Cisco: Midyear Security Report 2015

As adversaries rapidly refine their ability to develop and deploy malware that can breach network defenses and evade detection, the security industry, as a whole, struggles to innovate at a similar pace.

This dynamic creates a significant problem for organizations investing in security products and services: They often end up choosing individual solutions to address security gaps, only to create more weak points in their threat defenses.

The Cisco 2015 Midyear Security Report examines these intersecting challenges while also providing updates on some of the most compelling threats. Using research by our experts, it provides an overview of the major threats observed in the first half of 2015.

This report also explores likely future trends and offers advice for small, midsize, and enterprise organizations that seek security solutions and services.

The report is divided into two main areas:

Threat Intelligence
This section gives an overview of the latest threat research from Cisco. We discuss:
●● Updates on exploit kits such as Angler
●● Criminals’ increasing use of macros involving Microsoft Office
●● New tactics from malware authors to evade detection
●● Risk of malware encounters for specific industry verticals
●● Time to detection of threats
●● Updates on spam, threat alerts, Java exploits, and malvertising

Analysis and Observations
In this section we cover security industry consolidation and the emerging concept of integrated threat defense. Other topics in focus include the importance of building trust and security into products and the value of engaging security services organizations in a market where skilled security talent is scarce. Lastly, we discuss how a cohesive cybergovernance framework can be a step toward sustaining business innovation and economic growth on the global stage.

Major Discoveries
Adversaries continue to innovate as they slip into networks undetected and evade security measures.

●● Exploits of Adobe Flash vulnerabilities are increasing. They are regularly integrated into widely used exploit kits such as Angler and Nuclear.
●● Angler continues to lead the exploit kit market in terms of overall sophistication and effectiveness.
●● Operators of crimeware, like ransomware, are hiring and funding professional development teams to help them make sure their tactics remain profitable.
●● Criminals are turning to the anonymous web network Tor and the Invisible Internet Project (I2P) to relay command-and-control communications while evading detection.
●● Adversaries are once again using Microsoft Office macros to deliver malware. It’s an old tactic that fell out of favor, but it’s being taken up again as malicious actors seek new ways to thwart security protections.
●● Some exploit kit authors are incorporating text from Jane Austen’s classic novel Sense and Sensibility into web landing pages that host their exploit kits. Antivirus and other security solutions are more likely to categorize these pages as legitimate after “reading” such text.
●● Malware authors are increasing their use of techniques such as sandbox detection to conceal their presence on networks.
●● Spam volume is increasing in the United States, China, and the Russian Federation, but remained relatively stable in other regions in the first five months of 2015.
●● The security industry is paying more attention to mitigating vulnerabilities in open-source solutions.
●● Continuing a trend covered in the Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report, exploits involving Java have been on the decline in the first half of 2015.

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