Home SecurityCloud Security Use of cloud collaboration tools surges and so do attacks

Use of cloud collaboration tools surges and so do attacks

by Lucian Constantin

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed companies to adapt to new government-mandated restrictions on workforce movement around the world. The immediate response has been rapid adoption and integration of cloud services, particularly cloud-based collaboration tools such Microsoft Office 365, Slack and videoconferencing platforms. A new report by security firm McAfee shows that hackers are responding to this with increased focus on abusing cloud account credentials.

After analyzing cloud usage data that was collected between January and April from over 30 million enterprise users of its MVISION Cloud security monitoring platform, the company estimates a 50% growth in the adoption of cloud services across all industries. Some industries, however, saw a much bigger spike–for example manufacturing with 144% and education with 114%.

The use rate of certain collaboration and videoconferencing tools has been particularly high. Cisco Webex usage has increased by 600%, Zoom by 350%, Microsoft Teams by 300% and Slack by 200%. Again, manufacturing and education ranked at the top.

While this rise in the adoption of cloud services is understandable and, some would argue, a good thing for productivity in light of the forced work-from-home situation, it has also introduced security risks. McAfee’s data shows that traffic from unmanaged devices to enterprise cloud accounts doubled.

“There’s no way to recover sensitive data from an unmanaged device, so this increased access could result in data loss events if security teams aren’t controlling cloud access by device type.”

Cloud threats increased

Attackers have taken notice of this rapid adoption of cloud services and are trying to exploit the situation. According to McAfee, the number of external threats targeting cloud services increased by 630% over the same period, with the greatest concentration on collaboration platforms.

For its report, the company split suspicious login attempts and access into two categories: excessive usage from anomalous location and suspicious superhuman. Both have seen a similar surge and growth pattern over the time period analyzed.

Excessive usage from anomalous location. This category is for successful logins from locations that are unusual given the organization’s profile, followed by the user accessing large quantities of data or performing a high number of privileged tasks.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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