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Key Takeaways from Cisco’s Cybersecurity Annual Report
by Daniel Newman | June 2, 2017

In January, Cisco published its 2017 Annual Cybersecurity Report, which gave a rundown of the challenges that face Chief Security Officers (CSOs) in today’s digital work environment. As part of the report, some 3,000 CSOs and security operations leaders from around the world shared their insights on what is plaguing their company. Headaches ranged from new emerging threats to chronic “old school” issues. The following are just a few of the overarching themes from the study.

Mobile is Making Us Nervous

As more companies embrace BYOD, and the Internet of Things (IoT) creates even more connected machines in our work environments, security professionals are faced with a seemingly endless amount of “endpoints” that need to be protected. The report named mobile devices, cloud, and users themselves as top security concerns. According to the study, the “attack surface” open to hackers is continuing to expand. Relying on users to follow security protocols will become both increasingly important and increasingly challenging as they continue to bring in more personal devices into the enterprise network environment.

Our Security is Highly Fragmented

In what may be a sign of the times, the report showed that a majority of businesses are using five or more separate security vendors—and more than five security products—in their work environments. This “patchwork” approach is the product of a digital environment that is growing faster than most companies can manage. It’s also a dangerous threat, as the patchwork solutions are far from seamless and leave holes that leave the companies vulnerable to cyber threats.

When Breaches Occur, We All Lose

Data breaches don’t just cause headaches for the IT team. They create losses—sometimes debilitating ones—for the entire enterprise. Of those surveyed in the report, 1 in 5 said they had lost customers due to a cyberattack, and 1 in 3 said they had lost revenue. In short, hacks cause customers to lose confidence in our businesses—a price most companies can’t afford.

Automation is Needed

In today’s environment, there are simply too many risks to handle manually. According to the report, organizations can investigate just 56 percent of the security threats they receive on a single day. That means nearly half of threats are left untouched—exposing the enterprise to a huge potential risk. What’s more, more than half of threats take more than 8 hours to detect. This is a sign that CSOs need to take advantage of new automation technology that can make sorting and managing security threats faster and easier, to keep their companies safe. After all, the hackers have automated their processes. It’s about time security teams automate theirs, as well, taking advantage of predictive analytics with deep learning and machine learning to proactively manage and prevent threats before they even happen.

Spam Is Breeding Like Rabbits

The issue of automation brings up another critical threat: spam. It seems like no one is immune to spam nowadays, and it’s no wonder. The Cisco report shows that spam accounts for 65 percent of total email volume, and it’s growing. Thanks to the help of automated spam bots, spam is breeding like rabbits, making it incredibly difficult for security officers to keep up with the potential threats.

Siloes Still Exist

Although we talk consistently about the importance of breaking down siloes to succeed in the digital marketplace, it seems silos still exist—and may even be worsening. In the event of a breach, the study showed that marketing teams were alerted just 22 percent of the time (compared to 31 percent in 2014); public relations teams were alerted just 23 percent of the time (compared to 28 percent in 2014); and even tech partners were notified just 36 percent of the time (compared to 45 percent in 2014). The fact remains, all teammates need to be notified in the event of a data breach, and communications teams like public relations and marketing need to be briefed on potential ramifications to customers and employees alike.

Though the cyber threats to our businesses continue to grow, I remain hopeful that today’s security technology is advancing in a similar direction. The options now available for companies to fortify, streamline, and automate their daily security processes are growing daily, and as more businesses become immersed in the digital landscape, I’m confident their awareness and ability to manage security issues will both improve.

Additional Resources on This Topic:
Improving Cybersecurity Protections with Predictive Analytics
Protecting the Cloud with Virtualization Security
Blockchain: 2017’s Superstar on the Rise

Photo Credit: igsmartlondon Flickr via Compfight cc

Daniel Newman
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