Even as organizations enhance their cybersecurity defenses, attackers are adopting more sophisticated tactics to penetrate IT systems and evade detection, according to recent research from Cisco Systems Inc.

Indeed, the networking giant sees five key trends on the attacker front.  They include:

1. Shape Shifters: They change their tactics and tools from moment to moment, disappearing from a network before they can be stopped, or quickly choosing a different method to gain entry.

2. Scaled Attacks: They devise spam campaigns using hundreds of IP addresses in an attempt to bypass IP-based anti-spam reputation products.

3. Trusted Doorways: They design malware that relies on tools that users trust, or view as benign, to persistently infect and hide in plain sight on their machines.

4. Guerrilla Warfare: They find new vulnerabilities to exploit if vendors shut down weaknesses in other products.

5. Digital Camouflage: They work at establishing a hidden presence or blend in with the targeted organization, sometimes taking weeks or months to establish multiple footholds in infrastructure and user databases. Only when they are ready will they execute their core mission.

According to Cisco's Security Capabilities Benchmark Study, "security professionals say they’re optimistic that they’re well prepared to hold back online attackers. Yet adversaries continue to steal information, make money through scams, or disrupt networks for political goals. In the end, security is a numbers game: Even if an organization blocks 99.99 percent of billions of spam messages, some will make it through. There is no way to ensure 100 percent effectiveness."

For the complete Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report, visit here (registration required).

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