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Threat Labs
Report: RETAIL

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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 working in retail.
Netskope Threat Labs Report
8 min read

In This Report link link

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Cloud App Adoption: Google Drive, Google Gmail, and WhatsApp are among the top five most popular apps in retail, where all three are significantly more popular than they are in other industries. Although Microsoft OneDrive still takes the top spot, these three apps push Microsoft Teams and Microsoft SharePoint further down the rankings compared to other industries.

Cloud App Abuse: Google Drive and Google Gmail are the two most popular apps for malware downloads in the retail sector, a contrast to other industry verticals, where Microsoft OneDrive is the top app.

Malware & Ransomware: Attackers primarily targeted users in the retail sector with Trojans to trick them into downloading other malware payloads. Other malware types from famous malware families were also spotted such as Guloader and Remcos, as well as the Avaddon ransomware.

Cloud App Adoption link link

The average user in the retail sector interacts with an average of 20 cloud apps per month. In the past 12 months the usage average remains very consistent in the retail sector, with a range between 19 and 21 apps. The top 1% of users interacted with 85 apps per month.

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

Users in the retail sector downloaded data from cloud apps at almost the same rate as other industries, with 89% of users downloading data from cloud apps in retail versus 94% in other industries. For data uploads to cloud apps, retail averaged 61%, while other industries averaged slightly higher at 66%.

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

Most Popular Cloud Apps

As it is in most industries, OneDrive is the most popular app in retail. Google Drive and Google Gmail are much more popular than in other industries. They are more popular than Microsoft Teams and Microsoft SharePoint, which are typically in second or third place in other industries. The messaging app WhatsApp is also significantly more popular in retail, also beating SharePoint in terms of popularity.

Overall App Popularity Retail vs Other Regions

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 16% of retail users uploading data to OneDrive daily.

Apps Used for Uploads Retail vs Other Regions

Top Apps Used for Downloads

OneDrive is also the most popular app for downloads in retail, with 19% of users downloading from it. As for apps used for upload, WhatsApp also has a very high usage rate of 17% for download versus 5% of other industries. This number represents more than three times the percentage of other industries.

Apps Used for Downloads Retail vs Other Regions

Cloud App Abuse link link

Cloud Malware Delivery

The popularity of cloud malware delivery in retail pretty much followed the other industries in the past 12 months, except for the months of April, May, and June, which showed a considerably higher number of malware being delivered via cloud apps when compared to other industries. In April, for example, 70% of the malware delivered to retail were via cloud apps, 10% more than other industries. The abuse of cloud apps allows malware to fly under the radar and to 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

Compared to other industries, the retail sector is in third place with 60% when it comes to malware sourced from the cloud, which is just 3% less than financial services in second place.

Malware Sourced from the Cloud Last 12 Months Average - Retail

Cloud Apps Abused for Malware Delivery

Unlike the majority of other industries where OneDrive is both the most popular app adopted by users and the top app for malware downloads, retail follows a different path. Google Drive and Google Gmail–both which are more popular in retail than in other industries–took the top two spots for malware delivery. Such malware downloads typically take the form of an attacker using Google Drive, for example, to host malware and share the malware with their victims. Occasionally, a user may inadvertently upload an infected file to a shared location that results in malware spreading within an organization.

The popularity of Google Apps among users in retail makes it useful apps for attackers seeking to target a wide variety of organizations using the same app, and also makes it more likely that the malicious payloads would reach their targets.

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

Malware & Ransomware link link

Top Malware Types

The most common types of malware that Netskope users attempted to download from the web or cloud 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. Detecting and blocking Trojans can prevent malware infections that would result in other malicious payloads being installed. All other types of malware make up a comparatively small percentage of the total, which is the same as in other regions.

Most Common Types of Malware Last 12 Months Retail vs Other Regions

Top Malware & Ransomware Families

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

Backdoor.Zusy (a.k.a. TinyBanker) is a banking Trojan based on the source code of Zeus, aiming to steal personal information via code injection into websites.

Botnet.Andromeda (a.k.a Gamarue) is a modular botnet first introduced in 2011. The malware is known for being used to spread multiple malware families.

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

Downloader.Upatre is a downloader used to distribute other payloads such as Locky and Dridex.

Infostealer.ClipBanker is an infostealer that steals banking information among other data and is typically spread via emails and social media.

Infostealer.Khalesi (a.k.a KPOT) is an infostealer usually spread via phishing emails. The malware can collect information such as credentials, personal info, and credit card information from the infected computer.

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

Ransomware.Avaddon had its first known attack in February 2020. The malware attacks the Windows operating system and is often spread via malicious spam.

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.Valyria (a.k.a. POWERSTATS) is a family of malicious Microsoft Office Documents that contain embedded malicious VBScripts usually to deliver other malicious payloads.

Recommendations link link

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 November 1, 2022 through October 30, 2023. 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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