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Cisco 2014 Midyear Security Report: Brush Your Teeth, Change Your Passwords, Update Your Software

Listening to the radio on the way to work recently, I heard that hackers had stolen some 1.2 billion usernames and passwords, affecting as many as 420,000 websites. When asked what listeners could do to protect themselves, the security expert speaking recommended changing passwords.

He did not mention which ones. Indeed, the names of the compromised sites have not even been publicly named for fear of making the problem worse, so there is no way of knowing how to prioritize which passwords to change. Adding to my irritation, I had just changed several passwords in the wake of the Heartbleed/OpenSSL compromise a few months ago. Perhaps like you, I have more than 100 passwords. Changing them all is not really an option. Read More »

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NSS Labs Report on Cyber Resilience Highlights the Need for a New Approach to Security

A few years ago, a point-product security vendor proudly declared their technology was the silver bullet that stopped ALL security threats from penetrating the corporate network. Many of us in the industry raised our collective eyebrows in surprise at such a bold claim.

While the naive or inexperienced might have believed such an outrageous claim, we all knew there is no such thing as a silver bullet in security and that no matter how cutting edge or sophisticated your security is, attacks will get through and it is onlya matter of time before any organisation is compromised. Read More »

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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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