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Threat Labs Report: Retail 2024

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This report examines the cloud adoption and threat trends affecting organizations in the Retail sector over the past 12 months, highlighting attackers consistently using social engineering to target users with Trojans via popular cloud apps.
Netskope Threat Labs Report
8 min read

In This Report link link

Cloud App Adoption: Microsoft OneDrive is the most popular app in the Retail sector. Although Google apps like Google Drive are still popular we can see the Retail industry changing its preference to Microsoft apps such as Outlook.

Cloud App Abuse: Microsoft OneDrive was the most popular app for malware downloads, replacing Google apps as the preference when compared to last year’s Retail report.

Malware & Ransomware: Among the most prevalent malware families targeting victims in Retail were the remote access Trojan NjRat, the botnet Mirai, and the infostealers Azorult and AgentTesla.

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Cloud App Adoption link link

The average user in the Retail sector interacts with an average of 20 cloud apps per month. The top 1% of users interacted with 80 apps per month.

Average apps per user Retail vs Other Regions - Last 12 Months 2024

Users in the Retail sector downloaded data from cloud apps at a similar rate as other industries, with 89% of users downloading data from cloud apps in the Retail sector versus 94% in other industries. The same behavior remains when it comes to uploaded data, with 59% of Retail users uploading data while other industries averaged 67%.

Percentage of users uploading data Retail vs Other Regions - Last 12 Months 2024

Most Popular Cloud Apps

The top 10 most popular cloud apps in the Retail sector mirror other industries. Microsoft OneDrive, the most popular app in most industries, led all other apps with almost the same percentage of other industries. When comparing last year’s overall app popularity Google Drive remains in second place, but Outlook takes Google Gmail’s place, showing a growing preference for Microsoft apps.

Overall App Popularity Retail vs Other Regions 2024

Top Apps Used for Uploads

As expected, with Microsoft OneDrive being the most popular app by a large margin, it is also the app most used for uploading data, with 18% of Retail users uploading data to OneDrive daily, although similarly lagging behind other industries where OneDrive is more popular. WhatsApp on the other hand is more than three times higher in Retail than in other industries.

Apps Used for Uploads Retail vs Other Regions 2024

Top Apps Used for Downloads

OneDrive is also the most popular app for downloads in Retail, with 22% of users downloading from it, lagging 1 percentage point behind other industries where OneDrive is more popular. The same preference for WhatsApp can be found in the apps used for download.

Apps Used for Downloads Retail vs Other Regions 2024

Cloud App Abuse link link

Cloud Malware Delivery

Over the past year, the percentage of malware downloads from cloud apps has decreased gradually from its peak a year ago, hovering around 50%, with approximately half of all malware downloads over HTTP and HTTPS coming from popular cloud apps and the other half coming from regular websites. Throughout this time, the Retail sector has been very close to other industries since August of last year. Today, approximately 47% of all malware downloads in the Retail industry originate from cloud apps, compared to 52% from other industries. The abuse of cloud apps allows the malware to fly under the radar and evade regular security controls that rely on tools such as domain block lists or that do not inspect cloud traffic.

Malware Delivery, Cloud vs. Web, Retail vs Other Regions - Last 12 Months 2024

Compared to six other industries averaged over the past year, the Retail sector is fifth on the list with 47% of malware sourced from the cloud, 13 percentage points less than last year.

Malware Sourced from the Cloud Last 12 Months Average - Retail 2024

Cloud Apps Abused for Malware Delivery

Although OneDrive is again presented at the top of the list, it was not always like that. In last year’s Retail report, Google applications, such as Google Drive and Google Gmail, were highly used by the people in the Retail industry, with percentages reaching over five times more than other industries. The GitHub app seems to be moving in the same direction as well.

Adversaries abuse Microsoft OneDrive because it is the most popular cloud storage app. Meanwhile, people who regularly use Microsoft OneDrive are more likely to click on links to download files shared with them on that platform. Therefore, the number of malware downloads that Netskope detects and blocks from Microsoft OneDrive is both a reflection of adversary tactics (abusing OneDrive to distribute malware) and victim behavior (their likelihood to click on the links and download the malware).

Top Cloud Apps Abused for Malware Download Last 12 Months Retail vs Other Regions 2024

Top Malware & Ransomware Families link link

This list contains the top 10 malware and ransomware families detected by Netskope targeting users in the Retail sector in the last 12 months:

Botnet.Mirai is one of the most famous botnets targeting exposed networking devices running Linux. Discovered in 2016, this malware has been targeting a wide range of devices such as routers, cameras, and other IoT devices. Since its source code leak, the number of variants of this malware has increased considerably.

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

Infostealer.Azorult (a.k.a. PuffStealer) is a malware that aims to steal sensitive information such as account passwords. The malware is reported to be delivered via Google Sides and using HTML Smuggling to achieve its final execution.

Infostealer.QakBot (a.k.a. Quakbot, QBot) is a modular malware active since 2007 capable of stealing sensitive financial data from infected systems, often delivered via malicious documents.

Phishing.PhishingX is a malicious PDF file used as part of a phishing campaign to redirect victims to a phishing page.

RAT.ComRAT is a second-stage implant used by the Turla threat group. The first version of ComRAT was identified in 2007. The malware can send information to the attacker and receive commands to be executed.

RAT.NjRAT (a.k.a. Bladabindi) is a remote access Trojan with many capabilities, including logging keystrokes, stealing credentials from browsers, accessing the victim’s camera, and managing files.

RAT.Remcos is a remote access Trojan that provides an extensive list of features to remotely control devices, and it’s popularly abused by many attackers.

Trojan.ModernLoader (a.k.a Avatar Bot) is a malware able to collect basic system information as well as deliver multiple malwares to the infection system such as cryptominers and RATs.

Trojan.Ursnif (a.k.a. Gozi) is a banking Trojan and backdoor, whose source code was leaked on GitHub in 2005, allowing attackers to create and distribute many variants.

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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 (mostly Trojans) to their victims. Netskope Threat Labs recommends organizations in the retail sector 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.
  • Use Remote Browser Isolation (RBI) technology to 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 link link

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 link link

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 March 1, 2023 through February 29, 2024. Stats are a 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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