Cisco highlighted in its 2016 Midyear Cybersecurity Report (MCR) that organisations are unprepared for future strains of more sophisticated ransomware.
According to the report’s findings, the struggle to constrain the operational space of attackers is the biggest challenge facing businesses and threatens the underlying foundation required for digital transformation. Other key findings in the MCR include adversaries expanding their focus to server-side attacks, evolving attack methods and increasing use of encryption to mask activity.
So far in 2016, ransomware has become the most profitable malware type in history. Cisco expects to see this trend continue with even more destructive ransomware that can spread by itself and hold entire networks, and therefore companies, hostage.
The company underscored that new modular strains of ransomware will be able to quickly switch tactics to maximise efficiency. For example, future ransomware attacks will evade detection by being able to limit CPU usage and refrain from command-and-control actions. These new ransomware strains will spread faster and self-replicate within organisations before coordinating ransom activities.
“As organisations capitalise on new business models presented by digital transformation, security is the critical foundation,” said Mike Weston, vice president, Cisco Middle East “Attackers are going undetected and expanding their time to operate. To close the attackers’ windows of opportunity, customers will require more visbility into their networks and must improve activities, like patching and retiring aging infrastructure lacking in advanced security capabilities. As attackers continue to monetise their strikes and create highly profitable business models, Cisco is working with our customers to help them match and exceed their attackers’ level of sophistication, visbility and control.”
Visibility across the network and endpoints remains a primary challenge. On average, organisations take up to 200 days to identify new threats. Cisco’s median time to detection (TTD) continues to outpace the industry, hitting a new low of approximately 13 hours to detect previously unknown compromises for the six months ending in April 2016. This result is down from 17.5 hours for the period ending in October 2015. Faster time to detection of threats is critical to constrain attackers’ operational space and minimise damage from intrusions.
As attackers innovate, many defenders continue to struggle with maintaining the security of their devices and systems. Unsupported and unpatched systems create additional opportunities for attackers to easily gain access, remain undetected, and maximise damage and profits. The Cisco 2016 Midyear Cybersecurity Report shows that this challenge persists on a global scale. While organisations in critical industries such as healthcare have experienced a significant uptick in attacks over the past several months, the report’s findings indicate that all vertical markets and global regions are being targeted.