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Use of High-Risk Apps and Websites Increased 161% Amid Work-from-Home Shift, New Research Shows

Alina Bizga

August 07, 2020

Use of High-Risk Apps and Websites Increased 161% Amid Work-from-Home Shift, New Research Shows

The August 2020 edition of the Netskope Cloud and Threat Report highlights a 161% increase in visits to high-risk apps and sites brought on by a 64% remote workforce.

The number of remote workers has risen 148% since the beginning of the pandemic, and sudden changes in user behavior set the scene for an alarming trend that continues to strain security teams.

Researchers have spotted a 97% increase for personal use of managed devices, topped off with a 600% increase in visits to adult-related websites amid the pandemic.

“As employees become more accustomed to remote work, the lines are blurred between business and personal use, as employees are much more likely to use their devices for personal reasons and engage in risky activities,” the report said.

Increased sharing of personal devices within the household can also contribute to the spike in personal app and web traffic use. The paper emphasized a rise in network traffic pertaining to a wide range of cloud apps and websites such as education, games and kids-based content.

“The increase in certain categories — like Education and Kids — indicates that enterprise devices are being shared with other members of the household and perhaps being used to help homeschool children,” researchers noted. “Use of devices by non-employees increases the risks to the security of those devices.”

Additionally, “7% of all users uploaded sensitive corporate data to personal instances of cloud apps—putting this data at risk of inappropriate use and theft,” researchers added. Among the most common types of data uploaded by remote workers, the report listed Personal Identifiable Information (PPI), Personal Health Information (PHI), source codes and confidential information relating to companies.

Analysis of anonymized data collected from millions of users between January and June 2020 also showed that 63% of malware was delivered over cloud applications such as Microsoft Office 365 OneDrive for Business, Sharepoint, Google Drive and Amazon S3. Phishing attempts (15%) leveraging cloud-based apps were also a prominent cloud threat for the first half of 2020, with Facebook, AOL Mail, Blogger and Microsoft Live Outlook listed among the most popular apps used for delivery.



Alina Bizga

Alina has been a part of the Bitdefender family for some years now, as her past role involved interfacing with end users and partners, advocating Bitdefender technologies and solutions. She is a history buff and passionate about cybersecurity and anything sci-fi. Her spare time is usually split between her two feline friends and traveling.

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