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Press Release

Generative AI app usage increases by 400% among enterprise employees, finds Netskope

Press Release by Netskope Wed 17 Jan 2024

Netskope has revealed in its annual Cloud & Threat Report that Generative AI app usage among enterprise employees has risen significantly.

More than 10% of employees are accessing these apps monthly, compared to just 2% a year ago. This surge in adoption brings emerging security risks.

In 2023, ChatGPT was the most popular Generative AI application, accounting for 7% of enterprise usage.

Social Engineering and Threat Landscape in 2023

The report highlights that social engineering attacks, particularly phishing, were the most common way attackers gained initial access in 2023.

Users were three times more likely to fall for phishing scams than download trojans. Netskope’s study also notes an increase in cloud app interactions, with the average number of apps accessed by enterprise users growing by 19% per year.

“With growing AI app usage, employees are more likely to expose sensitive data like credentials, personal information, or intellectual property,” said Ray Canzanese, Threat Research Director at Netskope Threat Labs.

Netskope expects the total number of users accessing AI apps in the enterprise to continue rising moderately in 2024, meanwhile there is an emerging population of power users who are steadily growing their use of Generative AI apps.

With use currently growing exponentially, the top 25% of users can be expected to increase Generative AI activity significantly in 2024, as this group finds new ways to integrate the technology into their daily lives.

“For safe enablement of AI apps, organisations must implement reasonable controls and advanced data security capabilities while focusing on how employees can use AI productively,” added Canzanese.

Adversaries Leveraging Cloud Apps

The number of cloud apps the enterprise accessed increased by an average of 19% per year, with users jumping from 14 to 20 different apps in just two years.

Half of all enterprise users interact with between 11 and 33 cloud apps each month, with the top 1% using more than 96 apps per month.

Interactions with these cloud apps are increasing at an even faster rate, from just over 1,000 activities per month two years ago to nearly 2,000 activities per month today.

At the same time, adversaries are increasingly exploiting the enterprise’s adoption of cloud apps, mainly through social engineering tricks.

The most widespread schemes in 2023 used social engineering attacks like phishing to steal credentials and Trojans to trick victims into downloading and installing malware.

Users fell for phishing scams three times more frequently than users downloaded trojans, with an average of 29 out of every 10,000 enterprise users clicking on a phishing link each month in 2023.

As the second most common attack vector, users downloaded an average of 11 trojans per month per 10,000 users, meaning a typical organisation of that size would have had an average of 132 trojans downloaded by users on their network per year.

Cloud apps and shopping sites were among the top targets throughout the year, while banking portals, social media and government targets also saw a notable increase.

Netskope identified the top criminal and geopolitical threat groups targeting their customers in 2023, with significant activity from groups based in Russia and China. Geopolitical adversaries most active against users in Asia, especially Singapore, and Latin America.

“In 2023, we saw adversaries taking advantage of the enterprise’s increasing adoption of cloud apps, especially through social engineering tricks. This trend is likely to continue in 2024,” said Canzanese.

Recommendations for Organisations

Netskope advises organisations to limit access to apps serving legitimate business purposes and invest in reducing social engineering risks through. This includes security awareness training and anti-phishing technology.

Users should limit access to only those apps that serve a legitimate business purpose, create a review and approval process for new apps, and implement a continuous monitoring process that will alert security operators when apps are being misused or have been compromised.

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