Companies opted for AI, machine learning for defense, while attackers used encryption in 2017: Cisco
Companies opted for AI, machine learning for defense, while attackers used encryption in 2017: Cisco

The on-going battle between cyberattackers and those tasked with defending their company's ramparts resulted in cybercriminals adding encryption to their bag of tricks to keep their activities hidden, while the good guys placed more faith in artificial intelligence and machine learning as a defensive measure.

Cisco's 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report showed that 39 percent of organizations are relying on automation, 34 percent are reliant on machine learning, 32 percent are highly reliant on artificial intelligence. But despite using these new measures attacks happened with most totaling about $500,000 in damage being done that include , but not limited to, lost revenue, customers, opportunities, and out-of-pocket costs.

On the other side Cisco found that encryption, usually used to protect data, is being used by the black hats to encrypt their communications. Particular to and from the command and control servers. During 2017 there was a threefold increase in encrypted data found in suspected malware samples.

“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.”

The report also uncovered that the number of outside vendors used by those surveyed continued to grow with 25 percent saying they used products from 11 to 20 companies up from 18 percent in 2016.

The use of the cloud also proved to be a double-edged sword. While 57 percent of those surveyed said they host networks in the cloud due to better security, attackers are taking advantage of the fact that security teams are in fact having trouble defending cloud environments. However, the growing use of AI and machine learning could help here.

“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,” the report stated.