Cloud-delivered malware: Why you need to stay vigilant, even in the cloud
The past 18 months has been a prolific period for cloud adoption, with businesses benefiting from unprecedented global scale. But at the same time there’s been an equally prolific rise in cloud-based attacks, with cyber criminals exploiting loopholes to deliver malware, phishing pages and other malicious content. With an expectation that this will continue, businesses need to be prepared with a response in kind, using backup, disaster recovery and more.
What is cloud-delivered malware, and what started it?
There’s a new threat to business security, and this time it’s coming from inside the cloud. Now more than ever, malware is being delivered via cloud apps and tools. It’s what’s referred to as ‘cloud-delivered’ malware and it introduces malicious code via cloud apps, leveraging the interconnected nature of the cloud with the aim of infecting the larger system. Attacks, delivered through cloud apps and services, have become increasingly popular because attackers can exploit popular platforms to distribute malicious files to their victims. These files are often delivered via the cloud, making it more challenging for traditional security solutions to detect and block them.
The rise in this increased activity, according to an industry report, indicates that 66% of all malware downloads in 2021 originated from cloud apps, which is up from 46% in 2020. If you look at the cloud applications that are most often targeted by hackers, it’s no surprise that tried-and-trusted storage services, such as Google Drive, are at the top of the list.
The outbreak of the global pandemic led to a sudden change in the way businesses operated, and with it a marked increase in risky, unchecked and remote behaviour by employees. Attackers quickly sought to exploit the pandemic, using Covid-19 and government support-themed phishing emails, scams, and trojans to reel in unsuspecting and, at times, accident-prone targets.
Why is cloud-based malware a threat to businesses?
One piece of malware can cause a lot of damage in a cloud environment. Cloud malware can also spread using apps that look like they’re part of regular app-to-app data traffic. In fact, a huge amount of traffic flowing around cloud networks is used by malware to do things like hiding data that’s being stolen, or updating itself with new features.
Cloud hosting services are easy to access and usually offer free or low-cost options, making them an attractive target for attackers. One of the advantages that cloud services offer to cyber criminals is the opportunity to use multiple tools within the same application to deliver malicious content. For example, if a phishing page is set up in Google Docs, the attackers can use Gmail to deliver the malware, adding an element of legitimacy since the message appears to be sent from a trusted source.
What can be done to protect your business from a cloud-delivered malware attack?
Although cloud-based malware is very sophisticated, basic security measures can go a long way in keeping it out of your cloud environment. By implementing layered controls and maintaining them properly, you can help stop malicious code from spreading.
Businesses can also reduce the significant risk posed by malware by thoroughly examining the services that third-party cloud providers offer to their businesses. That’s why it’s imperative to build a close relationship with a third party cloud specialist who has the right support and tools to keep your data safe.
Trust in the cloud
As cloud-based exploitation methods become more sophisticated, businesses need to evolve their security approaches from traditional models to remain proactive in mitigating risks while still reaping the business potential offered by the cloud. This requires a balance of flexibility and security to keep pace with the ever-changing landscape of the cloud, while always ensuring the highest-grade SSL-encrypted backup service to keep data safe and protected, even in the cloud.