Malicious Attacks on Cloud & their Countermeasures

    The cloud environment is perfect to attract wicked hackers and their malicious attacks thought it is not easy to harm and steal data from cloud systems just like that. Yet hackers think it still worth trying because they can steal data from different companies by attacking a single cloud and can spread their malware from company to company easily and infect a large area.

    A report by Microsoft states that in 2017 cloud attacks have increased by 300%. Cloud programs are needed to be protected by new generation solutions invented specifically to protect the cloud environment against these attacks and it is not possible with solely repurposing traditional on-premises perimeter security tools. Outlined below are the cloud-based attacks you need to be aware of to defend your cloud system and even for entrepreneurs who are thinking to adopt cloud need to be aware of these attacks so they can ask the potential cloud service providers to share the plans they use to protect their system against these attacks given below.

    1. Malware injection attack:- the attack is initiated by sneakingly putting malware into the cloud system or it can also be mistakenly uploaded from the user end. The hostile program is designed with the intention of disrupting computing or communication operations, stealing sensitive data, accessing private networks, hijacking system to exploit resources, disabling network servers or devices and to spread the infection from the attacked cloud server to the entire cloud system, its users and furthermore.
    1. Countermeasures: plenty of applications and programs are available in the market that helps to detect and take preventive actions against malware attacks such as anti-malware software, anti-spyware software, spam filters, firewalls, etc. frequent security scans and regular updates can help avoid the situations. 
    • Cloud Abuse:- the indecent use of cloud services for assisting illegal and legally-dubious activities is called cloud abuse. Activities include malware injection, breaking an encryption key, launching DDoS attacks, etc. The open nature of cloud services hosted for every type of users including home users with a free subscription package of limited privileges is enough to cause a loss in business and increase in cost for both service provider and its users.
    1. Countermeasures: strong registration system and abuse detection programs can help in the prevention. The responsibility to combat such abuse often falls to the cloud provider and require payment validation resources, the incident response systems, and other mitigation methods. Users should report any incident of abuse to cloud provider whenever they come across one.
    • Insider attack:- this severe threat to data comes from the inside of the organization who can be in various forms such as current or former employees, contractors, and business partners. Any of them can be responsible either it was done deliberately or mistakenly. The agenda of the attacker can be anything from stealing data to manipulating data for the sake of destroying business infrastructure which can cause serious damage. It can also happen as a mistake because of unawareness if the employees of the organization are not well-trained.
    1. Countermeasures: the prevention need organizational management on every level, segregate users according to their job function by minimizing user access to only what they need, consistently remove former staff credentials from business system, logging, monitoring, and auditing network activity is also a critical step towards prevention.
    • The Hijacking attack:- similar to the typical meaning of hijacking, it is gaining control over a cloud user’s account or cloud service. Hackers have plenty of tricks such as phishing, injecting malware, cloud abuse, spyware, cookie poisoning, etc. Weak credentials can also get your account hacked which can lead to further problems such as ransomware attack, stealing sensitive data from your cloud and other cloud users, disrupting services, communicational operations, accessing private networks, exploiting resources.
    1. Countermeasures: it would need every security measure and practice to be taken either it is tools or program implementation, personnel selection and training, surveillance monitoring, developing attack responding procedure or a team of experts to mitigate such threats.
    • Denial of Service (DoS) attack:- the attempt is to intentionally paralyze the computer networks to prevent users from accessing a service by using a single internet connection to exploit software vulnerabilities and flooding the target with fake requests until making the website go unavailable for legitimate users’ requests. The attack can also be launched through multiple connected devices or an army of computers distributed across the internet and turned into bots to orchestrate the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The nature of cloud resource gives more computational power to the attack. A successful attack can hit an entire online user’s database.
    1. Countermeasures: Ensure all your systems with defensive tools such as firewalls, attack detection program, etc. Develop a response team of experts against DoS/DDoS attacks. Define notification and escalation procedures, secure network infrastructure, practice basic network security and understand the warning signs.
    • Advanced persistent threat:- it’s an attack campaign in which a hacker or team of hackers set an illegal long-term ubiquity on a network with the purpose of mining highly sensitive data. The target of these attacks are usually selective and observed carefully before assault which typically involves large organizations or government networks. The risks can be intellectual property theft, compromised sensitive information, sabotaging of critical organizational infrastructure or total site takeover.
    1. Countermeasures: it requires heterogeneous solutions approach on the part of network administrators, security providers, and individual users. Minimizing the attack surface by whitelisting applications and domains, traffic monitoring, access control, patching vulnerabilities of network software & operating system, preventing intruders by remote connection encryption, filtering incoming emails to prevent spam and phishing attacks, and immediate logging of security events to improve whitelisting and security policies.
    • Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack:- it’s an eavesdropping kind of attack where an unauthorized person secretly monitors and modifies the communication between the two users by blocking a public key message exchange and retransmitting the message while replacing the requested key with his own. The two legitimate parties appear to communicate normally without realizing that the message is received by an unknown person who is trying to access or modify the message before retransmitting it to its rightful receiver.
    1. Countermeasures: Authentication provides some amount of assurance that the message has come from a legitimate source. Tamper detection is a fruitful tool to detect evidence that shows if the message has been altered. All cryptographic systems that are secure against the MITM attacks provide few methods of authentication for messages.
    • Side channel attack:- an attack is a form of reverse engineering. It is based on information of a computer system rather than weakness in the implemented algorithm itself. It requires technical knowledge of the internal operations of the system which is obtained through heat and electromagnetic emissions as both viable sources of information for an attacker. The attack is executed by hackers when they place a malicious virtual machine on the same host as the target virtual machine. The risks involved the users of secure projects as attackers can use side-channel analysis to rebuilt encryption keys to attack the system for financial gain or to gain access to the sensitive data.
    1. Countermeasures: the attacks can be avoided by having a secure system design such as the weak relationship between the leakage values and computing operations done by the targeted system as the release of electromagnetic information can be used to link the information about computing operations. 
    • New Attacks (specter and meltdown):- these new attacks have been recorded last year and became a real threat to cloud computing. The attacker uses malicious JavaScript code to read the encrypted data from the memory by exploiting a design weakness in most modern processors. Both the attacks break the isolation between the applications and the operating system and letting the attacker reaching to the information from the kernel.
    1. Countermeasures: the security vulnerability comes from the processor which can be present in almost every computer. A checklist of systems and programs with vulnerabilities should be made on a regular basis with effective patch up solutions and prioritize remediation efforts to ensure security. Vulnerability detection should be done timely.
    Assolve Tech Team
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