Cyber Attacks to Reach New Heights in 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif. The  rapid growth in intelligent mobile device adoption and cloud computing coupled with a lack of skilled security professionals to monitor and secure networks, have left many organizations vulnerable to cyber-attacks, according to a new report from Cisco.

The Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report states that the number of security alerts issued around the world has grown 14 percent between October 2012 and October 2013.

Multipurpose Trojans was the most widely-used type of malware in 2013, accounting for 27 percent of all viruses. Following closely behind are malicious scripts (23 percent) and data theft Trojans (22 percent).

Approximately 99 percent of all mobile malware targeted Android devices, with Andr/Qdplugin-A representing the most frequently encountered mobile malware at 43.8 percent. Meanwhile, Java is the most exploited programming language, according to the report.

Among the biggest threats that organizations need to look out for include Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which disrupt traffic to and from targeted Web sites and can paralyze ISPs. Noting that DDoS attacks have increased in volume and severity, the report also mentions that the occurrences seek to conceal other nefarious activity, such as wire fraud before, during or after a noisy and distracting DDoS campaign.

Specific business sectors, such as the pharmaceutical and chemical industry and the electronics manufacturing industry, have historically had high malware encounter rates, according to the report. In 2012 and 2013, there was remarkable growth in malware encounters for the agriculture and mining industry—formerly a relatively low-risk sector. Malware encounters also continued to rise in the energy, oil and gas sectors.

John N. Stewart, Cisco’s senior vice president and chief security officer for threat response intelligence and development, admitted that the report “paints a grim picture of the current state of cyber security.” Still, he remains optimistic that such issues can be corrected.

“[It] starts with empowering defenders with real-world knowledge about expanding attack surfaces,” he says. “To truly protect against all of these possible attacks, defenders must understand the attackers, their motivations and their methods — before, during and after an attack.”

To view the full report, visit

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