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Web smut sites are SAFER than search engines, declares Cisco

Network giant: Perimeters are porous, get used to it

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Cisco proclaimed that it is more dangerous to click on a web ad than a porn site these days as it unveiled the latest version of its security threat report.

The vendor also expanded its security offering, pulling in mobile management support for its ISE platform and announcing it had hoovered up Czech-based real-time security intelligence firm Cognitive Security.

Chris Young, senior veep for Cisco's Security and Government Group, said the nature of IT security threats were changing in the same way as the industry as a whole, meaning "the cloud" and "mobility" are trends for the cybercrime community too. This means that security managers should worry less about securing the perimeter and consider the "any-to-any" problem (any user, on any device, on any connection).

Cyber criminals and other miscreants were hitting their targets where they were most likely to gather, he said, and were increasingly launching "combinational" attacks.

This throws up some, arguably counterintuitive, conclusions. Malicious content is 27 times more likely to be encountered via search engines than counterfeit software, the vendor's 2012 Annual Security Report claims.

On the upside, perhaps, online adverts were 182 times more likely to deliver malware than a porno site, the survey said.

"We've been led to believe you have to go to an unsavoury place [to encounter malware]," he said. "That's not the case."

The report also said that mobile malware accounted for barely a half a per cent of malware encounters, though it also showed a whopping 2,577 per cent jump on Android-based malware last year.

The report also noted a spike in malware encounters in the Nordics, something which was ascribed to fans of Julian Assange hitting sites in Sweden to show their displeasure at extradition proceedings against the WikiLeaker-in-chief.

Young said that with the change in computing models, including the shift to the cloud, old attacks had become "new" again. For example, a DDoS attack becomes a bigger threat to a company when it relies on the cloud for its enterprise applications or data.

Unsurprisingly, Cisco has answers to these threats, or at least for those whose preferred solution is not to spend all their web time browsing for porn.

While continuing to focus on access control, companies should "expect the perimeter is porous," he said.

With threats lingering and propagating within organisations, this means discovery and remediation - cleansing devices - was more important. "This is a cycle," he declared. Young said that scalability is also becoming increasingly important for security tools.

The vendor has just announced an upgrade to its Identity Services Engine, 1.2, which sees it partnering with device management partners, including SAP, Citrix and Good.

The firm has also bolstered the intelligence part of its proposition with the acquisition of Prague-based firm Cognitive Security. The 30-strong company offers a machine learning service that analyses security threats.

Cisco plans to integrate Cognitive's tech into its own cloud-based security offering by the end of the calendar year, and will retire its standalone product. While the Czech firm's customer base is pretty minuscule, Cisco VP of engineering Mike Furhman promised no one would be left high and dry. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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