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Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report: Security Services and Risk Management

More organizations are starting to view cybersecurity as a strategic risk. They have to—it’s becoming unavoidable. Technology and the business are so intertwined. Regulators are issuing more compliance measures that include information security directives. And all the while, adversaries are relentless in their campaigns to compromise defenses to steal information, money, or otherwise create disruption.

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Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report: Focusing on Common Vulnerabilities is Smart Security Strategy

August 14, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

Enterprise security professionals have their hands full these days—monitoring networks for security breaches, managing the implications of “bring your own device” policies, and patching systems to combat “weak links,” or vulnerabilities that could allow online criminals to grant entry.

Regarding this last task, security practitioners may be able to take an approach to addressing vulnerabilities that allows them to more effectively allocate resources toward resolving these challenges. As detailed in the Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report, urgent critical vulnerabilities—those that merit the time and attention of security executives—make up a very small number of reported vulnerabilities. While all reported vulnerabilities should be patched, it’s wise to focus on those that pose the most danger.

Cisco publishes thousands of multivendor alerts every year, and zero-day vulnerabilities (for which patches are not yet available) tend to win the lion’s share of attention from security practitioners and the media because of their perceived urgency. However, only about two percent of the thousands of reported vulnerabilities were being activity exploited soon after published reports.

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Putting a Damper on ‘Lateral Movement’ due to Cyber-Intrusion

Analysis of high-profile cyber breaches often reveals how intruders gain their initial footprint in the targeted organizations and bypass perimeter defenses to establish a backdoor for persistent activities. Such stealthy activities may continue until intruders complete their ultimate mission—claiming the “crown jewels” of the victim organization.

“Lateral movement” is a term increasingly used to describe penetration activities by intruders (more information on lateral movement is available in Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report[1]). These activities begin with network reconnaissance, typically leading to compromises, hijacking of user accounts and ultimately privilege escalation to access sensitive data. Organizations may go to great lengths to detecting and stopping the initial breach and final data exfiltration as well as establishing more intelligence at their ingress/egress perimeters. But how can you minimize the damage caused by an intruder’s lateral movement once your network is already compromised?

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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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