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Threat Labs
Report: LATAM

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The Netskope Threat Labs Report highlights a different segment every month. The purpose of this report series is to provide strategic, actionable intelligence on active threats against users in each segment. The segment highlighted in this report is users in Latin America.
Netskope Threat Labs Report
10 min read

In This Report

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Cloud App Adoption: OneDrive is the most popular app among users in Latin America, followed by Google Drive and Microsoft Teams. Overall, Google apps are more popular in LATAM, while Microsoft apps are more popular in other regions, with the exception of OneDrive and Outlook. Communication apps, such as WhatsApp, Google Chat, and Slack, are significantly more popular among users in Latin America when compared to other regions.

Cloud App Abuse: Attackers are increasingly abusing cloud apps as a malware delivery channel in Latin America, where cloud-delivered malware increased from 47% to 71% in the past twelve months, led by malware downloads from popular apps, including Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon S3, and Outlook.

Malware & Ransomware: The most common types of malware blocked by Netskope in Latin America were Trojans, followed by downloaders, and backdoors. Grandoreiro and Mekotio, which are banking Trojans, are among the top malware families blocked by Netskope in Latin America. LockBit and BlackCat are among the top ransomware blocked by Netskope in the same period.

Cloud App Adoption

Cloud app adoption continues to increase in Latin America, with enterprises using cloud apps to improve productivity and enable hybrid workforces. The number of apps a user in Latin America interacts with has increased from 22 to 25 apps over the past twelve months, ahead of other regions. The 12-month average of 23 apps in Latin America is slightly higher than the average of 22 apps in other regions. The top 1% of users in Latin America interacted with 75 apps per month, compared to 96 apps in other regions.

Average apps per user Latin America vs Other Regions - Last 12 Months

Users in Latin America downloaded data from cloud apps at almost the same rate as users throughout other regions, with 95% of users downloading data from cloud apps in Latin America each month, versus 93% in other regions. In the last 12 months, 72% of users in Latin America, on average, uploaded data to cloud apps, compared to 64% of users in other regions. Over the past 12 months, the number of users uploading to cloud apps in Latin America increased 4% between July 2022 and June 2023, growing almost at the same rate as other regions.

Percentage of users uploading data Latin America vs Other Regions - Last 12 Months

Most Popular Cloud Apps

OneDrive is the most popular app in Latin America and other regions, with an average of 50% and 47% users per day, respectively. Google apps, such as Drive, Gmail, and Google Cloud Storage, are more popular among users in Latin America, on average, when compared to other regions. Microsoft apps, with the exception of OneDrive and Outlook, are more popular in regions other than Latin America. This is especially true for SharePoint, with 28% of users on average in other regions versus 17% of users in Latin America. YouTube and WhatsApp are also more popular among users in Latin America, especially WhatsApp, with 5.6x more usage. Facebook is also a popular app among users in LATAM, with a slightly higher average of use compared to other regions.

Overall App Popularity Latin America vs Other Regions

Top Apps Used for Uploads

In addition to being the most popular app overall, Microsoft OneDrive is also the most popular app used for uploads, with 21% of users regularly uploading data on average per day in Latin America, which is slightly lower compared to other regions. Communication apps, such as WhatsApp, Google Chat, and Slack, are more popular for uploads among users in Latin America than in other regions, especially WhatsApp, with 7.7x more usage. Mail apps, such as Google Gmail and Microsoft Outlook, are also more popular among users in Latin America than other regions.

Google Drive is also more popular in Latin America when compared to other regions, with 4.2% of users uploading data on average each day. Other popular apps for uploads in Latin America are SharePoint, Instagram, and Box, with Instagram being used 2.5x more in Latin America.

Apps Used for Uploads Latin America vs Other Regions

Top Apps Used for Downloads

OneDrive leads the most popular cloud apps for downloads by users in Latin America, with 23% of users per day on average. Communication apps, such as WhatsApp and Slack, are popular apps among users in Latin America for downloads, especially WhatsApp, with 5.8x more usage when compared to other regions. Sharepoint holds the third place, with 11% of users downloading data on average, but less popular in Latin America when compared to other regions.

Cloud apps for file storage, such as Google Cloud Storage, Azure Blob Storage, Amazon S3, and Google Drive, are more popular among users in Latin America for downloads compared to other regions. Mail apps, like Google Gmail and Outlook, are also popular among users in Latin America for downloads.

Apps Used for Downloads Latin America vs Other Regions

Cloud App Abuse

Cloud Malware Delivery

The popularity of cloud malware delivery in Latin American organizations has increased significantly in the past 12 months, increasing from 47% in July 2022 to 71% in June 2023. The 12-month average in Latin American organizations is slightly higher compared to other regions, with 61% of malware downloads from users in Latin America compared to 57% in other regions. Attackers attempt to fly under the radar by delivering malicious content via popular cloud apps. Abusing cloud apps for malware delivery enables attackers to evade security controls that rely primarily on domain block lists and URL filtering, or that do not inspect cloud traffic.

Malware Delivery, Cloud vs. Web Latin America vs Other Regions - Last 12 Months

Compared to other regions, Latin America has a higher average of malware downloads from the cloud, with 61% on average, behind only Australia.

Malware Sourced from the Cloud Last 12 Months Average LATAM

Cloud Apps Abused for Malware Delivery

In the last 12 months, Microsoft OneDrive was the most popular cloud app abused for malware downloads in Latin American organizations, representing 21% of all cloud malware downloads. As highlighted earlier in this report, Microsoft OneDrive is also the most popular app among users in Latin America, which makes it both an useful app for attackers seeking to target a wide variety of organizations using the same toolset, and also makes it more likely that the malicious payloads would reach their targets.

