The modern network security landscape

Businesses must change their mindset on security to help ensure that their networks and vital corporate information are protected from evolving security threats, according to a new Cisco report.

Key findings

Major forces are changing the enterprise security landscape. Social networking, virtualization, cloud computing and a heavy reliance on mobile devices continue to have a dramatic impact on the ability of information technology departments to maintain effective network security. To help manage these converging trends, enterprises should:

  • Enforce granular per-user policies for access to applications and data on virtualized systems.
  • Set strict limits for access to business data.
  • Create a formal corporate policy for mobility.
  • Invest in tools to manage and monitor cloud activities.
  • Provide employees with guidance on the use of social media in the workplace.

Cisco Security Intelligence Operations research found that 7 percent of global sample of users accessing Facebook spend an average of 68 minutes per day playing the popular interactive game “FarmVille.” “Mafia Wars” was the second most popular game, with 5 percent of users each racking up 52 minutes of play daily, while “Café World,” played by 4 percent of users, accounted for 36 minutes of wasted time per day.

Fifty percent of end users admitted that they ignore company policies prohibiting the use of social media tools at least once a week, and 27 percent said they change the settings on corporate devices to access prohibited applications.

Cybercriminals are using technological innovation to their advantage. They exploit the gap between how quickly they can innovate to profit from vulnerabilities and the speed at which enterprises deploy advanced technologies to protect their networks.

While legitimate businesses spend time weighing the decision to embrace social networking and peer-to-peer technologies, cybercriminals are among the early adopters, using them to not only commit crimes but also to enhance their communications and to speed transactions with each other.

Cybercriminals remain intent on targeting legitimate websites but are launching strategically timed, multivector spam attacks with a focus on establishing keyloggers, back doors and bots.

Social networks remain a playground for cybercriminals, with an increasing number of attacks. New threats are now emerging from a more dangerous criminal element: terrorists. Indeed, the US Government is concerned enough that they have awarded grants to examine how social networks and other technologies can be used to organize, coordinate, and incite potential attacks.

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