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Insights for Remote Mobility

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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Minimize Threats from Non-Corporate Mobile Apps

Our customers are continuing to feel the pain of having to increasingly support off-premise mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The critical need to rapidly onboard these devices to connect to corporate services and applications pretty clearly provides business with a  competitive advantage (Cisco Enterprise Mobility Landscape Wave II Study – April 2014) in improving workforce efficiency.

Consider the sales person who needs to check a customer order from his corporate- sanctioned tablet in the customer’s lobby.  Look at the contractor with their personal smartphone who needs to access project emails from home.

What is the big problem? The rush to provide access to these off-premise devices means we have reduced or even discarded needed security controls when it comes to remote connectivity for mobile devices. Offering access from any device, any location, anytime, opens the door to potential security threats.  The mobile endpoint is a threat vector with 68% of organizations saying their mobile devices were targeted by malware in the last 12 months (Ponemon Research.)

What if I secure these devices using VPN technology in the same way as laptops? While, ”Turning On” VPN on any endpoint means that all traffic and applications (personal and enterprise) are all transmitted over the same VPN channel to access corporate networks.  This co-mingling of corporate and user apps allows the possibility of un-compromised user applications polluting corporate infrastructure and increases the risk of threats to the network.

So now what? I don’t want to enable VPN every single time I try to look up a document or use salesforce.com or access email. That increases the complexity for the user and gives them a reason to either find a way around the process or nullifies the efficiency business want to promote with their mobile workforce.

The answer lies with the introduction of Cisco AnyConnect 4.0 offering  customers the ability to deliver per-application secure access for only approved corporate applications in way that is seamless to the user.  By just clicking on the registered corporate application I want to use, I can automagically create a secure connection for JUST that application each time. This means I don’t mix access to corporate resources between authorized applications and potentially infected user applications. It even reduces bandwidth and IT resource usage since user applications do not get tunneled back to corporate and has to go through user networks (mobile or WiFi).

PerAPP

Enterprises want to empower their mobile users to work from anywhere while IT wants a simple way to control and secure enterprise access consistently across any device whether on or off-premise.   AnyConnect continues to evolve to provide integrated and flexible security and access control for any remote and/or mobile endpoints.

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To learn more how to better secure your remote endpoints, check out Cisco AnyConnect

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