Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White, Kong Yang, John Rauser

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Malware and Cloud Jacking

Although the growth of malware may be flattening, its design sophistication is not.

Malicious software or malware is a security nightmare. One can agree with the statement that malware in the internet is a growing epidemic and is costing industry billions of dollars each year.

According to Microsoft Malware "is short for malicious software and is typically used as a catch-all term to refer to any software designed to cause damage to a single computer, server, or computer network, whether it's a virus, spyware, et al."

Although the growth of malware may be flattening, its design sophistication is not. Per Kaspersky labs approximately 300,000 new malware programs were discovered per day; last year.

Graham Cluley of Sophos Labs stated Sophos "sees in excess of 50,000 new samples daily the vast majority of which are focused on making money."

These days your typical malware agent is designed to conceal itself in an intelligent and proactive/reactive manner from standard AV software.

As we know there are several ways malware can infect a machine e.g. drive by download, infected USB, spoofing, fake anti-virus security products, search engine optimisation (SEO) by drawing internet users to compromised and legitimate websites and infecting their machines as a result etc.

In order to maintain its residence on an infected system/s malware has to either

a)  Adapt legitimate data or program, or programs within the client device, in order to gain control after the audit process has completed or

b) Remain active in RAM or swap space

How does this relate to the cloud? Assuming a capitalizing on the much hyped - scalability and flexibility; a malware agent can potentially forward relevant data into a compromised cloud system, thus capitalizing on the cloud's scalable computational and storage properties.

It can then use this access to "infinite computing power and storage" to compute values needed by the verification authority on the infected  system thereby avoiding detection and possibly moving undetected throughout any array of networks; wreaking undetected havoc as it processes data.

But the cloud is a virtual environment; and virtualization is highly dependent on a hypervisor which is easily verifiable and well protected...right?

Not so much: this premise was in part due to the hypervisor or Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM), initially consisting of a comparatively small code base which had limited interaction with the external world.

However there are known attacks on the hypervisor which could possibly impact the Cloud Computing Ecosystem: two of which are

1. Hyper-jacking: Where an attacker inserts a rogue hypervisor; taking advantage of an assumption that there is a level of difficult for any OS running on the hypervisor to detect an attacker's insertion. This based on the level of privilege at which the hypervisor runs. An attack of this nature can potentially give control of any virtual machine running on the physical server to the attacker e.g. Joanna Rutkowska's Blue Pill rootkit.

2. VM Escape: If a virtual system is compromised by an attacker and via a set software system is able to totally bypass the hypervisor or virtual layer, it is quite possible to get access to the host machine and by this root privileges. For instance a vulnerability vmnat.exe was identified in VMware Workstation, which could be exploited by remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands.

The exploit that enables VM Escape can allow an attack on a specific virtual server to escalate from the virtual server to the underlying user space. An attacker can then gain control of the underlying hypervisor.

Of importance is although such exploits can be used under certain circumstances to cause the host environment to execute arbitrary code, this can only occur with weak security configurations e.g. weak code, unpatched systems.

In terms of the hypervisor code we are seeing a growth in its volume with time e.g. recent attacks on Xen's showed that its code and data can be modified at runtime, allowing backdoor functionality. All known issues were patched however with the growth in the skills and resources within the "hacking enterprises", there should be some concern and planning for risk mitigation within the environment.

A recent study stated that VMware ESX 3.x bare-metal hypervisor exhibited at least 165 known vulnerabilities.

In light of this, a potential cloud customer should get a good working idea of their vendor's security policies, continuity and recovery protocols to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of their data.

