Cisco Stealthwatch Review

The network visibility feature opens up a whole new pane of glass that didn't exist before but it could be more administrator-friendly


What is our primary use case?

We use Stealthwatch primarily to secure customers' endpoint devices, in order to provide more visibility into their security vectors. We determine where they are getting attacked, if they are getting attacked, how to prevent it, how to fight it, etc. We are really trying to take the fight to the administrator and be a little more proactive, as opposed to being so reactive with security events.

How has it helped my organization?

The network visibility feature opens up a whole new pane of glass that didn't exist before, so when you talk about being able to look into your network and understand what's there for security events, impostering, and everything that Stealthwatch can bring to the table, there's nothing else that a typical customer's going to have installed today that will give them any of that information.

Stealthwatch has definitely increased our threat detection rate. I would say on average probably close to 100%. Especially in the market that we play in, which is largely commercial, a lot of customers are just getting into this, so they literally had nothing and now they have a lot.

It has also reduced our incident response time and the time it takes us to detect and remediate threats, at times by months. In addition, Stealthwatch has helped us reduce false positives.

Stealthwatch helps us save time, money, and administrative work. If you talk about a simple security event that a customer has to react to if they don't have the visibility you don't find out about it until something even worse happens. For example, somebody worked to get into your financial systems and they were somehow siphoning money out, not only did they get in and you didn't detect that, but now money is disappearing out of your account. So the ability to detect that threat immediately and remediate it is the true value of that reliance.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable part is that Stealthwatch is part of a portfolio of security devices from Cisco, so while some of the competition may have other products that could be better or provide a better administrative experience, they don't have the breadth that Cisco does. Cisco literally can touch every single end point, every single ingress and egress point in the network. Nobody else has that.

Stealthwatch has analytics and threat protection capabilities up there with the industry best. It's a super powerful database on the backend, basically giving you access to all the latest and greatest threat detection events that are out there, and they're constantly being updated and monitored, so that's probably the best part about having something like that.

What needs improvement?

I don't have a specific feature request, but my big push with Cisco has always been to make it easier for the administrators to use it. If you look at other products that they've been really successful within software space like Meraki, it's because a customer can jump right in and use it on day one and feel like they're accomplishing something with it. They don't have to have a Ph.D. Anything that we can do to make the customer experience better makes it easier for them to use it, which is what we want, and it also makes it easier for us to sell it.

Obviously usability, but given the space that it plays in, any way that we can continue to increase the security vector coverage is always going to be a net gain for a product like that.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stealthwatch seems to be rock solid.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues with scalability yet.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would give the technical support seven out of ten. When it first came out, the big problem was Cisco obviously didn't have a giant technical team behind it, but that's true of any new product. Over time it has steadily gotten better, so they can solve most problems in a reasonable amount of time at this point.

How was the initial setup?

On a scale of one to ten, I'd call it a six out of ten. Do you need seasoned engineers to put it in? Yes. Do you need a rocket scientist? No.

What was our ROI?

We definitely have gotten an ROI. Look at incidents in the security space when customers are hit with malware or anything like that. These are incidents that cost thousands of dollars or potentially millions of dollars, so the first incident that you prevent, it probably just paid for itself.

The solution's time to value is one of those things that depends on what the customer has in their environment. If they have relatively little security strengthening in their environment, this is something that brings near immediate full value of the product directly to the customer's hands. Obviously, if it's part of a bigger support portfolio that the customer has, it just depends on what they already have or don't have in that environment.

The market that we play in there's a lot of value very often because sometimes this is the first product that they're investing in.

What other advice do I have?

Everybody should have something in this case, because end users are always going to get you in a little bit of trouble. You have people that are executing social engineering attacks, and this will help prevent some of that from entering your network and your environment.

The biggest lesson I've learned is that everybody is a target, and everybody will be a target, unfortunately.

I would rate this solution as seven out of ten, largely because the usability, that day to day stuff is a little bit clunky, while other products out there are better. It's not like there is some unicorn vision in my brain, but rather I've seen other products that customers say, “I really wish it was as easy as this other product.”

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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