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Sophos Survey: 75% of UAE Organizations Fall Victim to Public Cloud Cybersecurity Incidents

Ransomware and malware, exposed data, compromised accounts, and cryptojacking to blame; GDPR shows promise with Europeans suffering least

According to The State of Cloud Security 2020, a global survey from next-generation cybersecurity leader Sophos, three quarters (75%) of organizations from the UAE experienced a public cloud security incident in the last year – including ransomware (28%), other malware (54%), exposed data (15%), compromised accounts (17%), and cryptojacking (17%). Globally, organizations running multi-cloud environments are greater than 50% more likely to suffer a cloud security incident than those running a single cloud.

Europeans suffered the lowest percentage of security incidents in the cloud, an indicator that compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines are helping to protect organizations from being compromised. India, on the other hand, fared the worst, with 93% of organizations being hit by an attack in the last year.

“Ransomware, not surprisingly, is one of the most widely reported cybercrimes in the public cloud. The most successful ransomware attacks ​​include data in the public cloud, according to the State of Ransomware 2020 report, and attackers are shifting their methods to target cloud environments that ​ cripple necessary infrastructure and increase the likelihood of payment,” said Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist, Sophos. “The recent increase in remote working provides extra motivation to ​disable cloud infrastructure that is being relied on more than ever, so it’s worrisome that many organizations still don’t understand their responsibility in securing cloud data and workloads. Cloud security is a shared responsibility, and organizations need to carefully manage and monitor cloud environments in order to stay one step ahead of determined attackers.”

The Unintentional Open Door: How Attackers Break In
Accidental exposure continues to plague organizations, with misconfigurations exploited in 76% of reported attacks in the UAE. Detailed in the SophosLabs 2020 Threat Report, misconfigurations drive the majority of incidents and are all too common given cloud management complexities. Despite this, only around a quarter of organizations (26%) in the UAE say lack of staff expertise is a top area of concern. Data from Sophos Cloud Optix, a cloud security posture management tool, further reveals that globally 91% of accounts have overprivileged identity and access management roles, and 98% have multi-factor authentication disabled on their cloud provider accounts.

The Silver Lining

Nearly all respondents (98%) from the UAE admit to concern about their current level of cloud security, an encouraging sign that it’s top of mind and important. Appropriately, “Identifying and responding to security incidents” and “data leaks” top the list of security concerns for nearly half of respondents (46% and 46% respectively) followed by managing access to cloud accounts (38%).

About the Survey
The State of Cloud Security 2020 report highlights findings of an independent survey conducted by Vanson Bourne among more than 3,500 IT managers across 26 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa that currently host data and workloads in the public cloud.

The full report, along with a detailed list of cloud security recommendations, is available at https://secure2.sophos.com/en-us/content/state-of-cloud-security.aspx.

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