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Bridging the Looming Global IT Security Professional Shortage

I must admit that I recorded the accompanying video blog post before I had a chance to read the 2014 Cisco Annual Security Report (CASR), but this time slip on my part sets up a now-more-than-ever situation for what I’m about to tell you. The CASR projects 500,000 to 1,000,000 person global shortage in the number of IT security professionals that public and private sector organizations will need to cope with the security challenges of the foreseeable future. Yikes!

How will societies around the world bridge this gap? Technical schools and universities can train new people, but that’s going to take time for them to respond to demand, much less do the actual training. Public and private organizations can also recruit existing security professionals, but this can quickly turn into a bidding war for talent. I can also project increased demand for outsourced security services, but many of the supply and demand dynamics will apply here as with recruiting from the pool of established experts. Read More »

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Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report: Cybercriminals Applying “Old” Techniques in New Ways

We know that as time goes on, the cybercrime network’s operations will only more closely resemble those of any legitimate, sophisticated business network. And like all enterprising businesspeople, those who are part of the “cybercriminal hierarchy”—which is discussed in the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report and illustrated below—look to increase their profits by continually innovating new products and improving upon existing ones.

This was certainly the trend in 2013: Cisco researchers observed cybercriminals applying several tried-and-true techniques in new, bold, and highly strategic ways. The Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report examines some of these actions and our associated research in detail, including:

  • Brute-force login attempts: There was a threefold increase in the use of brute-force login attempts just in the first half of 2013. Cisco TRAC/SIO researchers discovered a hub of data with millions of username and password combinations that malicious actors were using to feed these actions. Many brute-force login attempts are being directed specifically at popular content-management system (CMS) platforms like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. (Read the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report to find out why CMS platforms are favored targets—especially for adversaries trying to commandeer hosting servers in an effort to compromise the Internet’s infrastructure.)
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks: Another oldie but goodie among cybercrime techniques, DDoS attacks have been increasing in both volume and severity since 2012. But today’s DDoS attacks aren’t just about creating disruption for businesses or making a political statement. There is evidence some attacks are now being used as smokescreens to conceal the theft of funds. The DarkSeoul attacks, examined in the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report and a big focus for our researchers last year, are an example of this strategy. Looking ahead, we expect DDoS attacks launched through DNS amplification to be an ongoing concern. (It’s not a big leap when you consider The Open Resolver Project reports that 28 million open resolvers on the Internet pose a “significant threat.”)
  • Ransomware: In 2013, we saw many attackers moving away from traditional botnet-driven infections on PCs and increasing their use of ransomware. This includes a new type of malware in this category called Cryptolocker, which our researchers discovered last fall. Ransomware prevents normal operation of infected systems until a prescribed fee is paid. It provides a direct revenue stream for attackers—and it’s hard to track.

The Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report also notes that while the tactics used by today’s profit-oriented online criminals are only growing in sophistication, there’s a shortage of security talent to help organizations address these threats. The bottom line: Most organizations just don’t have the people or systems to monitor their networks consistently. There’s also a clear need for data scientists who can help the business understand why cybersecurity needs to be a top priority, and how security and business objectives can (and should) be aligned.

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Securing the Future Enterprise

This blog post is part three of a three-part series discussing how organizations can address mobile security concerns through an architectural approach to mobility. The first post discusses how next-gen Wi-Fi models will pave the way for secure mobility. The second post highlights the risks versus the rewards of mobility.

Providing corporate network access via mobile devices is nothing new to today’s IT administrators. However, the future of BYOD and mobility will change as rising generations expect and demand more seamless and secure connectivity. Recently Tab Times editor Doug Drinkwater shared a similar idea: BYOD is still in an early phase with plenty of new challenges and opportunities ahead.

In this last installment of this security and mobility series, I’ll discuss why BYOD policies will change and outline how C-level executives can leverage employees as solution drivers in order to solidify the future of mobility within their organization. Read More »

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Mobile Security: Is the Risk Worth the Reward?

This blog is part two of a three-part blog series discussing how organizations can address mobile security concerns through an architectural approach to mobility.

In my first post of this three-part series, I discussed how next-gen Wi-Fi models will pave the way for secure mobility and the value of secure Wi-Fi. In this post I’d like to take the mobility conversation a bit further and outline potential risks and rewards that IT departments face when deciding to deploy mobility solutions in our Internet of Everything (IoE) landscape.

A big factor for IT to adopt a mobility strategy with new technology and solutions is weighing the practical risks versus the rewards they stand to gain. A recent ISACA survey of IT professionals offered insight into how employed consumers think and act in terms of security and mobility. The study and ISACA’s 2013 IT Risk/Reward Barometer reveal:

  • Only 4% of those surveyed named the makers of their mobile phone apps as the entity they most trust with their personal data
  • 90% don’t always read privacy policies before downloading apps to their devices

Most of us are familiar with the rewards of mobility, but the belief and behavior gap illustrated by the ISACA survey proves we need to better understand risks of mobility. Read More »

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Detecting Payment Card Data Breaches Today to Avoid Becoming Tomorrow’s Headline

TRACA few months ago we discussed the various ways that consumer PII is compromised. The recent attacks against Target and Neiman Marcus illustrate the constant threat that payment card accepting retailers of all sizes face. Yesterday Reuters reported that similar breaches over the holidays affected “at least three other well-known U.S. retailers”. Given the current onslaught, it’s a good time for retailers to examine their detection capabilities before a payment card data attack, while creating new goals for shortening remediation windows during and after an attack.

magnetic stripe track data

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