Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Security

Cisco 1Q11 Global Threat Report

The Cisco 1Q11 Global Threat Report has been released. The report covers the period from 1 January 2011 through 31 March 2011 and features data from Cisco Security Intelligence Operations. This quarter’s contributors includes Cisco Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), IronPort, Remote Management Services (RMS), Security Research and Operations (SR&O), and ScanSafe.

Unique Web malware increased 46% from January to March 2011. 16% of encounters were via online searches and webmail. Likejacking, where users are tricked/forced into registering a click with the Facebook “Like” button, increased from 0.54% to 6% throughout the quarter.

Read More »

Tags: ,

Social Media Brings a New Wave of Threats, Part 2

The next wave of spam is now making its way into social networks. One example of this type of threat is the Koobface malware, distributed through social networks such as Facebook. Koobface tricked users into downloading the malware, which then spread via the network of trusted friends. (For more details please read Unsociable: Social Media Brings a New Wave of Threats)

Facebook recognized this malware was a major problem. The trick to solving it, though, was determining how to distinguish the behavior of a bot acting like a human from the behavior of a real human. The initial answer seemed clear: selectively use a “captcha.” A captcha is the squiggly letters or numbers with interspersed lines that websites use to verify the user is a real person, not a bot. It’s very difficult for a machine to read the captcha and enter the right characters. (IMHO it is difficult for a person to enter the right characters, too—so no wonder a bot can’t do it.)

Read More »

Tags: , ,

Credential and Attribute Providers in the NSTIC

This is part of an ongoing series on the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. The introduction to this series can be found here.

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) describes two types of intermediaries between subjects (users) and relying parties: identity providers and attribute providers. This is a separation not frequently found in identity systems. In order to emphasize this distinction, I often use the term “credential provider” or “authentication provider” rather than identity provider to refer to a service that provides authentication services and makes assertions resulting from authentication but does not directly provide attributes about the subject.

A credential provider can be thought of as a key cabinet. The subject authenticates to the credential provider in order to “unlock” the cabinet of credentials. As with a physical key cabinet where different keys inside are used for different things, the credential provider serves different credentials to different services. Ideally, the identifiers used for each of these services would be different; a good identifier is also opaque, meaning that the identifier itself provides no additional information about the subject. Provided that the choice of credential provider itself does not reveal significant information about the subject, a subject can be generally pseudonymous with respect to the relying party until the subject authorizes the release of identifying attributes.

Read More »

Tags: , , , ,

Unsociable: Social Media Brings a New Wave of Threats

Last year brought a surprising, and seemingly positive, change in the number of security threats: it was the first year we saw spam volumes drop. That decrease was a significant change from the previous decade, in which spam volumes roughly doubled every year, compounding to yield a dirty Internet where about 90 percent of the email flowing over the backbone is spam. So does the drop in spam volume mean spam is suddenly less of a problem? Have spammers given up and gone home, or maybe developed a conscience and let up a little?

Unfortunately, no. Spam has just changed. It’s become more sophisticated. We are seeing a massive shift away from the spray-and-pray tactics of the past to much more targeted and complex attacks. One consistent trait of attackers: they always follow the money. Therefore, as social media sites such as Facebook have experienced explosive growth (and explosive valuations), it’s no surprise that threat writers are exploring ways to tap into these networks to deliver the next generation of attacks.

Read More »

Tags: ,

The Gap Between Policy and Implementation

Mark Twain once wrote, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it.” Security policy is a lot like that. Creating a security policy is at the top of the list for anyone looking to really secure their network. But the devil is in the details.

Among the things a security policy needs to cover are:

  • All users
  • All physical and virtual devices
  • All access methods
  • All resource classifications and locations
  • All compliance requirements
  • All of the OSI layers, from the physical layer up the stack to the application layer
  • AND the policy needs to be applied uniformly across the entire distributed enterprise

Read More »

Tags: , , , , ,