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Trust but Verify and Verify and Verify Again

Two recent disclosures show that often the weaknesses in cryptography lie not in the algorithms themselves, but in the implementation of these algorithms in functional computer instructions. Mathematics is beautiful. Or at least mathematics triggers the same parts of our brain that respond to beauty in art and music [1]. Cryptography is a particularly beautiful implementation of mathematics, a way of ensuring that information is encoded in such a way so that it can only be read by the genuine intended recipient. Cryptographically signed certificates ensure that you are certain of the identity of the person or organisation with which you are communicating, and cryptographic algorithms ensure that any information you transfer cannot be read by a third party. Although the science of cryptography is solid, in the real world nothing is so easy.
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What will Security for the Network of the Future Look Like?

In the next few years, there will be more mobile users and more mobile connections than ever:

  • By 2018, there will be 4.9 billion mobile users, up from 4.1 billion in 2013, according to the newly released Cisco VNI forecast
  • In addition, there will be 10 billion mobile-ready devices and connections, which includes 8 billion mobile devices and 2 billion machine-to-machine (M2M) connections

Are the networks that are in place today able to handle the influx and sophistication of devices and data, or is this wave of technology going to usher in a need for a different kind of network?

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that organizations need a flexible, programmable infrastructure that can expand and contract more readily to their needs, especially in terms of security. A security-centric, programmable infrastructure that detects and responds to emerging threat vectors is essential for organizations to thrive in our hyper-connected era.

However, many business and IT leaders are unsure of what that looks like. How can a programmable infrastructure examine security holistically and gain visibility across the entire cybercrime continuum—before, during, and after an attack?

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Secure Access for the Real World, Really?

Yes, really. I just got back from Cisco Live! Milan where Chris Young, Senior VP at Cisco, spoke to the Cisco security story, Intelligent Cybersecurity for the Real World. The Cisco security strategy addresses many security challenges across a range of attack vectors (network, endpoint, mobile devices, cloud, or virtual). It covers the entire attack continuum with point-time solutions and dynamic analysis of real-time security intelligence. This reduces the security gaps and minimizes the complexity. Not many network providers or pure security players can make this claim. Ask your secure access provider, how do you address the access to the broad range of threat vectors? And when a threat comes in how do you manage it? Read More »

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Cisco Hosting Amsterdam 2014 FIRST Technical Colloquium

The registration is now open and there is still time left to respond to the call for papers for the upcoming FIRST Technical Colloquium April 7-8, 2014. Please contact us at for speaker engagements. The event already has an exciting preliminary program covering:

  • Savvy Attribution in the DNS – Using DNS to Geo-locate Malicious Actors
  • Beyond Zone File Access: Discovering interesting Domain Names Using Passive DNS
  • DNStap: High speed DNS logging without packet capture
  • CVSS v3 – This One Goes to 11
  • Securing the Internet Against DDoS Attacks
  • Threat Actor Techniques
  • Mitigating Attacks Targeting Administrator Credentials in the Enterprise
  • Hardware: The root of trust in the cloud
  • Targeted attack case study
  • What does an enterprise monitor for targeted attacks? – CSIRT Playbook II
  • Security uses for hadoop & big data
  • OpenSOC
  • Using HBASE for Packet capture

And many more current issues facing the incident response community. Learn how organizations operationalize intelligence to mitigate and detect advanced threats.

The event’s line-up includes so far already notables from Cisco Security Intelligence Operations (SIO), Symantec, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Farsight. Looking forward to A great TC!

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Email Attackers Tune Pitch for Wide Appeal

In recent weeks, the volume of malicious email carrying attachments has increased substantially. To entice recipients into opening those attachments, attackers are employing pitches across a wide range of subjects.  In doing so, they are defeating the often doled out advice to not open attachments in email received unexpectedly.

One of the more striking examples of this is malicious email exploiting bad economic conditions, job loss, and potential loss of home. The combined legal and job categories comprised 33% of malicious email attachments over the past two weeks, with pitches ranging from bogus employment opportunities to court summons for evictions due to overdue payments.


Other legal-oriented email includes warnings of illegal use of software, copyright infringement, and criminal complaints for alleged non-payment of accounts.


Assuming you were in dire financial straits, it’s not difficult to imagine you would react to an eviction notice such as the following:

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