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Cisco next-generation firewall marks improvements

The Cisco next-generation firewall, Cisco FirePower, deploys improvements to make the system more 'threat-focused.'

Cisco has beefed up its security portfolio, rolling out new appliances, a management console and upgrades to its FirePower next-generation firewall, which the company said makes the system "fully integrated [and] threat-focused." The improvements to the Cisco next-generation firewall go beyond traditional application visibility and control, according to Cisco, and use such capabilities as reputation-based URL filtering and next-generation intrusion prevention to achieve better malware protection.

Cisco is seeking to gain a foothold among organizations working in the cloud, Internet of Things and virtual environments, or using mobile endpoints to achieve their business goals. To that end, the Cisco next-generation firewall is being retooled, with a unified management console, the 4100 series of appliances for "high-performance applications" and a newly minted Security Segmentation Service -- a consulting and advisory arrangement that guides organizations on security protocols.

"Attackers are getting bolder and coordinating their efforts. The Cisco next-generation firewall acts as a unifying platform, integrating Cisco and third-party security solutions for increased correlation and context," David Goeckeler, senior vice president and general manager for Cisco's security business group, said in a statement. "The result is better protection, and faster detection and response to advanced threats."

DevOps, security skills grow in value

Employees with DevOps and security skills are becoming more valuable to enterprises, according to an IT job trends survey released by the Foote Research Group. The market value of DevOps skills has risen more than 7% in the last year, as companies race to find experienced personnel. The market value of security personnel, meantime, rose almost 6% in 2015, with Foote stating that the maturation of security engineers is cresting just as the increased pace and scope of attacks is requiring more experience. The bad news: Hackers are finding new ways to penetrate network defenses.

"In 2016, I think employers are going to become much more aware that they don't have the right people in their security departments," Foote researchers said in the report.

Among the other IT job trends identified by analysts were projected healthy growth for engineers experienced with cloud, big data, Six Sigma and network design.

The survey examined 2,815 public and private employers in North America, and assessed data for 218,101 IT professionals. According to Foote, the market value of 395 IT certifications has increased over the span of 11 consecutive quarters. However, over a shorter span of three months at the end of 2015, the value of 440 common but noncertified IT skills barely nudged, Foote said.

Global mobile traffic grows 74% in '15

Global mobile data traffic grew 74% in 2015, propelled by a greater number of mobile devices, video and the Internet of Things.

But that growth pales against what's expected, according to Cisco's annual global mobile traffic forecast. The company said it expects mobile traffic to skyrocket over the next four years, increasing from 3.7 PB per month in 2015 to 30.6 PB per month in 2020.

"The number of mobile subscribers is growing rapidly, and bandwidth demand for data and video is increasing," Cisco said in its report, adding that in the next five years, video will become a primary traffic generator.

Other trends highlighted in the report include:

A spike in 4G traffic: Cisco said that although 4G represented only 14% of connections in 2015, it accounted for 47% of mobile data traffic.

Smartphone penetration grows: Smartphones accounted for most of the 563 million mobile devices and connections that were added to mobile networks in 2015. At the same time, average smartphone usage grew 43%, Cisco said, with the average amount of traffic per device topping 900 Mb per month. Overall, global mobile devices and connections grew to 7.9 billion in 2015, up from 7.3 billion in 2014.

Video is the king: Mobile video accounted for 55% of total mobile traffic last year -- thanks, in part, to faster connection speeds. Cisco said cellular connection speeds increased 20%, with an average of 2,026 kilobits per second.

Getting on the wire: Cisco said 51% of total mobile data traffic was offloaded into the fixed network through Wi-Fi or femtocell. Each month, almost 4 exabytes of mobile data traffic were offloaded onto the fixed network.

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