimes, with other products, you overuse a license and they just don't work.

Once you pay a license for a client, that's it. Everything else we talked about, the integrations and those kinds of things, is free. There's only one level of licensing too. Some products are set up so that if you pay this much you get these features and if you pay that much you get those features. Here, everything comes with one price.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The main competitor was Palo Alto with Network Traps. The difference was that Traps would detect viruses but it would not delete them or clean them, whereas AMP did, right out-of-the-box. AMP also worked with multiple operating systems, as I mentioned and the Traps solution did not offer that at the time I looked at it.

What other advice do I have?

They keep adding more features to it and there are features you can enable and turn off. One of the best, newer features addresses the fact that it did not work unless you had an internet connection. They put an antivirus engine on there that works when it does not have an internet connection. That was a big deal. It has a lot of capabilities. They keep developing more for it, which makes it a better product.

Be sure to password-protect it so that users can't disable it. It has a feature to add a password to it which prevents the user from uninstalling or even stopping it. Also, enable that offline antivirus engine called Tetra. You want to be sure to enable that so that it works when it doesn't have an internet connection.

Using the product, what I've learned is that you need to keep the client up to date. One of the hardest things is that people have computers that come and go. Someone might have a laptop that breaks and the company will give them a new one. You've got to manually find that broken laptop and delete it. You want to make sure you go in there frequently to ensure that the information is accurate or up to date. If you wait too long and there are hundreds and hundreds of computers you have to search and work. That's way too much.

We did Threat Response and we did a demo of Threat Grid and did not move forward with it. We had it integrated with ISE and Umbrella. Threat Response provides a little bit more information but, honestly, it wasn't that useful. It seemed like it was a repeat of what we could already find through the other tools we had. Threat Response isn't the best add-on to it, but it's free. It provides more information but the response wasn't that good, those times that I used it. Threat Response didn't impress me. It does do more, but it's not that useful.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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