07Nov
Cathay Pacific: Get Off of My Cloud
Business

Just today, government authorities in Hong Kong launched a formal investigation into the breach to understand if privacy laws were violated. While privacy laws are extremely important, the investigation should also focus on HOW this happened. While post-mortems for any breach is useful, I think this attack highlights a new category of cloud attacks we haven’t seen much before—but will with increasing frequency.

First, a little about Cathay Pacific and their cloud deployment.  Like many, they’ve adopted a multicloud strategy:

“In the past three years, Cathay Pacific has been making a shift away from legacy systems to the cloud,” says Aloysius Cheang, executive vice president for Asia Pacific at the Center for Strategic Cyberspace + Security Science, a U.K. think tank for cyber centric leadership. “It now employs a hybrid cloud as part of its strategy to replace their legacy systems,” he says.

The airline is using software from Redhat to build the underlying open platform infrastructure, and it is using Amazon Web Services to hold customer-facing applications, such as online check-in system, flight schedule, fares and web hosting, as was described during AWS Summit Hong Kong in 2017, Cheang points out. “As a result of these front-end apps, I presume that the customer data will be accessible from these apps which are hosted on AWS,” he says.

Last April, we wrote about the new attack surface that comes with cloud migration. One of the attacks, X-Cloud, seems to have been the attack method deployed against Cathay Pacific. By all measures, it was pretty successful as hackers took, according the headlines, 860,000 passport numbers, about 245,000 Hong Kong identity card numbers, accessed 403 expired credit card numbers and 27 credit card numbers with no card verification value (CVV).

What is a X-Cloud attack?  From our April blog:

Many enterprises are under the impression that they can go easy on security if they don’t host ‘critical workload’ or ‘sensitive data’ resources in the cloud, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Attackers commonly use public clouds to gain entry into on-premise data centers.

Once your organization makes the decision to migrate any workloads into the public cloud, the perimeter of your on-premise data center also extends into that public cloud environment.

So the appropriate defenses are needed but, the security controls used to protect your on-premise data center cannot easily extend into your public cloud environment.

This forces many organizations to adopt a fragmented security posture that is complex to maintain and leaves the door open for attackers. Public cloud workloads can become infected with malware. As the malware replicates and spreads, the attack can easily jump from the public to the private cloud using standard protocols—if there are no lateral defenses in place.

Cathay Pacific style attack patterns

Cathay Pacific moved application front-ends to the public cloud—extending their perimeter into the great beyond.  Many companies discover quickly that you can’t easily keep your old security tools in front of those migrated workloads as it would require them to migrate into the public clouds as well. Congratulations, you have a new attack surface.

In the past, the infrastructure was all on premise and shielded by comprehensive security controls.  With the onset of cloud computing, now if the web tier is extended—how do you protect assets in this contorted, new architecture?

Attackers understand this very well. One typical trick is to breach the web server in AWS and drop a backdoor accessible from the outside.  Then they tell the backdoor to copy all the data from the database, which needs to be accessible to fulfill the web application’s purpose. However, data is typically served in parts dependent on the authenticated user. With that backdoor, the authentication is bypassed, and the web server has access to the whole data set.

What is really important to note here is that even micro segmentation alone (!) wouldn’t protect against such an attack — the web server needs access to the data that it serves.

So Willkommen (I’m Austrian) to the new realities of cloud security. In this new era, we have to break old habits and old ways of thinking rooted in yesterday’s security approach and we have to admit to ourselves that the chokepoint approach won’t work anymore. For the CISO in today’s IT world, the security game has, in many ways, become a whole new model to work with.  In years past, the name of game was “containment – with chokepoints”. It was a tightly controlled world – and CISO’s had the ability to lock it down and only allow dataflows through a select set of avenues.

What is the right way?  Let’s start with some inspiration from Mick:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8HHqUwKdP8

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05Nov
PortSmash attack exploits Intel’s Hyper-Threading architecture to steal your data
Threat Intelligence

On Friday, a new attack called PortSmash was announced.  This attack exploits Intel’s Hyper-Threading architecture to steal your data.
Details here: https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/new-portsmash-attack-allow-attackers-to-steal-encrypted-data/

What do we know so far?

Researchers have uncovered yet another side-channel attack name PortSmash in Intel and AMD CPUs.  All CPUs that have simultaneous multithreading (SMT) architecture and Intel’s Hyper-Threading (HT) technology are affected by the attack.  A PoC code has been published by the researchers to prove this is possible and not just a theory.

For the attack to be successful the malicious code must run on the same CPU core as the legitimate code.  Due to SMT and HT, the code running on one thread can also observe what is happening on other thread, and an attacker could use this behavior to inject malicious code in tandem with legitimate code in order to eavesdrop.  The malicious code will then leak encrypted data in bits and pieces that can be later reconstructed by the attacker.  Intel has released the patch for the same.

What is the Delivery Mechanism?

We are not aware of any delivery mechanism for the malicious code but, from the report it can delivered using regular phishing attack and other mechanisms.

