External attacks on cloud accounts increased by over 600% during Covid-19: Report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on May 27, 2020

External attacks on cloud accounts have increased by over 600 per cent amid Covid-19, according to a new research study by cybersecurity from McAfee titled ‘Cloud Adoption & Risk Report – Work-from-Home Edition’.

The report is meant to understand the correlation between “the increased use of cloud services and collaboration tools, such as Cisco WebEx, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack during the Covid-19 pandemic, along with an increase in cyber-attacks targeting the cloud.”

It is based on aggregated, anonymised data from over 30 million McAfee MVISION Cloud users across the globe.

External threats for cloud accounts

External attacks on cloud accounts have increased by 630 per cent between January and April 2020, according to the report. Cloud threats from external actors have increased especially in the Transportation, Government, and Manufacturing verticals.

These threats include stolen passwords, credential stuffing, activities from high-risk locations and ‘super-human’ anomalies.

“Most of these external attacks targeted collaboration services like Microsoft 365, and were large-scale attempts to access cloud accounts with stolen credentials,” the report said.

This comes at a time when there is a massive surge in the adoption of cloud technologies.

“In the time surveyed, overall enterprise adoption of cloud services spiked by 50 per cent, including industries such as manufacturing and financial services that typically rely on legacy on-premises applications, networking and security more than others,” the report said.

Massive surge in usage

Usage of cloud-based collaboration tools including Cisco WebEx, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack has increased by 600 per cent amid the pandemic between January and April with the education sector seeing the most growth in usage.

“We are witnessing an explosive increase in remote working and adoption of collaborative tools across industries in India. We have seen Cloud-native threats multiply seven-fold. Cybercriminals are adept at adjusting their strategies and are now focusing their efforts to exploit the sudden acceleration in cloud adoption.” said Sanjay Manohar, MD, McAfee India.

“In addition, cloud traffic from unmanaged devices and unsecured networks expose businesses to massive risk. Mitigating this risk will require companies to establish an integrated cloud security posture and deploy solutions that have visibility and security controls across every cloud service.”

The report also provided certain tips for companies to safeguard their networks and prevent their systems from such threats. This includes a cloud-centric security mindset, delivering network controls through the cloud and consolidating and reducing complexity in cloud-delivered network security and cloud-native data security.

Published on May 27, 2020

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