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.

Cloud

5/6/2019
05:30 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Attackers Add a New Spin to Old Scams

Scammers are figuring out unique ways of abusing cloud services to make their attacks look more genuine, Netskope says.

Cybercriminals have begun abusing legitimate cloud services in new ways to try and sneak attacks past security controls and make their scams appear more convincing to intended victims.

Netskope on Monday said its researchers had observed a recent trend among attackers to send phishing emails and SMS messages with links to malicious sites and content hosted on cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Alibaba Cloud, and Google Docs.

The security vendor says it has seen the technique being used to try and direct users to scam pharmacy sites, dating sites, and tech support sites, designed to steal personal information or for blackmailing victims. In other instances, attackers are abusing Google Docs to create and share presentations that contain malicious links.

The scams themselves are old and well-known. What's new is the use of cloud services to host them.

For cybercriminals, cloud infrastructure services such as AWS and Azure provide a cheap, dynamic hosting option, says Abhinav Singh, threat researcher at Netskope. These services provide all of the native features of the Web, including Web hosting.

"Traditionally, these scams were hosted by registering new domain names or by compromising existing ones," Singh says. "With cloud’s static object stores, you get access to creating an infinite number of domain names with just a few clicks."

An object store on a cloud infrastructure-as-a-service platform (IaaS) is a storage system for storing and delivering content to users. Unlike the case with block storage, content stored in object storage can be accessed via the Web or through APIs.

"When you create an object store, you give it a name, and users access the objects using that name," Singh says. An AWS S3 storage bucket that is named "my-text-bucket," for instance, would be accessible via my-test-bucket dot s3 dot Amazonaws dotcom, he says.

Hosting a malicious site or content in a cloud object store eliminates the need for attackers to have to keep registering domains as existing ones get discovered and blocked. Attackers can simply use a domain generation algorithm and create a new object store and URL as needed and on a continuous basis, Singh said.

Because these malicious sites are hosted on trusted cloud service infrastructure, any links to them appear more genuine to users and are able to bypass content filters at the same time. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that many cloud service providers appear unable to identify and take down fake and malicious sites quickly enough. "Based on our analysis of these scams, we have seen them to be alive and running even weeks after they went live," Singh says.

Growing Trend
According to Netskope, attackers are currently using cloud services largely for hosting well-known and long-running scams targeting individuals. But the same techniques could easily be used to target enterprises that use services such as Google Drive, the security vendor said.

"We believe that the trend of abusing cloud services by attackers is only going to increase in the future," Singh predicts. The use of cloud assets for cryptomining, malware hosting, and phishing is already common, he says.

Organizations need to start educating users about the dangers of blindly clicking on links to cloud services. They also need to put filters and policies in place for detecting and blocking cloud-based attacks, he says. Based on the change in tactics, "it is clear that attackers are trying to adapt to the changing landscape of the Web in order to victimize as many end users as possible," Singh said.

Related Content:

 

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
97% of Americans Can't Ace a Basic Security Test
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  5/20/2019
TeamViewer Admits Breach from 2016
Dark Reading Staff 5/20/2019
How a Manufacturing Firm Recovered from a Devastating Ransomware Attack
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  5/20/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-7201
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-22
CSV Injection was discovered in ProjectSend before r1053, affecting victims who import the data into Microsoft Excel.
CVE-2018-7803
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-22
A CWE-754 Improper Check for Unusual or Exceptional Conditions vulnerability exists in Triconex TriStation Emulator V1.2.0, which could cause the emulator to crash when sending a specially crafted packet. The emulator is used infrequently for application logic testing. It is susceptible to an attack...
CVE-2018-7844
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-22
A CWE-200: Information Exposure vulnerability exists in all versions of the Modicon M580, Modicon M340, Modicon Quantum, and Modicon Premium which could cause the disclosure of SNMP information when reading memory blocks from the controller over Modbus.
CVE-2018-7853
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-22
A CWE-248: Uncaught Exception vulnerability exists in all versions of the Modicon M580, Modicon M340, Modicon Quantum, and Modicon Premium which could cause denial of service when reading invalid physical memory blocks in the controller over Modbus
CVE-2018-7854
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-22
A CWE-248 Uncaught Exception vulnerability exists in all versions of the Modicon M580, Modicon M340, Modicon Quantum, and Modicon Premium which could cause a denial of Service when sending invalid debug parameters to the controller over Modbus.