Cloud apps were the biggest source of malware in 2021

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New research claims that cloud applications are now the number one distributor of malware, with Google Drive being the most popular vertical.

A report by Netscope said that two-thirds of all malware distributed in 2021 went through cloud apps. Even though the percentage of malware distributed through cloud apps increased throughout 2020, it remained stable for most of 2021, a trend that Netscope expects to continue this year as well.


Of all the cloud apps used for the distribution of malware, cloud storage apps, such as Google Drive, were the most popular. The report’s authors argue that this is due to the popularity and ease of use provided by these tools. The number of cloud storage services misused to distribute malicious code increased from 93 in 2020 to more than 230 in 2021.

data theft on the way

Google Drive, together with OneDrive, SharePoint, Amazon and Github are the top five most used platforms.

Most of the time, crooks use these cloud platforms to deliver weaponized Office documents. The share of these documents among all malicious files increased from 19% at the beginning of 2020 to 37% at the end of 2021.

The success of Emotet, Dridex, as well as many other “mimics” is to blame for this growth.

Cloud apps are also risky because of the “great resignation”. During 2021, Netscope revealed that people were leaving jobs at twice the rate the previous year (8% in 2021, compared to 4% in 2020). Sometimes, people leaving the company take sensitive data with them, and in the absence of better alternatives, they upload these documents to a cloud storage app.

The report said that between 2020 and 2021, an average of 29% of users downloaded more files from managed corporate instances, while 15% uploaded more files to their individual app instances, all in the last 30 days of employment.

Half of those people uploaded five times more files than they had uploaded, while 8% uploaded 100 times their normal data volume. A small portion (1%) uploaded more than 1000 times their normal data volume, leading Netscope to conclude that there is a “significant and deliberate movement” of data, which is about to drop from users.

  • You might also want to check out our list of the best antivirus solutions available right now

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