One of the major duties of this blog is to keep you up to date on the latest security and cybersecurity challenges and issues facing you in your IT job role. An article from Forbes earlier this month gives me an opportunity to hand you the wisdom of eight major players in one big gulp.
Titled “Top 2016 Cybersecurity Reports Out from AT&T, Cisco, Dell, Google, IBM, McAfee, Symantec, and Verizon,” the Forbes article collects the most recent annual security reports of all eight in one spot for you. Each report “brings its unique view on cybercrime and cyber defense strategies,” states Forbes, and so they make for meaningful reading in aggregate.
Here’s a brief taste of each report:
AT&T’s “Cybersecurity Insights” report is actually its very first one. Given that AT&T has seen a 62 percent increase in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks within its own operations during the past two years, its addition to this collection of eight is highly motivated.
AT&T calls particular attention to Internet of Things (IoT) connections, where the AT&T Security Operations Center has witnessed a 458 percent increase during the same period in vulnerability scans against devices (adversaries looking for weaknesses in network defenses).
AT&T takes a look at the activities of the following:
- Industrial cyberspies (corporate espionage)
- Nation states
- Organized cybercriminals: Says the report, “The Mafia has gone digital, and other groups have joined them.”
- Hacktivists (groups of hackers using attacks to promote social change or impact public policy)
- Malicious insiders
The AT&T report offers best practices for coping with both outsider and insider threats.
For Cisco’s contribution to the 2016 conversation on security, take a look at my blog post from earlier this year, “Defenders and Attackers Increasingly Sophisticated, Says Cisco Annual Security Report.” It paints a picture of how organizations and attackers are each upping their game on the security front.
It is a report with plenty of cause for concern but also some hope, given that, during the past year, Cisco has seriously reduced its time to detect attacks.
The 2016 Dell Security Annual Threat Report has a lot to say about malware:
- A significant increase in the number of malware attacks
- How a continued surge in Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption is giving cybercriminals better opportunities to conceal malware from firewalls
- The continuing rise in Android malware
The Dell report also delves into how cybercriminals have evolved exploit kits with “greater speed, heightened stealth, and novel shapeshifting abilities” to outwit security systems.
Google’s “Android Security 2015 Year in Review” is its second such report focused on “driving informed conversation about Android security.” Much of the emphasis by Google this past year has been on combatting malware and protecting Android users from potentially harmful apps (PHAs). Various enhancements last year reduced by 40 percent the probability of installing a PHA from Google Play.
The Google report also discusses Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which has introduced diverse security protections and controls on the Android platform. Google’s Vulnerability Rewards Program, which pays security researchers to find and report bugs to the company, is also interesting to read about.
IBM’s annual X-Force Research Cyber Security Intelligence Index reveals the disturbing fact that 60 percent of all attacks suffered by IBM customers were perpetrated by “insiders.” The healthcare industry was the most frequently attacked, shooting past financial services and manufacturing. “Packed with a wealth of exploitable information, electronic health records fetch a high price on the black market,” states IBM.
The IBM report offers four key steps for “outthinking threats”:
- Prioritize business objectives and set risk tolerance
- Protect your organization with a proactive security plan
- Prepare your response to the inevitable sophisticated attack
- Promote a work culture of security awareness
McAfee’s report, “2016 Threats Predictions,” is based on interviews with 21 key individuals from Intel and McAfee security teams. In addition to their insights on the cyberthreat landscape, the McAfee report offers the following predictions:
- “Integrity attacks,” that is, stealthy, selective attacks focused on carefully changing specific elements of transactions, communications, or data, will be on the rise in 2016.
- Better security in the enterprise will divert the attention of attackers to employees working from the home.
- Wearables, integrated with smartphones, will increase in popularity as an attack vector.
- The sharing of threat intelligence will improve within the private sector, and between private sector and governments.
The 2016 Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec sobers us with the data point that spear-phishing campaigns targeting employees increased 55 percent last year. Symantec’s meaty investigation devotes ample attention to mobile devices and IoT, web threats, social media and email, targeted attacks, data breaches and privacy, and cloud and infrastructure.
Symantec provides 16 best practice guidelines for businesses, 7 best practice guidelines for consumers, and a list of 20 “critical security controls.” The list of 20 security controls is based on the efforts of a consortium of U.S. and international agencies and experts, sharing the latest intelligence and evaluating it against the ever-changing threat landscape.
During Cybersecurity Month last year, I covered Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report. Verizon is back with its 2016 report. This newest version continues to make the point that cybercriminals “play off of human nature” by exploiting financial motivations, carelessness with passwords, and laziness with patching known vulnerabilities, as well as taking advantage of the nine typical patterns that 95 percent of all breaches and 86 percent of all security incidents fall into.
One unsettling finding in the Verizon content is that ransomware attacks have increased by 16 percent over last year. The Verizon report also explains the “three-pronged attack,” which involves a successful phishing attempt, downloading of malware, and the use of credentials for further attacks.
In wrapping up its coverage of these eight security players, Forbes reinforces a crucial point about what is the huge underlying problem with the woes that we all face: not enough trained security and cybersecurity experts! After you take a look at the Forbes article and download its eight meaningful reports, give some further thought about getting trained and certified in security or cybersecurity. The time seems more than ripe to add them to your skill set.
Gary Pfitzer is a content manager at Learning@Cisco, focused on bringing various aspects of today's IT journey to light through business papers, blogging, customer success stories, and other writing.