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Cisco report reveals decline in defender confidence

Only 45 per cent of organizations worldwide are confident in their security posture as today’s attackers launch more sophisticated, bold and resilient campaigns, according to the Cisco 2016 Annual Security Report, which examines threat intelligence and cyber security trends.


January 21, 2016
By Canadian Security

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While executives may be uncertain about their security strength, 92 per cent of respondents agree that regulators and investors will expect companies to manage cyber security risk exposure. These leaders are increasing measures to secure their organizations’ future, particularly as they digitize their operations.

“Security is resiliency by design, privacy in mind, and trust transparently seen. With IoT and digitization taking hold in every business, technology capability must be built, bought, and operated with each of these elements in mind. We cannot create more technical debt. Instead, we must meet the challenge head-on today,” says John N. Stewart, senior vice-president, chief security and trust officer, Cisco.

The Cisco report highlights the challenges businesses face due to the rapid advancements of attackers. Hackers increasingly tap into legitimate resources to launch effective campaigns for profit-gain. Additionally, direct attacks by cybercriminals, leveraging ransomware alone, put US$34 million a year per campaign into their hands, notes the report.

Businesses are up against security challenges that inhibit their ability to detect, mitigate and recover from common and professional cyberattacks. Aging infrastructure and outdated organizational structure and practices are putting them at risk, says Cisco.

Findings from the report include:

·           Less than half of businesses surveyed were confident in their ability to determine the scope of a network compromise and to remediate damage. But, an overwhelming majority of finance and line-of-business executives agreed that regulators and investors expect companies to provide greater transparency on future cyber security risk. This points to security as a growing boardroom concern, says Cisco.

·           Between 2014 and 2015, the number of organizations that said their security infrastructure was up-to-date dropped by 10 per cent. The survey concluded that 92 per cent of Internet devices are running known vulnerabilities. Thirty-one per cent of all devices analyzed are no longer supported or maintained by the vendor.

·           As more enterprises look closely at their supply chain and small business partnerships, they are finding that these organizations use fewer threat defense tools and processes. For example, from 2014 to 2015 the number of SMBs that used web security dropped more than 10 per cent.

·           Online criminals have shifted to compromised servers, such as those for WordPress, to support their attacks, leveraging social media platforms for nefarious purposes. For example, the number of WordPress domains used by criminals grew 221 per cent between February and October 2015, states the report.

·           While often viewed by security teams as a low-level threat, malicious browser extensions have been a potential source of major data leaks, affecting more than 85 per cent of organizations, Cisco comments. Adware, malvertising, and even common websites or obituary columns have led to breaches for those who do not regularly update their software.

·           Nearly 92 per cent of “known bad” malware was found to use DNS as a key capability. This is frequently a security “blind spot” as security teams and DNS experts typically work in different IT groups within a company and don’t interact frequently, Cisco explains.

·           With organizations increasingly adopting digitization strategies for their operations, the combined volume of data, devices, sensors, and services are creating new needs for transparency, trustworthiness, and accountability for customers, concludes the report.