Resecurity warns about cyber-attacks on data center service providers

Resecurity warns about the increase of malicious cyber activity targeting data center service providers globally.

According to the detailed report recently released by the California-based cybersecurity company, during September 2021, Resecurity notified several data center organizations about malicious cyber activity targeting them and their customers. Such organizations act as a critical part of the enterprise supply chain and become a juicy target for nation-state, criminal and cyberespionage groups.

The details about this activity have been shared with the affected parties and national computer emergency response teams in China and Singapore respectfully for further analysis and risk mitigation. Further updates received during 2022 and in January 2023 have also been shared with U.S. Law Enforcement due to the significant presence of major Fortune 500 corporations in the observed data sets. Some of these organizations are current customers of Resecurity and were notified at the earliest stage of the campaign development. Many of them interpreted it as a significant risk to their supply chain and initiated further incident response.

In one of the cases reported to CNCERT/CC, it’s likely the initial access was gained via a vulnerable helpdesk module having integration with other applications and systems, this could allow to perform lateral movement in one of the observed episodes. The actor was able to extract a list of CCTV cameras with associated video stream identifiers presumably used to monitor data center environments, as well as credential information related to operators (IT staff at the data center) and customers.

Once the customer credentials were collected, the actor performed active probing to the customer panels aiming to collect information about the representatives of enterprise customers who manage operations at the data center, list of purchased services, and deployed equipment. During the 1st episode of the identified campaign, the actor was also able to collect cellphone and ID card numbers, likely to be used for certain client verifications. After communication with CNCERT around January 24, 2023, the affected organization forced customers to change their passwords. During the 2nd episode of the same campaign, the actor was able to exfiltrate similar records from another data center organization having meaningful footprint in APAC.

In January 2023, via Human Intelligence (HUMINT) sources Resecurity acquired artifacts which may confirm the successful access attempts to customer portals of 10 different organizations, some of which were based in India. Notably, the observed customer portals included several features, typical for data center organizations such as Remote Hands Service (RHS), access permission and material movement. The information about this incident has been shared with CNCERT/CC, Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SingCERT) and law enforcement. Resecurity has reached out to multiple parties (clients under protection and partner organizations) in order to collect feedback about the origin of those credentials – some contacts confirming the use of the credentials have been utilized by them and their IT staff, and that data center was used either for disaster recovery or active operations in the region.

January 28, 2023 – the actor published the stolen data for sale on one of the underground communities in the Dark Web often used by initial access brokers (IABs) and Ransomware groups. Likely, the reason behind this step was in an unexpected, forced password change by the data centers organization dating back to the 1st episode. The 3rd episode of the campaign was related to a U.S. based organization – operating in carrier neutral data center field and software defined data center offerings. Notably, the organization was a client of one of the previously impacted data centers abroad. The information about this episode remains limited compared to the 2 previous episodes, but Resecurity was able to collect several credentials used by IT. February 20, 2023 – the actor published a significant fragment of stolen data at “Breached” underground forum [post 1] [post 2]. 

Most organizations identified in the leaked data sets relate to financial institutions (FIs) with a global presence, investment funds, biomedical research companies, technology vendors, e-commerce, online marketplaces, cloud services, ISPs and CDN providers with HQ in the U.S, the U.K, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and China. The identified campaign may highlight the importance of the international cooperation and proactive threat intelligence sharing due to significant interconnection between data centers which are based in different parts of the world similar to their customers.

Targeting data center organizations creates a significant precedent in the context of supply chain cybersecurity. Resecurity expects attackers to increase malicious cyber activity related to data centers and their customers. Network defenders should evaluate proper measures to mitigate such vectors from both OT and IT supply chain cybersecurity. It’s crucial to have transparent communication with suppliers regarding possible cybersecurity incidents which may involve client accounts and related data.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, data center service providers)

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