Amazon S3 is the second most popular app for malware downloads in Latin American organizations, with 11% of users on average in the last 12 months, significantly above the average in other regions. Mail apps (Outlook, Gmail) are also popular for malware downloads in Latin America, especially Outlook, with 7.5% of downloads on average. GitHub is also commonly abused in Latin America for malware downloads, with a similar average when compared to other regions.

Other apps for file storing/sharing, like Azure Blob Storage, Google Drive, SharePoint, and Dropbox, are also commonly abused in Latin America for malware downloads. The free web hosting service Weebly is also popular for malware downloads in Latin American organizations, but less so than other regions.

Top Cloud Apps Abused for Malware Download Last 12 Months Latin America vs Other Regions

Malware & Ransomware

Top Malware Types

The most common malware detected by Netskope in Latin America in the last twelve months were Trojans, which are commonly used by attackers to gain an initial foothold and deliver other types of malware, such as infostealers, remote access Trojans, backdoors, and ransomware. The second most common type of malware are downloaders, which, like Trojans, are also used to deliver other types of malware.

Rounding out the top three are backdoors. Like Trojans, some malware payloads blocked in this category can also fit other categories, because they provide not only clandestine remote access, but also keylogging, file manipulation, registry manipulation, and other malicious features. Malware in this category include Remcos, Quakbot, and NjRAT (a.k.a Bladabindi).

Most Common Types of Malware Last 12 Months Latin America vs Other Regions

Top Malware & Ransomware Families

Infostealer.AgentTesla is a .NET-based remote access Trojan with many capabilities, such as stealing browsers’ passwords, capturing keystrokes, clipboard, etc.

Botnet.Emotet is one of the most prevalent botnets in the cyber threat landscape, often used to deliver other malware such as TrickBot.

Downloader.BanLoad is a Java-based downloader widely used to deliver a variety of malware payloads, especially banking Trojans.

Trojan.Grandoreiro is a Latin America banking trojan with the goal of stealing sensitive banking information, commonly targeting Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and Peru.

Downloader.Guloader is a small downloader known for delivering RAT and infostealers, such as AgentTesla, Formbook, and Remcos.

Trojan.Mekotio is a banking Trojan that usually targets customers of financial institutions based in Latin America.

Trojan.FormBook (a.k.a. XLoader) is a malware that provides full control over infected machines, offering many functionalities such as stealing passwords and executing additional malware.

Infostealer.Dridex has been around since at least 2015 and has had its botnet infrastructure taken down multiple times, but continues to re-emerge with new features and new infrastructure.

Ransomware.LockBit 3.0 (a.k.a. Black) is the latest version of the LockBit ransomware, emerged in September 2019, becoming one of the most relevant RaaS groups in the world.

Ransomware.BlackCat (a.k.a. ALPHV and Noberus) is a Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) group that emerged in November 2021, making headlines for being a sophisticated ransomware written in Rust.

Recommendations

This report highlighted increasing cloud adoption, including increases of data being uploaded to and downloaded from a wide variety of cloud apps. It also highlighted an increasing trend of attackers abusing a wide variety of cloud apps, especially popular enterprise apps, to deliver malware to their victims. The malware samples were primarily Trojans, but also included downloaders, backdoors, file-based exploits, ransomware, and infostealers. Netskope Threat Labs recommends organizations in Latin America review their security posture to ensure that they are adequately protected against these trends:

  • Inspect all HTTP and HTTPS downloads, including all web and cloud traffic, to prevent malware from infiltrating your network. Netskope customers can configure their Netskope NG-SWG with a Threat Protection policy that applies to downloads from all categories and applies to all file types.
  • Ensure that high-risk file types like executables and archives are thoroughly inspected using a combination of static and dynamic analysis before being downloaded. Netskope Advanced Threat Protection customers can use a Patient Zero Prevention Policy to hold downloads until they have been fully inspected.
  • Configure policies to block downloads from apps and instances that are not used in your organization to reduce your risk surface to only those apps and instances that are necessary for the business.
  • Configure policies to block uploads to apps and instances that are not used in your organization to reduce the risk of accidental or deliberate data exposure from insiders or abuse by attackers.
  • Use an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) that can identify and block malicious traffic patterns, such as command and control traffic associated with popular malware. Blocking this type of communication can prevent further damage by limiting the attacker’s ability to perform additional actions.

In addition to the recommendations above, Remote Browser Isolation (RBI) technology can provide additional protection when there is a need to visit websites that fall into categories that can present higher risk, like Newly Observed and Newly Registered Domains.

Netskope Threat Labs

Staffed by the industry’s foremost cloud threat and malware researchers, Netskope Threat Labs discovers, analyzes, and designs defenses against the latest cloud threats affecting enterprises. Our researchers are regular presenters and volunteers at top security conferences, including DefCon, BlackHat, and RSA.

About This Report

Netskope provides threat protection to millions of users worldwide. Information presented in this report is based on anonymized usage data collected by the Netskope Security Cloud platform relating to a subset of Netskope customers with prior authorization.

This report contains information about detections raised by Netskope’s Next Generation Secure Web Gateway (SWG), not considering the significance of the impact of each individual threat. Stats in this report are based on the period starting July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023. Stats are reflection of attacker tactics, user behavior, and organization policy.

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Threat Labs Reports

In the monthly Netskope Threat Labs Report, you will find the top 5 malicious domains, malware, and apps that the Netskope Security Cloud platform blocked plus recent publications and a threat roundup.

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