Network giant Cisco is warning beleaguered executives that network security remains under constant threat with new ones ever emerging and some solutions perhaps opening a doorway to network penetration. Is there a solution? Perhaps it’s Artificial Intelligence.

In a new cybersecurity report, Cisco reports:

“Malware is becoming more vicious. And it’s harder to combat. We now face everything from network-based ransomware worms to devastating wiper malware. At the same time, adversaries are getting more adept at creating malware that can evade traditional sandboxing.”

Meanwhile, encryption of data isn’t a cure-all, Cisco adds.

“50 percent of global web traffic was encrypted as of October 2017. Encryption is meant to enhance security. But it also provides malicious actors with a powerful tool to conceal command-and-control activity. Those actors then have more time to inflict damage,” Cisco concludes.

As for whether AI can help, Cisco sees possibilities.

“Encryption also reduces visibility. More enterprises are therefore turning to machine learning and artificial intelligence. With these capabilities, they can spot unusual patterns in large volumes of encrypted web traffic. Security teams can then investigate further,” the report says.

More threats on horizon

Meanwhile, Cisco sees more threats emerging.

So-called “burst attacks” are growing in complexity, frequency, and duration.

“In one study, 42 percent of the organizations experienced this type of DDoS [distributed denial of service] attack in 2017. In most cases, the recurring bursts lasted only a few minutes,” Cisco says.

Also, many new domains tied to spam campaigns:

“Most of the malicious domains we analyzed, about 60 percent, were associated with spam campaigns,” the report notes/

Cloud computing services do offer help.

“Security is seen as a key benefit of hosting networks in the cloud,” Cisco concludes.

“The use of on-premises and public cloud infrastructure is growing. Security is the most common benefit of hosting networks in the cloud, the security personnel respondents say.”

Don’t forget insider threat

And with all the external threats to worry about, insider troublemakers can’t be overlooked.

“A few rogue users can have a big impact,” Cisco warns.

“Just 0.5 percent of users were flagged for suspicious downloads. On average, those suspicious users were each responsible for 5200 document downloads.”

As for the Internet of Things and networks  – watch out.

“More OT [operational technology] and IoT attacks are on the horizon,” the report says.

“Thirty-one percent of security professionals said their organizations have already experienced cyber attacks on OT infrastructure.”

And if your firm uses OT from multiple vendors …

“The multivendor environment affects risk,” Cisco concludes.

“Nearly half of the security risk that organizations face stems from having multiple security vendors and products.”

You can learn more from Cisco by downloading the report.