IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

Increase in emergence of new cloud watering hole attacks

By Shannon Williams
Fri 26 Feb 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

There is an increased adoption of managed infrastructure services and the emergence of new cloud watering hole attacks, according to new research from Accurics.

Of all violations identified, 23% correspond to poorly configured managed service offerings largely the result of default security profiles or configurations that offer excessive permissions.

Accurics, a cloud cyber resilience specialist, has unveiled its latest research, Accurics Cloud Cyber Resilience Report, which highlights security risks identified in cloud native environments. 

As demonstrated by a recent high-profile hack, attackers increasingly strive to leverage weaknesses that enable them to deliver malware to end users, gain unauthorised access to production environments or their data, or completely compromise a target environment. 

This strategy is known as a watering hole attack, and Accurics researchers have seen them emerge in cloud environments where they can cause even more damage. This is partly because development processes in the cloud that leverage managed services are not hidden inside the organisation as they are in on-premise environments in fact, they're largely exposed to the world.

When criminals are able to exploit misconfigurations in development pipelines, it can spell disaster not only for the company but also its customers. To address this risk, enterprises should assume the entire development process is easily accessible, and restrict access to only the users who need it.

"Cloud native apps and services are more vital than ever before, and any risk in the infrastructure has critical implications," says Accurics co-founder, CTO & CISO Om Moolchandani. 

"Our research indicates that teams are rapidly adopting managed services, which certainly increase productivity and maintain development velocity. 

"However, these teams unfortunately aren't keeping up with the associated risks we see a reliance on using default security profiles and configurations, along with excessive permissions," says Moolchandani.

"Messaging services and FaaS are also entering a perilous phase of adoption, just as storage buckets experienced a few years ago. If history is any guide, well start seeing more breaches through insecure configurations around these services."

On average, the research reveals that the mean time to remediate issues (MTTR) for violations is 25 days across all environments a luxury for potential attackers. In this report, MTTR is particularly important as it pertains to drift when configuration changes occur in runtime, causing cloud risk posture to drift from established secure baselines. For drifts from established secure infrastructure postures, the MTTR is 8 days overall.

Even organisations that establish a secure baseline when infrastructure is provisioned will experience drift over time, as happened in another well-publicised breach. While in this case the AWS S3 bucket was configured correctly at the time it was added to the environment in 2015, a configuration change made five months later to fix a problem was not properly reset once the work was complete. This drift went undetected and unaddressed until it was exploited nearly five years later.

The Accurics report also found:

  • Kubernetes users who try to implement role-based access controls (RBAC) often fail to define roles at the proper granularity. This increases credential reuse and the chance of misuse in fact, 35% of the organisations evaluated struggle with this problem.
  • In Helm charts, 48% of problems came about through insecure defaults. Improper use of the default namespace where system components run was the most common mistake, which could give attackers access to the system components or secrets.
  • Identity and Access Management defined through Infrastructure as code (IaC) in production environments was seen for the first time, and more than a third (35%) of the IAM drifts detected in this report originate in IaC. This indicates a rapid adoption of IAM as Code, which could lead to risk of misconfigured roles.
  • Hardcoded secrets represent almost 10% of violations identified; 23% correspond to poorly configured managed services offerings.
  • Of the organisations tested, 10% actually pay for advanced security capabilities that are never enabled.
  • While the average time to fix infrastructure misconfigurations was about 25 days, the most critical portions of the infrastructure often take the most time to fix for example, load-balancing services take an average of 149 days to remedy. Since all user-facing data flows through these resources, they should ideally be fixed the fastest, not the slowest.
  • "Protecting cloud infrastructure requires a fundamentally new approach that embeds security earlier in the development lifecycle and maintains a secure posture throughout," says Moolchandani.

"The cloud infrastructure must be continuously monitored in runtime for configuration changes and assessed for risk.

"In situations where configuration change introduces a risk, the cloud infrastructure must be redeployed based on the secure baseline; this will ensure that any risky changes made accidentally or maliciously are automatically overwritten. 

"With new attacks emerging and ongoing risks continuing to plague organisations, cloud cyber resilience is now more important than ever, and configuration hygiene is critical."

