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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/10/2020
Researcher Finds New Office Macro Attacks for MacOS
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  8/7/2020
Digital Clones Could Cause Problems for Identity Systems
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  8/8/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-8913
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-12
A local, arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the SplitCompat.install endpoint in Android's Play Core Library versions prior to 1.7.2. A malicious attacker could create an apk which targets a specific application, and if a victim were to install this apk, the attacker could perform a dir...
CVE-2020-7029
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-11
A Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerability was discovered in the System Management Interface Web component of Avaya Aura Communication Manager and Avaya Aura Messaging. This vulnerability could allow an unauthenticated remote attacker to perform Web administration actions with the privileged ...
CVE-2020-17489
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-11
An issue was discovered in certain configurations of GNOME gnome-shell through 3.36.4. When logging out of an account, the password box from the login dialog reappears with the password still visible. If the user had decided to have the password shown in cleartext at login time, it is then visible f...
CVE-2020-17495
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-11
django-celery-results through 1.2.1 stores task results in the database. Among the data it stores are the variables passed into the tasks. The variables may contain sensitive cleartext information that does not belong unencrypted in the database.
CVE-2020-0260
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-11
There is a possible out of bounds read due to an incorrect bounds check.Product: AndroidVersions: Android SoCAndroid ID: A-152225183