McAfee finds surge in criminals attacking cloud services and tools

Cybercrims not wasting time in taking advantage of the surge in cloud adoption.

As the world works through the current COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminals are turning up the pressure for organisations to secure their data, as workers are forced to work outside of the normal office environment.

According to McAfee’s latest research, Cloud Adoption & Risk Report – Work-from-Home Edition has uncovered a correlation between the increased use of cloud services and collaboration tools — Cisco WebEx, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack — during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with an increase in cyber-attacks targeting the cloud.

According to the report “significant and potentially” long-lasting trends that include an increase in the use of cloud services, access from unmanaged devices and the rise of cloud-native threats.

Enterprise adoption of cloud services spiked by 50 percent, including industries such as manufacturing and financial services that typically rely on legacy on-premises applications, networking, and security more than others. Use of cloud collaboration tools increased significantly, with the education sector seeing the most growth as more students are required to adopt distance learning practices.

Most of these external attacks targeted collaboration services like Microsoft 365, and were large-scale attempts to access cloud accounts with stolen credentials. Insider threats remained the same, indicating that working from home has not negatively influenced employee loyalty. Access to the cloud by unmanaged, personal devices doubled, adding another layer of risk for security professionals working to keep their data secure in the cloud.

Rajiv Gupta, senior vice president Cloud Security at McAfee said, there’s a tremendous amount of courage and global goodwill to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. However there’s also are unfortunately seeing an increase in bad actors looking to exploit the sudden uptick in cloud adoption created by an increase in working from home.

“The risk of threat actors targeting the cloud far outweighs the risk brought on by changes in employee behavior. Mitigating this risk requires cloud-native security solutions that can detect and prevent external attacks and data loss from the cloud and from the use of unmanaged devices. Cloud-native security has to be deployed and managed remotely and can’t add any friction to employees whose work from home is essential to the health of their organisation.”

With cloud-native threats increasing in step with cloud adoption, all industries need to evaluate their security posture to protect against account takeover and data exfiltration. Companies need to safeguard against threat actors attempting to exploit weaknesses in their cloud deployments. Tips to maintain strong security posture include:

  • Think cloud-first:A cloud-centric security mindset can support the increase in cloud use and combat cloud-native threats. Enterprises need to shift their focus to data in the cloud and to cloud-native security services so they can maintain full visibility and control with a remote, distributed workforce.
  • Consider your network:Remote work reduces the ability for hub and spoke networking to work effectively with scale. Network controls should be cloud-delivered and should connect remote users directly to the cloud services they need.
  • Consolidate and reduce complexity: Cloud-delivered network security and cloud-native data security should smoothly interoperate, ideally be consolidated to reduce complexity and total cost of ownership and increase security effectiveness and responsiveness.

 This data set was collected between January and April 2020, represents companies across all major industries across the globe, including financial services, healthcare, public sector, education, retail, technology, manufacturing, energy, utilities, legal, real estate, transportation and business services.






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