Cisco announced a new technology, called Trusted Security (TrustSec), that integrates identity and role-based security measures for enterprise networks.

TrustSec is designed to address the increasing number of compliance requirements for a global and mobile workforce, and ultimately enable a more agile and secure infrastructure .

“Customers are demanding a highly secure way to expand their businesses and compliance policies,” Jayshree Ullal, senior vice president of the Data Center, Switching, and Security Technology Group at Cisco, said in a statement.

“The Cisco TrustSec architecture delivers a new paradigm for security in role-based user access to applications and resources without compromising business velocity,” Ullal added.

Tapping the Cisco Lineup

Cisco TrustSec taps into several components of the Cisco lineup to create a trusted enterprise network. The solution depends on Cisco switches along with Cisco routers and Cisco Unified Wireless Network controllers as a foundation for authenticating users, assigning roles, enforcing access policies, and delivering integrity and confidentiality to network traffic.

Cisco TrustSec includes Role-Aware Secure Campus Access Control, in which access to the network is determined by an individual’s role in the company. This “role aware” network helps enforce identity-based security policies pervasively across the network, regardless of the network access method or device, Cisco said.

With the Converged Policy Framework, various authentication mechanics are converged into a single central policy engine that communicates across the entire switch infrastructure. This framework, Cisco said, addresses the I.T. challenge of managing policies consistently across the network by simplifying the control of identity policies through disparate authentication methods.

In addition to these components, what Cisco is calling Pervasive Integrity and Confidentiality is designed to help maintain the integrity and confidentiality of data as it moves through all points in the network. This, the company said, safeguards against data leakage, supports regulatory requirements, and increases the privacy of the network itself.

Key for Compliance Strategy

Understanding which users do what and where on networks and on applications is a key component of the compliance strategy of nearly every enterprise, according to Andreas Antonopoulos, senior vice president and founding partner of Nemertes Research.

“Doing so requires implementing a security architecture based on the roles and identities of users. In our recent benchmark on security and information protection, enterprise I.T. executives cited Cisco as the top strategic security vendor relied on to help with these and other security initiatives,” Antonopoulos said in a statement.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group, called Cisco TrustSec the evolution of self-protecting networks. In the global and mobile world, he said, identity becomes much more important. “Identity is important not only from a security standpoint, but it will also be used to define a user’s context, which includes presence and other information,” Kerravala said.

Cisco TrustSec functionality is scheduled to be rolled out for the Cisco switching platforms over the next 18 months, beginning in the first quarter of 2008.