How attackers attempt to infect organizations

A new report by Palo Alto Networks, based on data from more than 7,000 enterprises worldwide, showcases real-world trends in enterprise application usage and critical developments in how attackers are attempting to infect organizations.

Findings highlight the explosion in adoption of SaaS based applications, with the potential to introduce new security risks, or allow unauthorized access to sensitive data.


Key findings:

SaaS-based applications explode in popularity – The number of SaaS-based applications observed on enterprise networks has grown 46 percent from 2012 to 2015, and now includes more than 316 applications.

Email attachments continue their toxicity – Over 40 percent of email attachments were found to be malicious.

Remote access application usage is widespread – There are currently 79 unique remote access applications in use worldwide, which are commonly used by cyberattackers during the course of their operations.

Tragedies in the news or headline news turned into attack vectors – On average, there was a six-hour gap between a breaking news story and when it was used to deliver a spear phishing or spam or Web attack.

Prominent adversary profiles exposed – Three threat actors: Carbanak (Russia/Ukraine), Sandworm (Russia), and Shell Crew (China) have been identified as groups that are engaged in cyberespionage and cybercriminal activity targeting government and business organizations throughout Europe and North America.

Recommended actions:

  • With the increasing popularity of SaaS applications, security teams are cautioned to familiarize themselves with “shadow IT” – a trend occurring in enterprise networks in which users use SaaS and other applications without IT’s knowledge or approval – and its potential to weaken security policies.
  • Pervasiveness of malicious email attachments highlights the need for automated security measures that can automatically stop a disguised executable file mistakenly activated by an end user.
  • The speed at which new threats are evolving is getting faster and faster. Automated attack tools help criminals to take advantage of new vulnerabilities in a matter of hours. Stopping these attacks requires automated advanced threat prevention measures that provide broad visibility and protection against known and unknown threats.



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