In a world where technology reigns supreme and cyber crime lurks around every digital corner, organizations find themselves locked in a never-ending battle to protect their precious data. From the daring MOVEit vulnerability that left organizations trembling, to the turbulence in the airline industry caused by data breaches, and even a ransomware attack on a tech titan. Buckle up and get ready to explore these hair-raising incidents that prove cybersecurity is no joke in the fast-paced digital age. It’s time to dive into the data breaches and cyber attacks that organizations faced in June 2023.
Recently, a significant incident involving the MOVEit vulnerability and data extortion has had a global impact on numerous organizations. Exploiting a vulnerability in Progress Software’s widely-used MOVEit file transfer application, criminals targeted organizations, particularly those within supply chains utilizing the app, resulting in data breaches and the theft of customer and/or employee data.
In more detail, Progress Software Corporation, a company specializing in software and services for user interface development, devops, and file management, issued a warning to its customers regarding a critical vulnerability called CVE-2023-34362. The vulnerability affects the MOVEit Transfer and MOVEit Cloud products, which provide a secure and convenient way to store and share files within teams, departments, companies, and supply chains. MOVEit Transfer’s web-based front end, designed to simplify file sharing and management through a web browser, was discovered to have a SQL injection vulnerability. This vulnerability occurs when an HTTP request sent to a web server is improperly converted into a database query, leaving the server open to manipulation. Attackers can inject malicious commands through URLs, potentially leading to data loss or unauthorized access. Progress Software released patches for the affected versions of MOVEit, but unauthorized commands may have been injected before the patch, resulting in data compromise. To mitigate the risk, Progress recommends ensuring that all instances of MOVEit software are patched, disabling the web-based interfaces if patching is not immediately possible, monitoring logs for suspicious activities, and adopting secure programming practices such as input sanitization and parameterized queries to prevent SQL injection attacks.
Additional Victims of the MOVEit Hack:
The total number of impacted organizations has come to over 130, affecting over 16 million individuals. Brett Callow, a threat analyst at cybersecurity firm Emsisoft, has so far identified around 138 organizations that have fallen victim to the campaign, resulting in the compromise of personal information for over 15 million people. It is expected that these numbers will rise as more victims come forward. The cybercrime group, believed to have ties to Russia and known for their use of the Cl0p ransomware, has claimed responsibility for the attack. They boast being the sole threat actor aware of the MOVEit zero-day exploit before it was patched. Recently, they have started naming organizations that have refused to pay their ransom demands or engage in negotiations.
Their list includes notable entities such as Shell, Siemens Energy, Schneider Electric, UCLA, Sony, EY, PwC, Cognizant, AbbVie, Kirkland & Ellis, and K&L Gates. Siemens Energy and Schneider Electric have confirmed being targeted. UCLA acknowledged the exploitation of the vulnerability but clarified that it does not classify the incident as a ransomware attack, likely because no file-encrypting malware was employed and there is no evidence of other system compromises on campus. Government organizations, including the US Department of Energy and the Health Department, have also been affected. The New York City Department of Education, the Oregon DMV, the National Student Clearinghouse, and associated schools have reported being victims as well. The cybercriminals, however, claimed on their website that they have deleted data from over 30 government-related organizations as their focus is purely financial and not interested in such entities. Gen Digital, the parent company of renowned cybersecurity brands including Avast, Avira, AVG, Norton, and LifeLock, has also officially acknowledged that the personal information of its employees was compromised during the recent MOVEit ransomware attack.
As you can tell, this recent MOVEit data breach has had a domino effect. The personal information of approximately 769,000 retired members of CalPERS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. The breach also affected 415,000 members and beneficiaries of CalSTRS, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. The breach was reported by CalPERS after their third-party vendor, PBI Research Services, discovered a vulnerability in their MOVEit Transfer Application. The vulnerability allowed unauthorized access to sensitive data such as names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and even the names of family members of the affected members. CalPERS is the largest public pension fund in the United States, serving over 2 million members in its retirement system and more than 1.5 million in its health program. CalSTRS, on the other hand, is the second-largest public pension fund in the country and the largest retirement system for teachers, serving more than 947,000 members.
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, two major global airlines, have recently reported data breaches resulting from a security incident involving Pilot Credentials, a third-party vendor responsible for managing pilot applications and recruitment portals for multiple airlines. Both airlines were notified about the incident on May 3, clarifying that the breach was limited to the systems of the third-party vendor and did not impact their own networks or systems. The unauthorized individual behind the breach gained access to Pilot Credentials’ systems on April 30 and stole documents containing information submitted by certain applicants during the pilot and cadet hiring process.
American Airlines stated that the breach affected 5,745 pilots and applicants, while Southwest reported a total of 3,009 affected individuals. The compromised data included personal information such as names, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, passport numbers, dates of birth, Airman Certificate numbers, and other government-issued identification numbers. It’s worth noting that American Airlines has experienced previous data breaches, including one in September 2022 resulting from a phishing attack and another in March 2021 due to a breach in SITA’s Passenger Service System, which affected multiple airlines globally.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC):
The world’s largest contract chipmaker, has confirmed a data breach after being targeted by the LockBit ransomware gang. The gang, linked to Russia, listed TSMC as a victim and demanded a $70 million ransom. TSMC stated that the breach did not impact its business operations or compromise customer information. The incident originated from a cybersecurity breach at one of TSMC’s IT hardware suppliers, Kinmax Technology. TSMC terminated its data exchange with Kinmax and assured that customer information remains secure. Kinmax also apologized for the incident and indicated that other customers may have been affected. The breach follows recent arrests related to LockBit ransomware attacks. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), a major semiconductor supplier for Apple, recently attributed a data breach and subsequent $70 million ransom demand from the LockBit ransomware group to a third-party IT hardware supplier. TSMC confirmed the security incident but refrained from disclosing the specific data accessed or held for ransom by LockBit actors. The company assured that the breach did not impact its business or customer information. TSMC identified the third-party supplier as Kinmax Technology, an Hsinchu-based systems integrator known to collaborate with various technology companies. It remains uncertain if other customers were affected by the attack.