References

  1. Virtualization Security. Edward Ray, Eugene Schultz. s.l. : ACM -The Association for Computing Machinery, 2004. 1-58113-000-0/00/0004.
  2. Tim Shelton. [VulnWatch] [ACSSEC-2005-11-25-0VMWare Workstation 5.5.0
  3. Carl Gebhardt, Allan Tomlinson. Security consideration for Virtualization. Egham : Depart of Mathematics Royal Holloway University
  4. Paul Arcenaux. Securing the virtual data center. www.hp.com. [Online] Hewlitt Packard (HP), May 2010.
  5. K.-K. Choo. Organised crime groups in cyberspace: a typology. Trends in Organized Crime, 11(3):270{295, 2008
  6. Network Security April 2010 pgs 8-10

More Stories By Jon Shende

Jon RG Shende is an executive with over 18 years of industry experience. He commenced his career, in the medical arena, then moved into the Oil and Gas environment where he was introduced to SCADA and network technologies,also becoming certified in Industrial Pump and Valve repairs. Jon gained global experience over his career working within several verticals to include pharma, medical sales and marketing services as well as within the technology services environment, eventually becoming the youngest VP of an international enterprise. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford, holds a Masters certificate in Business Administration, as well as an MSc in IT Security, specializing in Computer Crime and Forensics with a thesis on security in the Cloud. Jon, well versed with the technology startup and mid sized venture ecosystems, has contributed at the C and Senior Director level for former clients. As an IT Security Executive, Jon has experience with Virtualization,Strategy, Governance,Risk Management, Continuity and Compliance. He was an early adopter of web-services, web-based tools and successfully beta tested a remote assistance and support software for a major telecom. Within the realm of sales, marketing and business development, Jon earned commendations for turnaround strategies within the services and pharma industry. For one pharma contract he was responsibe for bringing low performing districts up to number 1 rankings for consecutive quarters; as well as outperforming quotas from 125% up to 314%. Part of this was achieved by working closely with sales and marketing teams to ensure message and product placement were on point. Professionally he is a Fellow of the BCS Chartered Institute for IT, an HITRUST Certified CSF Practitioner and holds the CITP and CRISC certifications.Jon Shende currently works as a Senior Director for a CSP. A recognised thought Leader, Jon has been invited to speak for the SANs Institute, has spoken at Cloud Expo in New York as well as sat on a panel at Cloud Expo Santa Clara, and has been an Ernst and Young CPE conference speaker. His personal blog is located at http://jonshende.blogspot.com/view/magazine "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Wooed by the promise of faster innovation, lower TCO, and greater agility, businesses of every shape and size have embraced the cloud at every layer of the IT stack – from apps to file sharing to infrastructure. The typical organization currently uses more than a dozen sanctioned cloud apps and will shift more than half of all workloads to the cloud by 2018. Such cloud investments have delivered measurable benefits. But they’ve also resulted in some unintended side-effects: complexity and risk. ...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
It is ironic, but perhaps not unexpected, that many organizations who want the benefits of using an Agile approach to deliver software use a waterfall approach to adopting Agile practices: they form plans, they set milestones, and they measure progress by how many teams they have engaged. Old habits die hard, but like most waterfall software projects, most waterfall-style Agile adoption efforts fail to produce the results desired. The problem is that to get the results they want, they have to ch...
"We are a monitoring company. We work with Salesforce, BBC, and quite a few other big logos. We basically provide monitoring for them, structure for their cloud services and we fit into the DevOps world" explained David Gildeh, Co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Doug Vanderweide, an instructor at Linux Academy, discussed why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers wit...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
"Loom is applying artificial intelligence and machine learning into the entire log analysis process, from start to finish and at the end you will get a human touch,” explained Sabo Taylor Diab, Vice President, Marketing at Loom Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A look across the tech landscape at the disruptive technologies that are increasing in prominence and speculate as to which will be most impactful for communications – namely, AI and Cloud Computing. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Curtis Peterson, VP of Operations at RingCentral, highlighted the current challenges of these transformative technologies and shared strategies for preparing your organization for these changes. This “view from the top” outlined the latest trends and developments i...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is ...
The financial services market is one of the most data-driven industries in the world, yet it’s bogged down by legacy CPU technologies that simply can’t keep up with the task of querying and visualizing billions of records. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Karthik Lalithraj, a Principal Solutions Architect at Kinetica, discussed how the advent of advanced in-database analytics on the GPU makes it possible to run sophisticated data science workloads on the same database that is housing the rich...
What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...