A group of sophisticated hackers slammed Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers. The hackers established a rootkit that let them manually command the servers and directed sensitive stolen corporate date to its home servers C2 (command and control). The attackers breached a variety of Windows and Linux OS within the AWS data center.
A recent report published by Sophos (from Britain) last week has raised doubts and suspicions among the cybersecurity industry.
According to Sophos reports, the hackers were able to avoid Amazon Web Services SG (security groups) easily. Security Groups are supposed to work as a security check to ensure that no malicious actor ever breaches the EC2 instance (it is a virtual server used by AWS to run the application).
The anonymous victim of this attack had already set up a perfectly tuned SG. But due to the rootkit installed in AWS servers, the hackers obtained remote access meanwhile the Linux OS was still looking for inbound connections, and that is when Sophos intervened.
Sophos said that the victim could have been anyone, not just the AWS.
The problem was not with AWS, this piggybacking method could have breached any firewall, if not all. According to cybersecurity experts’ conclusion, the hackers are likely to be state-sponsored. The incident is named as “Cloud Snooper.” A cybersecurity expert even termed it as a beautiful piece of work (from a technical POV). These things happen all the time, it only came to notice because it happened with a fancy organization, he says. There are still unanswered questions about the hack, but the most important one that how the hackers were able to manage this attack is cleared.
About the attack
“An analysis of this system revealed the presence of a rootkit that granted the malware’s operators the ability to remotely control the server through the AWS SGs. But this rootkit’s capabilities are not limited to doing this in the Amazon cloud: It also could be used to communicate with, and remotely control, malware on any server behind any boundary firewall, even an on-premises server.
By unwinding other elements of this attack, we further identified other Linux hosts, infected with the same or a similar rootkit,” said Sophos.