The National Hazard Agency, a subgroup of LockBit, set a deadline of August 6 for TSMC to pay the ransom, threatening to publicly release the stolen data. The threat actors also claimed to possess “points of entry” to TSMC’s network, along with login credentials, which are valuable to cyberattackers. TSMC reported robust financial figures for 2022, making it an enticing target. Following the incident report, TSMC conducted a thorough review of its hardware components and security configurations, discontinuing data exchange with Kinmax and reinforcing security measures. The company emphasized its commitment to raising security awareness among suppliers and ensuring compliance with its security requirements.
Kinmax, the implicated IT supplier, downplayed the breach, stating that the intruder accessed system installation preparation information in the engineering test environment, which was unrelated to customers’ actual applications. Kinmax expressed regret and extended apologies to affected customers, mentioning enhanced security measures implemented to prevent future incidents.
TSMC’s breach highlights the growing trend of third-party compromises leading to data breaches in various organizations. It coincides with reports of organizations falling victim to the Cl0p ransomware gang due to a vulnerability in the widely used MOVEit Transfer app by Progress Software. The Biden administration’s cybersecurity executive order in May 2021 has underscored the significance of securing IT supply chains.
In early June 2023, Microsoft encountered a surge in traffic that affected the availability of some services. To address this issue, Microsoft promptly launched an investigation and began monitoring ongoing Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) activity conducted by a threat actor known as Storm-1359. These attacks seem to rely on the utilization of multiple virtual private servers (VPS), rented cloud infrastructure, open proxies, and DDoS tools. No evidence suggests that customer data has been accessed or compromised during these recent DDoS attacks. The focus of these DDoS attacks was primarily on layer 7 rather than layer 3 or 4. To enhance customer protection against similar DDoS attacks, Microsoft has fortified its layer 7 defenses by optimizing the Azure Web Application Firewall (WAF). While these measures have proven effective in mitigating most disruptions, Microsoft consistently evaluates the performance of its defenses and incorporates lessons learned to further refine and enhance their effectiveness.
Customers are advised to review the technical details and recommended actions provided in this blog to bolster the resilience of their environments and mitigate the impact of comparable attacks.
Microsoft’s assessment reveals that Storm-1359 possesses a collection of botnets and tools that enable the threat actor to launch DDoS attacks from various cloud services and open proxy infrastructures. Storm-1359 appears to be primarily focused on causing disruption and gaining publicity.
Storm-1359 has been observed employing different types of layer 7 DDoS attack traffic, including:
HTTP(S) flood attack: This attack exhausts system resources by inundating them with a high volume of SSL/TLS handshakes and HTTP(S) requests. The attacker distributes a large number of HTTP(S) requests from different source IPs across the globe, overwhelming the application’s backend and depleting compute resources (CPU and memory).
Cache bypass: This attack attempts to bypass the Content Delivery Network (CDN) layer, potentially overwhelming the origin servers. The attacker sends a series of queries against generated URLs, causing the frontend layer to forward all requests to the origin instead of serving cached content.
Slowloris: In this attack, the client establishes a connection with a web server, requests a resource (e.g., an image), but intentionally fails to acknowledge or accepts the download slowly. This forces the web server to keep the connection open and retain the requested resource in memory.
Recommendations – Layer 7 DDoS Protection Tips:
To mitigate the impact of layer 7 DDoS attacks, Microsoft recommends that customers consider the following measures:
Utilize layer 7 protection services like Azure Web Application Firewall (WAF) (available with Azure Front Door, Azure Application Gateway) to safeguard web applications.
When using Azure WAF:
Employ the bot protection managed rule set, which provides defense against known malicious bots. For more information, refer to the configuration instructions for bot protection.
Block IP addresses and ranges that you identify as malicious. Examples of how to create and use custom rules can be found in the provided resources.
Consider blocking, rate limiting, or redirecting traffic from outside or within defined geographic regions to a static webpage. Refer to the examples in the provided resources for more information on creating and using custom rules.
Create custom WAF rules that automatically block and rate limit HTTP or HTTPS attacks with known signatures.
Des Moines Public Schools is currently contacting approximately 6,700 individuals to inform them about a data security event that occurred earlier this year. This incident, which occurred in January, involved a cyberattack on the school district and may have led to the potential exposure of personal information belonging to those affected.
The cyberattack on DMPS also involved a ransom demand. However, in accordance with the advice of cybersecurity experts and considering the best interests of the school district and community, no ransom has been or will be paid in response to this attack.
And speaking of schools, the university of Manchester also recently disclosed a breach. In the week starting on June 6th, the University received news of a cyber incident, where unauthorized individuals gained access to certain systems and likely copied data. Our dedicated team of experts, both internal and external, is diligently working day and night to address this incident and determine the extent of the data accessed. Our main focus is to swiftly resolve this situation and promptly inform those affected. We are allocating all possible resources towards achieving these objectives.
Cybersecurity is Essential:
The incidents surrounding MOVEit, American Airlines, TSMC and Microsoft serve as stark reminders of the importance of cybersecurity in our fast-paced digital age. These incidents underscore the serious and ongoing nature of cybersecurity threats, reminding organizations to remain vigilant, strengthen their defenses, and prioritize the safeguarding of valuable data in the digital landscape.