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A Weekly Dose of Cyber Security Awareness

In any given week, one doesn’t need to look very far to be reminded of the events and issues that can surface anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. Given their modes of occurrence, range of diverse levels, technical, non-technical, and globally, wouldn’t it be convenient to have a brief synopsis and analysis of the events and issues? A weekly publication from Cisco, the Cyber Risk Report, is available now to give you the awareness and insight related to these security events and issues. The Cyber Risk Report provides a lot of information that conveys thought-provoking analyses and perspective.

Why the Cyber Risk Report Matters

There are several benefits of this publication. The report provides current information on multiple topics saving you time from sifting through all of the media outlets. It can minimize your blind spots and broaden your understanding of the nature of the factors contributing to the weekly events being reported. It is not uncommon for these issues and events to surface simply because the victims have not seen them coming. The bad guys are betting on this. Is this the only source of knowledge needed? Of course not, but the Cyber Risk Report is certainly a great resource to gain insight and keep a pulse on the constantly evolving security landscape.

What the Cyber Risk Report Offers

The Cyber Risk Report contains a summary and analyses of events and issues that transpired in the week leading up to its publication. Every week a specialized team of Cisco security analysts meets to create its content based on a review of several information sources. This content is organized into categories that I have highlighted in red as shown in the snapshot below.

CRR_Sample

Figure 1: Cyber Risk Report Example

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I Can’t Keep Up with All These Cisco Security Advisories: Do I Have to Upgrade?

April 2, 2013 at 6:00 am PST

“A security advisory was just published! Should I hurry and upgrade all my Cisco devices now?”

This is a question that I am being asked by customers on a regular basis. In fact, I am also asked why there are so many security vulnerability advisories. To start with the second question: Cisco is committed to protecting customers by sharing critical security-related information in a very transparent way. Even if security vulnerabilities are found internally, the Cisco Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) – which is my team – investigates, drives to resolution, and discloses such vulnerabilities. To quickly answer the first question, don’t panic, as you may not have to immediately upgrade your device. However, in this article I will discuss some of the guidelines and best practices for responding to Cisco security vulnerability reports.

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Top of Mind: Problems with SSL, solved with DNSSEC?

Lately we have seen various attacks against the various SSL/TLS usages that we have in the world. The attacks have not been technical per se, but instead use weaknesses in the procedures that are used to get a certificate. Lets first look at how trust is built up using SSL.

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Top of Mind: Cybercrime–This Time It’s Personal

The axiom “Quality, not quantity” has been adopted by everyone from stock pickers to those trying to successfully navigate the online dating scene. Now cybercriminals are also putting this philosophy to practice.

The fundamental shift away from mass spam attacks to more targeted threats with potentially bigger payoffs is top of mind to me. This trend is detailed in a new report by Cisco’s Security Intelligence Operation (SIO).

Specifically on the issue of spam, Cisco’s research reveals that mass spam volumes dropped from 300 billion daily spam messages to 40 billion between June 2010 and June 2011. Although 40 billion is still a huge number, signifying that spam is still an issue, the trend that’s most alarming is the threefold increase in spearphishing and the fourfold increase in personalized scams and malicious attacks such as malware.

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Top of Mind: Best Practices and Security Updates

With the Black Hat and DEF CON security conferences last week in Las Vegas, two topics are top of mind for me and those in my organization: best practices for securing the network and the importance of applying software security updates. An event like Black Hat or DEF CON certainly raises awareness, but what’s really important is to take that awareness and embed it into daily management of the network. For the most part, those practices are followed on end points and applications. Unfortunately, our data indicates that patching in the infrastructure is much less consistent. This is usually based on complexity and the demands of uptime placed on the network. Events like Black Hat give my teams an opportunity to deliver training on implementing network-based mitigations and defenses. In many cases, participants in these events are simply unaware of what is available in newer versions of our products.

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