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Feb. 25, 2020, 8:35 a.m. EST

Cisco unleashes ‘Thanos’ in hopes for a ‘radical simplification’ of security software

SecureX platform, code-named after Marvel villain, combines disparate security products from Cisco and competitors into a single interface

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By Wallace Witkowski, MarketWatch


Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
Cisco code-named its new security product “Thanos” after the Marvel villain, but launched it Monday as SecureX.

Cisco Systems Inc. is hoping to restore order into a universe of frazzled security professionals through a “radical simplification” that could reduce the number of hungry mouths in a crowded marketplace.

Sound familiar? Well, Cisco /zigman2/quotes/209509471/composite CSCO +0.58%  did internally code-name the product “Thanos,” after the Marvel supervillain who believes he will bring order to a resource-taxed universe by randomly killing half its inhabitants. By launch on Monday, the first day of the 2020 RSA Conference for the cybersecurity industry in San Francisco, Cisco had renamed the product SecureX.

In a statement, Cisco said the product “was code-named to demonstrate similar abilities/powers — strength and speed that SecureX can offer to customers.”

/zigman2/quotes/209509471/composite CSCO 44.90, +0.26, +0.58%

Evil connotations aside, the culling spirit of Thanos plays well into what chief information security officers have long been demanding from their products: Ways of simplifying their information-security needs with scarce resources. Cisco said the SecureX platform is a single, cloud-native interface that brings together threat visibility from all Cisco products as well as third-party products in less than 15 minutes.

“The industry has been flooded with thousands of point products that were meant to help customers but instead created unmanageable environments with products that don’t work together, which has created gaps in businesses’ security posture,” Gee Rittenhouse, the head of Cisco’s security business, said in a statement.

See also: Security software seen as a fractured industry in need of consolidation

Cisco’s pitch is that SecureX is the scalable platform that can simplify the security environment in which companies currently patch together products from up to dozens of vendors. Of course, Cisco — believed to be the largest single security vendor in terms of revenue after years of costly acquisitions — would like to replace many of those products with its own. Cisco said SecureX will be available in June.

“Nearly one-third (31%) of organizations base cybersecurity monitoring and protection on more than 50 different security products,” said Jon Oltsik, senior principal analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group, in a statement. “This not only adds cost and complexity but also makes it harder to detect and respond to cybersecurity incidents in a timely fashion.”

Cisco and its competitors will gather in San Francisco this week for RSA, which runs through Friday. Verizon Communications Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204980236/composite VZ +0.24%  , AT&T Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203165245/composite T +0.37%  and International Business Machines Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203856914/composite IBM -0.61%  have canceled their plans for RSA due to COVID-19 fears, but conference organizers said in an update Friday that they still expect more than 40,000 attendees.

For more: Will the shows go on? Coronavirus hangs over tech conferences

Over the past 12 months, Cisco shares have declined nearly 8%, while the ETFMG Prime Cyber Security ETF /zigman2/quotes/207892345/composite HACK +1.66%  has advanced more than 11%. In comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.04% , of which Cisco is a component, has risen 12%, the S&P 500 Index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.24%  has grown 20% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.43%  has advanced 28%.

/zigman2/quotes/209509471/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 44.90
+0.26 +0.58%
Volume: 12.59M
May 22, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
17.82
Dividend Yield
3.21%
Market Cap
$190.42 billion
Rev. per Employee
$684,933
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/zigman2/quotes/204980236/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 54.10
+0.13 +0.24%
Volume: 19.96M
May 22, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
12.18
Dividend Yield
4.55%
Market Cap
$223.87 billion
Rev. per Employee
$905,626
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/zigman2/quotes/203165245/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 29.88
+0.11 +0.37%
Volume: 26.64M
May 22, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
15.12
Dividend Yield
6.96%
Market Cap
$212.90 billion
Rev. per Employee
$637,332
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/zigman2/quotes/203856914/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 118.39
-0.73 -0.61%
Volume: 4.18M
May 22, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
11.73
Dividend Yield
5.51%
Market Cap
$105.12 billion
Rev. per Employee
$208,845
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/zigman2/quotes/207892345/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE Arca
$ 42.91
+0.70 +1.66%
Volume: 113,870
May 22, 2020 4:00p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime
US : Dow Jones Global
24,465.16
-8.96 -0.04%
Volume: 255.66M
May 22, 2020 5:09p
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/zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime
US : S&P US
2,955.45
+6.94 +0.24%
Volume: 2.19B
May 22, 2020 5:09p
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/zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
9,324.59
+39.71 +0.43%
Volume: 3.40M
May 22, 2020 5:16p
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Wallace Witkowski is a MarketWatch news editor in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @wmwitkowski.

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