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New Threat Report Illustrates Need For Safe Enablement Of SaaS Applications
Posted: Tue Oct 06, 2015 03:27:13 PM

Palo Alto Networks

SANTA CLARA, Calif., October 6, 2015 – Palo Alto Networks® (NYSE: PANW), the next-generation security company, today announced the latest edition of its Application Usage and Threat Report (AUTR) completed by the Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 Threat Intelligence team.

The report, based on data from more than 7,000 enterprises worldwide, showcases real-world trends in enterprise application usage and critical developments in how attackers are attempting to infect organizations. It also offers practical recommendations for preventing cyberattacks.

Findings highlight the explosion in adoption of software as a service (SaaS) based applications, with the potential to introduce new security risks, or allow unauthorized access to sensitive data. Through the report, security organizations also gain insight into how long-standing and common attack vectors, such as email and executable files, continue to present challenges, as well as global application usage trends for high-risk categories, such as remote access applications.

Key Findings

  • SaaS-based applications explode in popularity – The number of SaaS-based applications observed on enterprise networks has grown 46 percent from 2012 to 2015, and now includes more than 316 applications.
  • Email attachments continue their toxicity – Over 40 percent of email attachments were found to be malicious.
  • Remote access application usage is widespread – There are currently 79 unique remote access applications in use worldwide, which are commonly used by cyberattackers during the course of their operations.
  • Tragedies in the news or headline news turned into attack vectors – On average, there was a six-hour gap between a breaking news story and when it was used to deliver a spear phishing or spam or Web attack.
  • Prominent adversary profiles exposed – Three threat actors: Carbanak (Russia/Ukraine), Sandworm (Russia), and Shell Crew (China) have been identified as groups that are engaged in cyberespionage and cybercriminal activity targeting government and business organizations throughout Europe and North America.


“At Palo Alto Networks, we believe that the sharing of cyberthreat intelligence benefits society as a whole, and that belief is the motivation behind the publication of our annual Application Usage and Threat Report. The better informed cybersecurity professionals are about how attackers are exploiting applications to compromise networks, the more likely they will be able to identify attacks and take action to stop them before their networks are compromised.” - Ryan Olson, intelligence director, Unit 42 at Palo Alto Networks

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