Cisco 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report: Defenses to Leverage AI and Machine Learning Tools


CiscoSometime last week, technology corporation Cisco released its 11th 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report. Most pointers of the report described the sophisticated nature of modern malware, especially in cloud services where cybercriminals continue to weaponize complex black hat tools to evade detection via encryption. According to the report, security experts have highlighted their plans to leverage and invest heavily in tools that use AI and machine learning to reduce adversaries’ time to operate.

It has also been revealed that while encryption is targeted to bolster security, the ever-increasing volume of legitimate and malicious encrypted web traffic, which hit 50 percent as of October, has been a headache for security professionals who must pinpoint and monitor potential threats. In fact, Cisco says it has observed more than a threefold jump in encrypted network communication used by inspected malware samples over a year.

Machine Learning

According to the cybersecurity firm, the use of machine learning can demonstrably alleviate network security threats and beefing up defenses, and over time, the exercise can be automated to autonomously detect unusual patterns in encrypted web traffic, cloud and IoT devices, to mention a few.

More than 3600 chief information security officers interviewed by Cisco maintained that AI and machine learning technologies can be exploited to counter the said issue, but were frustrated by the number of inaccurate projections such systems generate. All in all, the two solutions are still in the early stages of development and will mature over time and learn to separate ‘normal’ activity in the network environments being monitored.

“Last year’s evolution of malware demonstrates that our adversaries continue to learn,” said John N. Stewart, Senior Vice President and Chief Security and Trust Officer, Cisco. “We have to raise the bar now – top-down leadership, business led, technology investments, and practice effective security – there is too much risk, and it is up to us to reduce it.”

Key Highlights in the Annual Report

To begin with, it has been revealed that the financial cost of attacks is no longer a hypothetical number. In other words, it has now been substantiated that more than half of intrusions led to financial damages of over US$500,000 that cuts across lost opportunities, revenues, customers and so much more.

Secondly, supply chain attacks are hitting new heights in terms of velocity and sophistication. Additional concerns are centered around the complexity of security as the scope of breaches continues to expand.

Furthermore, the use of the cloud is growing, and hackers are taking advantage of that adoption and lack of advanced security to spread cyber harm to businesses.

“While the cloud offers better data security, attackers are taking advantage of the fact that security teams are having difficulty defending evolving and expanding cloud environments. The combination of best practices, advanced security technologies like machine learning, and first-line-of-defense tools like cloud security platforms can help protect this environment,” reads the report.


Apart from practices that businesses have installed to shield themselves from cybercrime cases, Cisco says that security heads need to confirm that they adhere to corporate policies and practices for application, system and appliance patching.

Also, deeper and more advanced analytics must be performed, in addition to conduction security scanning of microfinance, cloud services, and application administration systems.

Additional highlights of the report can be read here.


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