Malware courtesy of cloud apps

Netskope Cloud and Threat Report reveals cybercriminals target trusted cloud apps for phishing and malware attacks as cloud usage increases with remote work.

Netskope has revealed new research showing that the majority of all malware is now delivered via cloud applications, underscoring how attackers increasingly abuse popular cloud services to evade legacy security defences putting enterprise data increasingly at risk.

The findings are part of the February 2021 Netskope Cloud and Threat Report, which analyses the most interesting trends on enterprise cloud service and app use, web and cloud-enabled threats, and cloud data migrations and transfers.

“While enterprises may think that the greatest threat comes from lesser-known and obviously dodgy-looking cloud services, it’s very clear that it is actually the most trusted and popular cloud apps that cyber criminals are abusing for cloud phishing and malware delivery,” said Paolo Passeri, Cyber Intelligence Principal at Netskope. “Enterprises need to make sure that they have visibility of the content and context of cloud application use, and that they are able to apply granular policy controls to ensure they can make use of the productivity tools that are central to their IT, without leaving themselves exposed to such risks.”

Key Findings

Based on anonymised data collected from the Netskope Security Cloud platform across millions of users from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, key findings of the report include:

Cloud use on the rise. In 2020, the number of cloud apps in use per organisation increased 20%. Organisations with 500 - 2,000 employees now use on average 664 distinct cloud apps per month. Of those apps, nearly half have a “Poor” Cloud Confidence IndexTM (CCI), a measure pioneered by Netskope to determine a cloud service’s enterprise readiness.

Malware delivery continues to shift into the cloud, with 61% of all malware delivered via a cloud app, up from 48% year-over-year.

Popularity of cloud apps in the enterprise makes them a target for phishing attacks. Cloud apps are now the target of one in three (36%) phishing campaigns. While the majority of phishing lures are still hosted on traditional websites, attackers are increasingly using cloud apps to gain footholds in organisations.

The volume of malicious Microsoft Office documents increased by 58%, as attackers are increasingly using malicious Office documents as Trojans to deliver next stage payloads, including ransomware and backdoors. Using cloud app delivery to evade legacy email and web defences, malicious Office documents represent 27% of all malware downloads detected and blocked by the Netskope Security Cloud.

Sensitive data in personal apps continues to grow. As work and home life continue to blend in the remote workforce, personal app instances in the enterprise increase, with 83% of users accessing personal app instances on corporate devices. The average enterprise user uploads 20 files to personal apps each month from these managed devices. Personal app usage in the enterprise greatly increases the likelihood of data being mishandled or leaked.

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