Are Datacenter affected?

Yes, datacenters are affected due to this attack.  The shared model of public datacenter makes this attack quite dangerous: attackers simply rent VMs and run malicious code that run on the same CPU core as the legitimate code to eavesdrop.  Technically, they don’t have to build a delivery mechanism. However, to exploit private datacenter they have to build a delivery mechanism.

 

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25Jun
[Webcast Recap] Cloud Security: Lessons from the Trenches
Threat Management

For a long time now, security has been the number one roadblock for organizations considering a move to the cloud. Once large enterprises started moving their entire infrastructure to the cloud, people started asking questions about security. What to secure, where the vulnerabilities are, and who’s responsible for what? The information gap for such a significant business development is alarming.

On June 19, Alaska Airlines Director of Network and Connectivity Solutions, Brian Talbert, Former Symantec CEO, Enrique Salem, Dimension Data Cyber Security Evangelist, Ami Hofman and ShieldX VP of Product Management, John Parker teamed up to answer the industry’s most critical questions on secure cloud migration best practices and more.

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12Jun
The Rise of Cryptojacking: Effective Detection and Prevention
Threat Intelligence

With the growing popularity of cryptocurrency around the globe, a new form of cybersecurity threat called cryptojacking is becoming a big concern. In late 2017, Malwarebytes reported 8 million daily malware blocks, with each detected incident possibly being cryptojacking. Early this year, CSO listed cryptojacking “gold rush” as the No.1 of Top 5 cybersecurity concerns for 2018.  In response, we need to take a closer look at this threat and how to effectively detect and prevent against cryptojacking attacks.

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17May
Clouds Might be Secure, but There are Blind Spots Too
Threat Intelligence

DATA DISCOVERY: DATA IS EVERYWHERE, KNOW AND PROTECT YOUR DATA

Digital evolution is driving net new challenges for data security. In this rapidly evolving digital world, data is not clearly defined, structured or secured. Today’s businesses continue to be agile and adapt new technologies, like cloud services, to meet the demands of customers. While collecting, storing and protecting data might look like standard operating procedures in legacy environments, businesses often overlook proper data safeguards in the new technology world, especially in the case of non-critical data.

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26Apr
ShieldX at the RSA Innovation Sandbox
Company News

ShieldX at RSA Innovation Sandbox 2018As the RSA Conference kicked off on Monday, April 16th, I was honored to represent ShieldX as one of ten Innovation Sandbox finalists invited to take the spotlight for a three-minute pitch  demonstrating our groundbreaking security technologies to the broader conference community.

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17Apr
Status Report: SX Research Team Reveals New Cloud Security Threats
Stratus Report

In 2005, Gary McGraw and Brian Chess published a taxonomy of code vulnerabilities exploited by attackers.  Today, the “Seven Pernicious Kingdoms” continue to be used by MITRE to classify vulnerabilities. With the onset of cloud computing, it is time to begin a new taxonomy that accounts for attacks on cloud infrastructure.

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05Apr
The ShieldX Serverless Security Philosophy
Technology

Serverless architecture, also known as Function as a Service (FaaS), presents new challenges for securing applications built using this architecture.  FaaS is an event-driven architecture in which a small piece of code is executed on an API call or message.  Various cloud vendors support multi-language (Java, Javascript, python, C#, etc.) FaaS to make it very easy for developers to use.  Additionally, FaaS is attractive for economy and maintenance reasons because the cost is based on the execution time and users don’t have to worry about regular maintenance of web-servers or shared resources. But the architecture introduces challenges in terms of how and where to enforce security controls.

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20Mar
Hot off the Press – ShieldX Networks Selected as Finalist for RSA Conference 2018 Innovation Sandbox Contest!
Company News

 

We at ShieldX Networks are very thrilled to confirm that we have been selected as a finalist in the highly coveted RSA Sandbox Contest. The Innovation Sandbox Contest is an opportunity to spotlight new approaches to information security technology, provides advice and counsel for entrepreneurs, and exposes the RSA Conference community to venture capitalists, industry experts, senior level business practitioners, and thought leaders. Please read RSA’s announcement here:  https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180320005165/en/RSA-Conference-Announces-Finalists-2018-Innovation-Sandbox

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12Dec
Cloud Security Without Compromise
Business

According to the Telegraph, “65% of large businesses reported a cyber breach or attack in the past 12 months. Yet nine out of 10 businesses don’t even have an incident management plan in the event of a cyber breach.”*

We are in the midst of an accelerating technology shift from traditional on-premise solutions to the cloud. As such, there is growing demand to secure migrating workloads, data and assets.  But do IT organizations have the right solutions and the will to catch up and meet this challenge head on?

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About Author

Ratinder Ahuja

Ratinder Ahuja

Founder & CEORatinder leads ShieldX and its mission as its central pivot point, drawing from a career as a successful serial entrepreneur and corporate leader, bringing with him his unique blend of business acumen, industry network and deep technical knowledge.
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