Hosting providers seem to be an often overlooked exposure area for many small and mid-size organizations. In the last several weeks, as we have been growing the use of our passive assessment platform for supply chain assessments, we have identified several instances where the web site hosting company (or design/development company) is among the weakest links. Likely, this is due to the idea that these services are commodities and they are among the first areas where organizations look to lower costs.
The fall out of that issue, though, can be problematic. In some cases, organizations are finding themselves doing business with hosting providers who reduce their operational costs by failing to invest in information security.* Here are just a few of the most significant issues that we have seen in this space:
“PCI accredited” checkout pages hosted on the same server as other sites that are clearly under the control of an attacker
Exposed applications and services with default credentials on the same systems used to host web sites belonging to critical infrastructure organizations
Dangerous service exposures on hosted systems
Malware infested hosting provider ad pages, linked to hundreds or thousands of their client sites hosted with them
Poorly managed encryption that impacts hundreds or thousands of their hosted customer sites
An interesting correlation of blacklisted host density to geographic location and the targeted verticals that some hosting providers sell to
Pornography being distributed from the same physical and logical servers as traditional businesses and critical infrastructure organizations
A clear lack of DoS protection or monitoring
A clear lack of detection, investigation, incident response and recovery maturity on the part of many of the vendors
It is very important that organizations realize that today, much of your risk extends well beyond the network and architectures under your direct control. Partners, and especially hosting companies and cloud providers, are part of your data footprint. They can represent significant portions of your risk, and yet, are areas where you may have very limited control.
If you would like to learn more about using our passive assessment platform and our vendor supply chain security services to help you identify, manage and reduce your risk – please give us a call (614-351-1237) or drop us a line (info /at/ MicroSolved /dot/ com). We’d love to walk you through some of the findings we have identified and share some of the insights we have gleaned from our analysis.
Until next time, thanks for reading and stay safe out there!
*Caveat: This should not be taken that information security is correlated with cost. We have seen plenty of “high end”, high cost hosting companies with very poor security practices. The inverse is also true. Validation is the key…
A vulnerability has been discovered in the GRUB2 boot loader that affects versions dating back to 2009. GRUB2 is the default boot loader for a variety of popular Linux distributions including Ubuntu, Red Hat and Debian. The vulnerability can be exploited by pressing the backspace button 28 times when the boot loader asks for your username. This sequence of keys places the user into a “rescue shell”. An attacker could leverage this shell to access confidential data or install persistent malware.
It’s worth noting that the vulnerability requires access to the system’s console. Even if your organization has proper physical security controls in place, this issue should still be addressed as soon as possible. Ubuntu, RedHat and Debian have already released patches for this vulnerability.
Microsoft rates this patch as critical for most Windows platforms running DNS services.
Remote exploits are possible, including remote code execution. Attackers exploiting this issue could obtain Local System context and privileges.
We are currently aware that reverse engineering of the patch has begun by researchers and exploit development is under way in the underground pertaining to this issue. A working exploit is likely to be made available soon, if it is not already in play, as you read this.
One of the most frustrating phrases I’ve heard as an IT professional is, “We’re not a target.”
Using HoneyPoint, I have created “fake companies” and observed how they are attacked. These companies appear to have social media profiles, web pages, email servers and all of the infrastructure you would expect to find within their industry. The companies are in a variety of verticals including but not limited to Financial, Energy, Manufacturing and after analyzing the data collected during this process, I can definitively state that if your company has an internet connection, you’re being targeted by attackers.
Within hours of creating a HoneyPoint company, we typically begin to see low-level attacks against common services. These often involve brute-force attacks against SSH or Telnet. Regardless of the fake company’s industry, we’ve noticed that more complicated attacks begin within days of exposing the services and applications to the internet. These have ranged from the attackers attempting to use complicated exploits to the installation of malware.
During our “fake companies” testing, we even “accidentally” exposed critical services such as MSSQL and LDAP to the internet. The attackers were always vigilant, they often attempted to take advantage of these exposures within hours of the change taking place. One of my favorite moments that occurred during this test was watching how quickly attackers started to use an exploit after it was released. In some cases, we noticed the exploit being used within hours of it becoming public. These are both great examples of why it’s worthwhile to have 3rd parties review your infrastructure for vulnerabilities or misconfigurations on a regular basis.
Even if you don’t think your company has anything to “steal”, you still need to take measures to protect your systems. You might not be protecting PHI or Social Security Numbers but you can’t underestimate the bad guys desire to make money. Even if attackers don’t find any data worth stealing, they’ll always find a way to profit from the exploitation of a system. A great example of this occurred last year when it was discovered that attackers were hacking SANs to install software to mine for cryptocurrency. It’s even been reported that attackers are exploiting MySQL servers just to launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. So, even if your bare metal is worth more than the data it hosts, it doesn’t mean that attackers won’t attempt to use it to their advantage.
If you were involved in the Ashley Madison service, or know someone who was, it might be time to discuss the continuing issues of ongoing blackmail campaigns stemming from the breach. This article appeared this week in SC Magazine, reporting on just such a campaign, that has been potentially identified.
Please be aware that this is happening, and can represent a significant threat, especially for organizations associated with critical infrastructure, IP protection and/or government agencies.
If you, or someone you know, is being harassed or targeted by black mailers, here are some resources:
Want to easily build out a scalable, customizable, easily managed, distributed honey pot sensor array? You can do it in less than a couple of hours with our HoneyPoint Security Server platform.
This enterprise ready, mature & dependable solution has been in use around the world since 2006. For more than a decade, customers have been leveraging it to deceive, detect and respond to attackers in and around their networks. With “fake” implementations at the system, application, user and document levels, it is one the most capable tool sets on the market. Running across multiple operating systems (Linux/Windows/OS X), and scattered throughout network and cloud environments, it provides incredible visibility not available anywhere else.
The centralized Console is designed for safe, effective, efficient and easy management of the data provided by the sensors. The Console also features simple integration with ticketing systems, SEIM and other data analytics/management tools.
If you’d like to take it for a spin in our cloud environment, or check out our localized, basic Personal Edition, give us a call, or drop us a line via info (at) microsolved (dot) com. Thanks for reading!
Just a reminder that MSI testing labs are seeing a LOT more usage lately. If you haven’t heard about some of the work we do in the labs, check it out here.
One of the ways that new clients are leveraging the labs is to have us mock up changes to their environments or new applications in HoneyPoint and publish them out to the web. We then monitor those fake implementations and measure the ways that attackers, malware and Internet background radiation interacts with them.
The clients use these insights to identify areas to focus on in their security testing, risk management and monitoring. A few clients have even done A/B testing using this approach, looking for the differences in risk and threat exposures via different options for deployment or development.
Let us know if you would like to discuss such an approach. The labs are a quickly growing and very powerful part of the many services and capabilities that we offer our clients around the world!