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2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report

Cisco today released it's 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report providing a freshly updated view into the current techniques that adversaries use to elude defenses and evade detection, along with insights and recommendations designed to help organizations and users defend against attacks.

The report is based upon a study conducted by Cisco of 3600 Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and security industry leaders from 26 countries.

This year’s report findings show a maturing, more sophisticated tradecraft by attackers. Case in point: adversaries are increasingly embracing encryption – meant to enhance security – to conceal command-and-control activity. The Cisco Talos threat research team reports that 50 percent of global web traffic was encrypted as of October 2017, a 12 percent volume increase from November 2016. Cisco also observed a more than threefold increase in encrypted network communication used by inspected malware samples during that time. As the volume of encrypted global web traffic grows, adversaries are broadening their use of encryption as a way to mask command-and-control activity, providing them more time to operate and inflict damage sight-unseen.

The evolution of ransomware was another of the most significant threat developments in 2017. By introducing network-based ransomware worms, attackers have eliminated the need for human interaction in launching ransomware campaigns. They also changed the game from pursuing ransom to the outright destruction of systems, data and operations. We all saw these rapid-moving, network-based attacks with WannaCry and Nyetya, and Cisco expects more automated crypto-worm activity in the year ahead.

The report report spotlights how adversaries are evolving their approaches to exploit new technology security gaps, particularly in IoT devices which are often exposed because they were deployed improperly or left open intentionally for convenience. This includes the growing number of medical devices in hospitals and other healthcare delivery sites, which are often not patched or maintained once purchased.

See the full report for additional perspectives and what defenders can do to to set the security bar higher.