Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

Misconfigured Containers Again Targeted by Cryptominer Malware

An attack group is searching for insecure containers exposing the Docker API and then installing a program that attempts to mine cryptocurrency. It's not the first time.

Attackers are searching for containers that expose a misconfigured port for the Docker API to add another container to do their bidding and run malicious code to mine cryptocurrency, container security firm Aqua Security stated in an April 3 advisory. 

The campaign appears to target containers that allow Docker commands to be executed without authentication, with — in some cases — more than a hundred scans targeting each IP address on the Internet every day. A search using the port-scanning service Shodan revealed that some 6,000 IP addresses may have vulnerable installations of Docker, says Idan Revivo, head of cybersecurity research for Aqua Security.

"We can't say from those 6,000 images how many are infected for sure, but we can see from the volumes that this is a very aggressive attack," he says. "Someone is putting a lot of effort into scanning the Internet on a daily, and perhaps hourly, basis."

Docker instances that have an unprotected port are used to instantiate a container running Ubuntu Linux, install a download utility, and then execute a 600-line program written in the Go programming language. The script attempts to turn off security, stop any competing cryptominers, and download the malicious cryptominer known as "Kinsing." 

The Kinsing malware is the latest attack on unsecured and misconfigured Docker containers. In October, another attack, dubbed Graboid, used a similar attack to download malicious images from the Docker Hub. The images would run a cryptominer to attempt to generate Monero cryptocurrency for the attacker.

The Kinsing attack is arguably a more sophisticated attempt to turn clusters of containers in cryptomining server farms. One of the scripts downloaded by the Kinsing malware includes the ability to search for potentially vulnerable containers on the same Docker network. The program looks at the past history of commands, a list of other trusted computers, and in other files to identity targets in the current container's network. 

"Using the information gathered, the malware then attempts to connect to each host, using every possible user and key combination through SSH, in order to download the aforementioned shell script and run the malware on other hosts or containers in the network," Gal Singer, a security researcher with Aqua Security, said in the company's analysis.

While the attacks are not attempting to delete data or damage the systems of the victims, they do consume a great deal of computing power, running up the bill for the owner of the container cluster.

Unlike Graboid, which downloaded a custom-made malicious image, Kinsing downloads a Ubuntu Linux image to sidestep basic blacklists that might otherwise block a malicious image from being instantiated as a container.

"Some companies are doing blacklisting and whitelisting of images, and Ubuntu and Alpine [Linux] are the two most common images," Revivo says. "So by using an image that is whitelisted to fetch the payload, they are working around the security."

Three different IP addresses are currently used as part of the attack. 

Aqua Security recommends that cloud administrators and DevSecOps teams identify and review their cloud resources, using automated testing to prevent misconfigurations, and investigate logs for anomalies. As part of its analysis, the company mapped the different components of the attack on the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a catalog of techniques used by attackers during their operations.

"This attack stands out as yet another example of the growing threat to cloud native environments," Singer stated in the advisory. "With deployments becoming larger and container use on the rise, attackers are upping their game and mounting more ambitious attacks, with an increasing level of sophistication."

Related Content

Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's top story: "This Is Not Your Father’s Ransomware."

Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Manchester United Suffers Cyberattack
Dark Reading Staff 11/23/2020
As 'Anywhere Work' Evolves, Security Will Be Key Challenge
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/23/2020
Cloud Security Startup Lightspin Emerges From Stealth
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/24/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20934
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel before 5.2.6. On NUMA systems, the Linux fair scheduler has a use-after-free in show_numa_stats() because NUMA fault statistics are inappropriately freed, aka CID-16d51a590a8c.
CVE-2020-29368
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in __split_huge_pmd in mm/huge_memory.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.5. The copy-on-write implementation can grant unintended write access because of a race condition in a THP mapcount check, aka CID-c444eb564fb1.
CVE-2020-29369
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in mm/mmap.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.11. There is a race condition between certain expand functions (expand_downwards and expand_upwards) and page-table free operations from an munmap call, aka CID-246c320a8cfe.
CVE-2020-29370
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in kmem_cache_alloc_bulk in mm/slub.c in the Linux kernel before 5.5.11. The slowpath lacks the required TID increment, aka CID-fd4d9c7d0c71.
CVE-2020-29371
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in romfs_dev_read in fs/romfs/storage.c in the Linux kernel before 5.8.4. Uninitialized memory leaks to userspace, aka CID-bcf85fcedfdd.