Study: Media and publishing verticals most at-risk of malware encounters

Media and publishing companies have experienced the most encounters with malware so far this year, according to a new midyear report from Cisco.

Cisco's 2014 Midyear Security Report analyzed 16 large multinational organizations' systems and data analytics, and found that the media and publishing sector, which includes newspapers and magazines, showed significantly higher than usual rates of malware encounters than previous years. So far this year, the media and publishing vertical has an almost 300 percent higher risk of encountering malware than the other analyzed business verticals, whereas last year, their risk was at the average.

Levi Gundert, technical lead for Cisco's threat research, analysis, and communications group, accredited the increased risk to publishing companies' large audience reach.

“I think media and publishing sites are lucrative targets for redirecting victims,” Gundert told “If you need to gain large amounts of victims and redirect them to malicious sites, media publishing sites have high traffic on a day-to-day basis.”

The pharmaceutical and chemical vertical, in addition to the aviation vertical, rounded out the top three most at-risk sectors.

Both of the verticals typically hold large amounts of intellectual property, which could make them alluring to potential attackers.

The report also found that about 15 of the 16 surveyed companies issued DNS requests for hostnames associated with malware distribution. Seventy percent of those companies were also requesting dynamic DNS (DDNS) domains. The high request rate doesn't necessarily mean a company has been compromised, Gundert said, but Cisco has found a high correlation between the two. He went on to explain that the correlation isn't black and white, but it should cause companies to inspect their requests and keep watch for malicious material.

Cisco's biannual study has been conducted since 2008.

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