Cisco adds up the score

Networking major releases its annual report that traces some of the dominant security trends of 2008 and sets forth the threats facing enterprises in the new year.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  January 25, 2009

Networking major releases its annual report that traces some of the dominant security trends of 2008 and sets forth the threats facing enterprises in the new year.

It is the time of the year that security companies bring out their reports tracing the criminal proceedings of the last 12 months. Cisco is just one of them having recently launched its 2008 edition of the Cisco Annual Security Report.

"Every year we see threats evolve as criminals discover new ways to exploit people, networks and the internet. This year's trends underscore how important it is to look at all basic elements of security policies and technologies," said Patrick Peterson, Cisco fellow and chief security researcher.

Organisations can lower their risk of data loss by fine-tuning access controls and patching known vulnerabilities to eliminate the ability of criminals to exploit holes in the infrastructure.

"Organisations can lower their risk of data loss by fine-tuning access controls and patching known vulnerabilities to eliminate the ability of criminals to exploit holes in the infrastructure. It is important to upgrade applications, endpoint systems and networking equipment to help ensure that corporate systems run smoothly and to minimise risk."

According to the report, which traces the world's top security threats and offers recommendations for protecting networks, the overall number of disclosed vulnerabilities grew by 11.5% over 2007, and the researchers saw a 90% growth in threats originating from legitimate domains.

The report continues that vulnerabilities in virtualisation technology nearly tripled from 35 to 103 year over year and stated that attacks were becoming increasingly blended, cross-vector and targeted.

The only silver lining in the report was that the volume of malware successfully propagated via e-mail attachments declined over 2007.

Reporting on specific threats across the web, Cisco's report notes that spam accounts for nearly 200 billion messages each day, approximately 90% of worldwide e-mail. The United States is the biggest source at 17.2%.

Other countries who contribute spam include Turkey (9.2%), Russia (8%), Canada (4.7%), Brazil (4.1%), India (3.5%), Poland (3.4%), South Korea (3.3%), Germany and the United Kingdom (2.9% each).

The use of social engineering to entice victims to open a file or click links continues to grow. Cisco expects that in 2009, social engineering techniques will increase in number, vectors and sophistication.

Findings for the report came in part from Cisco Security Intelligence Operations, an aggregation of tightly integrated data and security services derived from multiple Cisco divisions and devices to continuously assess and correlate internet threats and vulnerabilities.

In 2009, researchers from these Cisco security teams will continue to watch several security threats, including negligent or disgruntled employees threatening corporate security, data loss through carelessness, breaches by hackers, or from insiders leading to grave financial consequences, and the trend toward remote working and the related use of web-based tools, mobile devices, virtualisation, cloud computing and similar technologies to enhance enterprise productivity.

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