Cisco has released its latest 2Q11 Global Threat Report today revealing some interesting statistics on the current threat landscape. The rate of unique instances of malware more than doubled in the second quarter. Average encounter rates per enterprise peaked in March and April.
Data breaches dominated security news during the first half of 2011 and companies across all industry sectors were equally impacted. Many of these breaches resulted from advanced persistent threats; others resulted from SQL injection and other brute force intrusions. In all cases, customer data and corporate intellectual property were at risk.
As well as the rising levels of malware, businesses are also now facing another challenge – targeted attacks. Cisco released a security report in June this year showing that cybercriminals have made a fundamental shift in strategy, abandoning traditional mass spam attacks in favor of personalized attacks with a great financial impact on targeted organizations. The report revealed that the overall cost of targeted attacks to organizations worldwide is $1.29 billion annually.
Like almost all types of cybercrime exploits, the success of targeted attacks relies on technical holes and the all-too-human tendency to misplace trust. Targeted attacks are the most elusive threat to protect against and have the potential to deliver the most potent negative impact. Very low in volume, they focus on a specific individual or group under a cover of anonymity provided by specialized botnet distribution channels. Typically, they rely on malware or APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats) to harvest desired data over a period of time.
In the Cisco 2Q11 Global Threat Report, Cisco CSIRT Manager Gavin Reid discusses the unique challenges of APTs and network intrusions. Gavin offers real world practical advice from a frontline perspective, offering valuable pointers for tweaking and using the tools you probably already have in place.
Early discovery of network intrusions and APTs is key to protecting your corporate assets.
Download a copy of the Cisco 2Q11 Global Threat Report.
From comic books of the 20’s through to films and television series of the 80’s, the ability to communicate by video has always been in our ‘vision of the future’. Despite video communications being around for years, we still haven’t quite realised the vision of video being ‘pervasive’ throughout out lives, but I believe that’s about to change.
Why is video so important? Ultimately, we are designed to communicate using all the facets of our bodies. Our brains are hard wired to pick up on subtleties like body language, posture and expression. While text-based and voice only communication tools have made it more convenient for us to communicate (and we certainly would not be without them), they do have many limitations. A lot can be lost in translation when you can’t see the person your communicating with and it can result in confusion, not to mention the importance of visual cues when developing relationships with people and garnering trust.
Granted, until recently, the experience with video communications has been pretty poor, but telepresence has changed that. Its simple to use, delivers a high-definition crystal clear picture with no perceivable latency and is based on standards, which means that more people can connect across different systems than ever before. With advances in video communication technologies, such as telepresence systems, it’s down to businesses to decide whether it’s prudent to spend money and resources on travel to and from face-to-face meetings or whether they should consider using video to get the job done more efficiently. With volatility in the price of oil, a need to boost productivity and aggressive environmental goals, it’s a decision that should not be taken lightly.
The simple fact remains that we communicate more effectively when we can see each other. We are more engaged, focused and accountable when we can be seen as well as heard. Video is a lot better than a faceless conference call where the majority of people on the call are surfing the web rather than focusing on the topic being discussed. It’s more effective than an email exchange where people are simply deferring an inevitable decision or trying to shirk responsibility. I’m not arguing that text-based communication has no role to play in business, it clearly does, but I believe that it will co-exist alongside video, which will become the default way of communicating that will save us time, money and make us more productive.
Gaming giant Nintendo has been showing off its next-generation Wii game console in LA and while it looks very futuristic and quite cool, what struck me was its similarity to a Table PC.
But it’s not just the look of the thing and its 6.2 inch touch screen which made me immediately think of the HTC Flyer or the Motorola Zoom, but it’s also the fact the Wii U will apparently come compete with the ability to broadcast high-definition video and can be used to make video calls and browse the web.
Isn’t that a Tablet PC then?
We have for a long time talked about the convergence between PC and smartphones but now it looks like there will be a further blurring between mobile games consols; tablet PCs and Smartphones.
Of course with proliferation of yet more devices comes yet more challenges with lack of IP addresses as shown by World IPv6 day this week, but there is also the challenges of getting these devices to interconnect and work together.
I was fascinated to read an article on the BBC website about the Internet of Things, describing how Hotel 1000 in Seattle uses their Cisco network to control and manage a wide range of systems in the hotel.
One system controls the heating, ventilation and air conditioning, so that they can schedule the temperature in the hotel’s meeting spaces using the internet, and don’t waste energy on empty rooms. Another is a simple but useful system which when a guest clicks a ”Do not Disturb” button or “Make-up the Room” button a message is sent to housekeeping. Even the minibars at the hotel are all wired up so guest’s bills can be automatically updated.
The story highlight numerous other example of seemingly simple technologies and solutions which use the Internet to make people’s lives easier and more connected.
It is small wonder then that global Internet traffic is predicted to quadruple by 2015.
This past weekend I had the delight of camping in the rain for a typical British Bank Holiday weekend and as I sat there waiting for the sun to come out, I decided to fire up my newly acquire iPad and have a surf of the web.
