Attacks growing in both scope and sophistication, exposing gaps in the cloud native toolchain

There’s a growing, organized and increasingly sophisticated pattern of attacks on cloud native infrastructure, according to Aqua Security.

attacks cloud native infrastructure

While most attacks were aimed at abusing public cloud compute resources for cryptocurrency mining, the methods used open the door for higher-value targets that leverage security gaps in container software supply chains and runtime environments.

The report provides trends and observed categories of attacks, but also explains in great detail the specific progression of several attack vectors, from the originating malicious images to the specific evasion techniques, malicious payloads, and propagation attempts.

Attacks on cloud native infrastructure

  • Container images in public registries being poisoned with Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs) that cannot be detected using static scanning. They spring into action only when the container is running.
  • Sophisticated evasion techniques are being used to hide attacks and make them more persistent. This includes the use of “vanilla” images that seem innocuous, disabling other malware, delaying before downloading payloads into the running container, using 64-bit encoding to obfuscate malware, and more.
  • Since the beginning of 2020, the volume of attacks has dramatically increased, suggesting that there is organized infrastructure and systematic targeting behind these attacks. More than 16,000 individual attacks were tracked back to multiple locations across the globe.
  • The main motivation of the malicious actors has been to hijack cloud compute resources to mine for cryptocurrency, but Team Nautilus has seen evidence that other objectives, such as establishing DDoS infrastructure, were also attempted.

“The attacks we observed are a significant step up in attacks targeting cloud native infrastructure. We expect a further increase in sophistication, the use of evasion techniques and diversity of the attack vectors and objectives, since the widespread the use of cloud native technologies makes them a more lucrative target for bad actors,” notes Idan Revivo, Head of Team Nautilus at Aqua.

“Security teams are advised to take the appropriate measures both in their pipelines as well as runtime environments, to detect and intercept such attempts.”




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