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Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report: Threats – Inside and Out

Through our ongoing “Inside Out” project at Cisco, our threat researchers have the opportunity to closely examine select networks—with our customers’ permission—to identify evidence of malicious traffic. We use Domain Name System (DNS) lookups emanating from enterprise networks to create a snapshot of possible data compromises and vulnerabilities. This research yielded a significant finding that we presented in the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report—malicious traffic was visible on 100 percent of the corporate networks we sampled, based on analysis of DNS lookups originating from inside those networks.

For the just-released Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report, our researchers focused on the networks of 16 Cisco customers that are large multinational organizations. Their observations during the first half of 2014 yielded three compelling security insights tying these enterprises to malicious traffic:

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Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report: Exposing Weak Links to Strengthen the Security Chain

The Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report has been released, diving into threat intelligence and cybersecurity trends for the first half of 2014.

You may be thinking, “What could have possibly changed since January?” True to form, the attacker community continues to evolve, innovate, and think up new ways to discover and exploit weak links in the security chain. Also true to form, they sometimes simply use tried and true methods to exploit some of the same old vulnerabilities that continue to present themselves. The 2014 Midyear Security Report hits on all aspects and once again illustrates that in the age of the Internet of Things, as the attack surface grows, so too grow the number of attacks, the types of attacks, and the impacts of these attacks. Read More »

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Summary: Mitigating Business Risks

Organizations are rapidly moving critical data into the cloud, yet they still have serious concerns about security and other business risks. Read Bob Dimicco’s blog to learn several important steps companies can take to mitigate the risks of cloud services, such as uncovering shadow IT, assessing data security, and instituting cloud-specific employee policies.

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Far East Targeted by Drive by Download Attack

This blog was co-authored by Kevin Brooks, Alex Chiu, Joel Esler, Martin LeeEmmanuel Tacheau, Andrew Tsonchev, and Craig Williams.  

On the 21st of July, 2014, Cisco TRAC became aware that the website dwnews.com was serving malicious Adobe Flash content. This site is a Chinese language news website covering events in East Asia from a US base. The site is extremely popular, rated by Alexa’s global traffic ranking as the 1759th most visited website worldwide, and the 28th most visited in South Korea. In addition the news site also receives a substantial number of visitors from Japan, the United States and China.

This malware campaign does not appear to be tightly targeted. Twenty-seven companies across eight verticals have been affected:

Banking & Finance
Energy, Oil, and Gas
Engineering & Construction
Insurance
Legal
Manufacturing
Pharmaceutical & Chemical
Retail & Wholesale

This is indicative of the campaign acting as a drive-by attack targeting anyone attempting to view one of the affected sites.

Attack Progression

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Cyber Threat Management from the Boardroom Risk: Lost in Translation

I was at the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit at the Gaylord National Harbor and had the opportunity to attend the session, “Finding the Sweet Spot to Balance Cyber Risk,which Tammie Leith was facilitating.

Tammie Gartner Session

During the session, the panel had been discussing how the senior leadership teams address the problem of putting their signatures against the risk that cyber threats pose to their organizations. Tammie Leith made a point to the effect that it is just as important for our teams to tell us why we should not accept or acknowledge those risks so that we can increase investments to mitigate those risks.

What caught my attention was that the senior management teams are beginning to question the technical teams on whether or not appropriate steps have been taken to minimize the risks to the corporation. The CxO (senior leadership team that has to put their signature on the risk disclosure documents) teams are no longer comfortable with blindly assuming the increasing risks to the business from cyber threats.

To make matters worse, the CxO teams and the IT security teams generally speak different languages in that they are both using terms with meanings relevant to their specific roles in the company. In the past, this has not been a problem because both teams were performing very critical and very different functions for the business. The CxO team is focused on revenue, expenses, margins, profits, shareholder value, and other critical business metrics to drive for success. The IT security teams, on the other hand, are worried about breaches, data loss prevention, indications of compromise, denial of services attacks and more in order to keep the cyber attackers out of the corporate network. The challenge is that both teams use the common term of risk, but in different ways. Today’s threat environment has forced the risk environment to blend. Sophisticated targeted attacks and advanced polymorphic malware affect a business’s bottom line. Theft of critical information, such as credit card numbers, health insurance records, and social security numbers, result in revenue losses, bad reputation, regulatory fines, and lawsuits. Because these teams have not typically communicated very well in the past, how can we ensure that they have a converged meaning for risk when they are speaking different “languages”?

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