Amazingly, there was a full strength 3G connection via my service provider, plus our camping buddies had brought along a mobile wi-fi dongle, and low and behold the campsite had its own high-speed wireless wi-fi….. Three wireless connection options.
The funny thing is – I might have been in rural Dorset, but I wasn’t that surprised to have such connectivity as this is exactly what we expect everyday in our lives. More and more of what we do is on the internet and as consumer cloud services get adopted this trend can only grow.
Of course the other driving force for connectivity is the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets. According to research from Cisco there will be 15 billion tablets, PCs, smartphones and other machines with web connectivity in 2015 – double the projected number of people on the planet by then.
So no matter where you are – whether it is rural UK; urban environments or even in planes and trains – we will all expect connectivity and access to the internet and cloud services….. and what’s more we’ll get it.
According to online retailer Amazon.com, since April 1, it has sold 105 e-books for every 100 printed book, excluding free books.
To me that’s an amazing fact and is a sure sign that the iPad and Kindle generation is beginning to take over book publishing in the same ways that the iPod generation has overtaken the CD and vinyl record market. Not only books, but also newspapers are also seeing their electronic versions increase in circulation and now with the widespread adoption of cloud services by business and even consumers, it means we are getting more and more used to the concept of not actually holding our product anymore.
It seems we are very happy to receive an electronic, rather than physical, version of what we need and want.
Of course it is the network and the internet which has made this revolution possible. Without reliable and high bandwidth broadband, none of this would be possible. Of course the next revolution will be the widespread adoption of high bandwidth and stable mobile services so it will become the norm that you download the latest bestseller from the online retailer as you head into town for that lunchtime meeting.
But for an old Luddite like me – nothing will replace the excitement of hours spent searching my local bookstore or better still, the second-hand bookshop. Somehow, clicking to download still does not quite have that thrill…..
Retro-fitting existing towns and cities with smart ICT resources like high-speed fixed and mobile broadband, and collaborative services like telepresence, is one of European planner’s major challenges according to a report from Ovum commissioned by Cisco and release this week.
It finds that new tools created by the ICT industry have great potential for urban governments to meet a number of metropolitan challenges, however the tools themselves are not a ‘silver bullet’ the will solve urban problems in one stroke. Deploying these technologies to crowded and often old European streets requires new discipline from urban planners the report suggests.
The report reveals some leading innovative cities that are already addressing the unique challenges which European city leaders face in enabling smart and connected solutions to achieve broad and challenging economic, environmental and social goals. However, there is still a gap to be closed, to develop new business models and stakeholder governance frameworks, to enable scaled adoption, and integrated urban systems, to reveal enhanced socio-economic utility.
The study was conducted earlier this year by interviewed city administrators in France, Spain and Denmark, along with academics and business leaders from the UK, and Holland.
Have you ever wondered what a Data Centre (or Data Center) really does? They are everywhere in our lives and yet few of us really understand what they do and why they are important. Yet unless you know what a Data Centre is, you can’t hope to understand how virtualisation or the much hyped Cloud works.
So this video aims to explain, as simply as possible, what a Data Centre does and why it is important.
This is an excellent video about an incredible project. It’s Eric Whitacre, a composer and conductor, talking about his new project following the success of his Lux Aurumque Virtual Choir last year (http://tinyurl.com/yd8owys). From my perspective, this project demonstrates the power of the connected world and is an excellent example of how the Internet, and particularly video, can bring people together, wherever they may be in the world, to achieve incredible things.
According to the TED site, the full piece premiere of Eric’s new work will be today - April 7 on YouTube! I’ll be watching. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/eric_whitacre_a_virtual_choir_2_000_voices_strong.html
As more and more employees choose to embrace the growing trend towards remote working, the consumption of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets continues to soar. There is an exploding trend of users bringing in their own networked devices to the workplace – gone are the days when we just issue everyone a company blackberry that is fully managed and controlled by corporate. This brings with it brand new security threats for IT and network administrators.
The new technologies entering the enterprise are redefining the workplace experience. Work used to be a place we would go to; now it is becoming a thing we do. Anytime, anywhere, on any device. Networks and the organisations they serve are changing. What once was a simple, binary situation where you were either in the office, at your desk, and on the network or you were not, has changed into a profusion of shades of grey.
Instead of challenging this IT consumerisation trend, organisations need to find a way to consistently enforce security without affecting productivity, collaboration and motivation. How can we reach that balance? Especially when the global security threat landscape is becoming more and more volatile.
According to a new whitepaper written by IDC, (“Balancing Risk and Productivity – How to Secure Chaotic Mobile Proliferation), by 2014, IDC expects more than 28% of all mobile devices shipped worldwide to be converged mobile devices with Internet access. Not only that, but our previous research (Cisco Connected Technology World Report) revealed that two of every three employees surveyed (66%) expect IT to allow them to use any device – personal or company issued – to access corporate networks, applications, and information anywhere at any time, and they expect the types of devices to continue diversifying.
So, the increasing use of mobile devices and the shift towards remote working doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. The business drivers for this growing trend are sufficient and it certainly won’t slow down for security considerations. Businesses need to find a way to embrace this concept and the associated benefits that come with it.