Ransomware is on the rise and has become the most profitable type of malware in history. It continues to be getting more and more sophisticated and leaves IT departments unprepared, with slow detection rates, a weak network and fragile infrastructure according to the findings of the Cisco Systems’ 2016 Midyear Cybersecurity Report. Like it sounds, ransomware is computer malware that installs covertly on a victim’s computer network, executes an attack that adversely affects the system, and demands a ransom payment to restore it.

Windows Binary exploits rose to become the top web attack method over the last six months. This method provides attackers with a strong foothold into vulnerable network infrastructures and makes these attacks harder to identify and remove.

IT departments often struggle to constrain the operational space of attackers and this threatens the underlying foundation required for digital transformation. Other key findings in the Cisco report are that adversaries are expanding their focus to server-side attacks, evolving attack methods and increasing use of encryption to mask activity. On average, organizations take up to 200 days to identify new threats since visibility across a large network is challenging.

“As organizations capitalize on new business models presented by digital transformation, security is the critical foundation. Attackers are going undetected and expanding their time to operate,” said Mike Weston, Vice President, Cisco Middle East. “To close the attackers’ windows of opportunity, customers will require more visibility into their networks and must improve activities, like patching and retiring aging infrastructure lacking in advanced security capabilities.”

Bottom Line: all networks can be susceptible to ransomware, regardless of the hardware and software in use. Cisco’s median time to detection currently outpaces the industry, with approximately 13 hours to detect previously unknown compromises for the six months ending in April 2016. This result is down from 17.5 hours for the period ending in October 2015.

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