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
Wireless Nation
Wireless Nation, N4L provide 4G network to remote NZ schools
Wireless Nation and Network for Learning (N4L) have rolled out the Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) new 4G network to better connect three Chatham Islands schools.
Story image
Fonterra
Fonterra to use automated guided vehicles by Dematic
New Zealand's dairy giant Fonterra is upgrading its manufacturing facility in Edendale with new automated guided vehicles (AGVs) from Dematic.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Sisense
Data and analytics could be key to higher selling prices in APAC
Sisense's latest report has found that almost half of data professionals in APAC think customised data and analytics can create better selling prices for their products.
Story image
Sustainability
Power at the edge: the role of data centers in sustainability
The Singaporean moratorium on new data center projects was recently lifted, with one of the conditions being an increased focus on power efficiency and sustainability.
Story image
Microsoft
New Relic enters multi-year partnership with Microsoft Azure
New Relic has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help enterprises accelerate cloud migration and multi-cloud initiatives. 
Story image
Sustainability
Grasping the opportunity to rethink the metrics of a sustainable data centre
A data centre traditionally has two distinct operations teams: the Facility Operations team, and the IT Operations team. Collaboration between them is the key to defining, measuring, and delivering long-term efficiency and sustainability improvements.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS announces new products amid cloud portfolio success
Analytics and AI company SAS is deepening its broad industry portfolio with offerings that support life sciences, energy, and martech.
Story image
SaaS
Maintaining secure systems with expectations of flexible work
Most office workers feel they've proved they can work successfully from home, and as much as employers try, things aren't going back to the way they were anytime soon.
Story image
Infrastructure
Nutanix study reveals financial services sector lagging with multicloud adoption
Nutanix has released new research that reveals the financial services sector is lagging behind when it comes to multicloud adoption.
Story image
Attain
Revenue operations is taking centre stage
As the business world continues to evolve, new demands need to be met to keep up with the ever-changing landscape. 
Story image
Ransomware
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Wireless
Cradlepoint expands its Cellular Intelligence capabilities
Cradlepoint has announced additional Cellular Intelligence capabilities with its NetCloud service.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
How to ensure ethical deployment of AI implementations
The increase in automation and machine technology such as AI and machine learning has unlocked a whole new level of scale and service to organisations. 
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
CFOs using digital workers and AI to prevent unnecessary loss
New technology is now allowing CFOs to use digital workers to automate their accounting processes, making it easier for them to avoid unnecessary losses.
Softiron
For every 10PB of storage run on HyperDrive vs. comparable alternatives, an estimated 6,656 tonnes of CO₂ are saved by reduced energy consumption alone over its lifespan. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1,500 cars off the road for a year.
Link image
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
Cybersecurity
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Lightspeed
Lightspeed launches all-in-one marketing platform in A/NZ
ECommerce provider, Lightspeed has launched a new all-in-one marketing solution, Lightspeed Marketing & Loyalty in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
NCSC advisory highlights poor security configurations
The GCSB's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has released a cyber security advisory identifying commonly exploited controls and practices.
Story image
Excel
Could your Excel practices be harming your business?
While Excel has been the de-facto standard for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, is it alone, enough to support organisations in the global marketplace that’s facing rapid changes due to digital transformation?
Story image
Sustainability
Legrand unveils Nexpand, a data center cabinet platform
Legrand has unveiled a new data center cabinet platform, Nexpand, to offer the necessary scalability and future-proof architecture for digital transformation.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Darktrace
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
Supply chain
Jetstack promotes better security with supply chain toolkit
The web-based resource is designed to help organisations evaluate and plan the crucial steps they need to establish effective software supply chain security.
Story image
Digital Transformation
The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare environments and care delivery
The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised the healthcare industry while overcoming staff shortages, social distancing requirements, and lockdowns.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Exabeam
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Vodafone
Vodafone NZ buys remaining stake in retail joint venture
Vodafone New Zealand has purchased the remaining 50% stake in the specialist joint venture (JV) with private equity company Millennium Corp.
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom appeals $2.25 million fine in Vodafone FibreX case
The Commerce Commission has filed an appeal in the High Court against a $2.25 million fine imposed on Vodafone NZ for its offending under the Fair Trading Act.
Story image
Apple
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Customer experience
Research unveils precarious customer loyalty for retailers
New research has found customers are reassessing established brand loyalties as their priorities and behaviours shift.
Story image
Apricorn
Data backup plans inadequate, data still at risk - study
The Apricorn 2022 Global IT Security Survey revealed that while the majority organisations have data backup plans in place, data for many are at risk.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Trading up: It's time to swap core systems for flexible digital applications
This year will see more oranisations planning and commencing high tech renovations that will shake up the way they operate.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.