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Creating a More Secure Internet

Trust is a fundamental requirement for people to use the Internet with confidence, and Cisco continues to find opportunities to make the Internet even more secure.

I am happy to share that we are a founding sponsor of a new public benefit consortium called the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG). The goal of the ISRG is to advocate the use of SSL/TLS technologies by promoting the installation, use and maintenance of digital certificates for Internet services such as Web servers.

Digital certificates provide the anchor for secure communication, and more certificates enable more trusted network traffic. This initiative will significantly reduce the total surface area of exposure by preventing untrusted traffic from becoming bigger attacks.

Currently, deploying secure Internet services requires an intricate series of administrative steps. The ISRG is developing a set of open, standardized APIs for managing certificates and an initial Certificate Authority (CA) that implements these APIs. The vision is that all Internet services will seamlessly acquire and renew certificates during the normal server installation and maintenance processes. Over time, this frictionless approach should greatly expand the number of Internet services that are more rigorously secured.

The ISRG is launching with a diverse set of commercial and non-commercial sponsors. One of the reasons Cisco supports the ISRG approach is their commitment to the open community – its protocols and APIs will be open standards. The ISRG will develop them using a collaborative process, and as much of the software as possible will be open source. The CA it operates will make all records of issuance and revocation available for public inspection, for complete transparency.

Learn more about our involvement with the ISRG and how we collectively plan to support the ubiquitous use of encryption to keep our Internet safe.

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Insights for Remote Mobility

November 21, 2014 at 10:37 am PST

Your mobile strategy needs to consider the user’s point of view and the highly dynamic nature of the mobile threat landscape.  Weighing the threat risk includes evaluating the cost of insecure mobile devices.

User Point of View

The Cisco 2014 Connected World Technology Research tracked the users’ outlooks on the evolving work environment.  Being mobile, off premise with your device was well noted.
•    Most believe a flexible, mobile and remote work model is competitive.
•    Over 25% work from organizations that allow working from home (WFH).
•    Over 50% consider themselves available 24 hours 7 days.
•    Most believe the most connected device for work will be the smartphone in 2020.
The trend for mobile remote work environments cannot be disputed but the mobile device threat vector expands to a broader range of access points. This puts your corporate resources at risk of being corrupted or stolen. Let’s consider the cost of an insecure mobile environment.

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Endpoint Protection and Least Prevalence

Let’s face it, malware is everywhere now, and it’s here to stay. The statistics are staggering. According to the 2014 Cisco Annual Security Report, “100 percent of the business networks analyzed by Cisco had traffic going to websites that host malware” and 96 percent of the business networks analyzed had connections to known hijacked infrastructure or compromised sites. It’s a pretty scary reality for organizations and the security teams that are tasked with protecting these organizations from threats.

Not only is malware abundant and pervasive, but it comes in all shapes and sizes, including trojans, adware, worms, downloaders, droppers, ransomware, and polymorphic malware to name a few. Furthermore, it’s attacking us on all fronts, regardless of the device or operating system that we are using.

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Reversing Multilayer .NET Malware

This post was authored by Dave McDaniel with contributions from Jaeson Schultz

Recently, we came across a malware sample that has been traversing the Internet disguised as an image of a woman. The malware sample uses several layers of obfuscation to hide its payload, including the use of steganography. Steganography is the practice of concealing a message, image, or file within another message, image, or file. Steganography can be used in situations where encryption might bring unwanted attention. Encrypted traffic from an unusual source is going to draw unwanted attention. Steganography allows malicious payloads to hide in plain sight. It also allows the attacker to bypass security devices. In our sample malware, steganography is used to decrypt and execute a second dropper, which in turn installs a user-land rootkit to further hide its intentions. The rootkit adds another layer of obfuscation by installing a DarkComet backdoor, using RC4 encryption to encrypt its configuration settings and send data to its command and control server.

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Working Smarter with Cisco Cloud Web Security

We listen to our customers all the time, and what they have been telling us about cloud security over the past 18 months is intriguing. There was a time when IT security leaders were clearly uncomfortable about the idea of trusting remotely delivered security; discussions about cloud security would be met with skepticism. Over the last year and a half, this attitude has undergone a sea of change, and moved through increasing levels of interest to today, where our customers are actively leaning in and engaging in the discussion about moving security functions to the cloud. There are several reasons for this dramatic shift.

Overall, the enterprise network no longer sits comfortably within four secure walls. Extended networks and new business models related to mobility, cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Everything (IoE) are complicating network management and security for companies of all sizes. IT professionals are being tasked with supporting and protecting this ever-evolving environment with fewer resources. Hampered by tighter budgets and the IT security industry’s growing skills shortage customers need to work smarter, not harder.

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