Microsoft warns of new supply chain attacks by Russian-backed Nobelium group

The cybercrime group behind the SolarWinds hack stays targeted on the worldwide IT provide chain, says Microsoft, with 140 resellers and repair suppliers focused since Could.


Picture: iStock/stuartmiles99

The Russian-backed hacking group liable for the SolarWinds assault has been concentrating on extra corporations with the aim of disrupting the worldwide IT provide chain. In a weblog publish revealed Monday, Microsoft cautioned of recent assaults by Nobelium, revealing that it notified 140 resellers and know-how service suppliers focused by the group. As a part of an ongoing investigation, Microsoft stated it believes as many as 14 of those organizations have been compromised since Could.

SEE: Incident response coverage (TechRepublic Premium)

Recognized for an assault final yr that exploited a safety flaw in community monitoring software program from SolarWinds, Nobelium has these days been concentrating on a unique phase, particularly resellers and different service suppliers that handle cloud providers and different applied sciences for purchasers.

The group’s doubtless aim is to acquire direct entry that resellers should the IT techniques of their prospects. If profitable, Nobelium would then have a strategy to impersonate a know-how supplier and assault its downstream prospects.

“These assaults have been part of a bigger wave of Nobelium actions this summer season,” Microsoft stated. “In reality, between July 1 and October 19 this yr, we knowledgeable 609 prospects that they’d been attacked 22,868 instances by Nobelium, with successful price within the low single digits. By comparability, previous to July 1, 2021, we had notified prospects about assaults from all nation-state actors 20,500 instances over the previous three years.”

SEE: SolarWinds assault: Cybersecurity consultants share classes realized and tips on how to shield what you are promoting (TechRepublic)

Recognized as a part of Russia’s SVR international intelligence service, Nobelium is simply one of many gamers within the Kremlin’s efforts to realize entry to organizations within the know-how provide chain to conduct surveillance. The so-called cyber chilly battle has been heating up in recent times as nation states and teams working on their behalf have launched assaults designed to not solely spy on however destabilize rival governments. The U.S. hasn’t been shy about pointing the finger at Russia and China as two of the primary perpetrators behind a number of key incidents.

The 2020 SolarWinds hack took benefit of a safety vulnerability within the agency’s Orion networking monitor platform. By exploiting this flaw, the attackers had been in a position to monitor inside emails on the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments and compromise different authorities businesses and personal sector corporations world wide, all of whom used the Orion product. Initially, the wrongdoer was publicly recognized as a Russian-backed group; ultimately the U.S. and different entities positioned the blame particularly on Nobelium.

To hold out the newest incidents outlined by Microsoft on Monday, Nobelium employed such methods as phishing campaigns and password spraying, a brute-force tactic by means of which hackers use automated instruments to attempt to receive the passwords of numerous accounts in a single shot. This trick depends on the inclination of individuals to make use of weak passwords or reuse their passwords throughout a number of websites.

“Nobelium is a really persistent adversary,” stated Jake Williams, co-founder and CTO at BreachQuest. “Typically organizations fail to totally remediate incidents, leaving the menace actor entry to the community after the remediation is taken into account full. Nobelium is likely one of the finest within the menace actor ecosystem at remaining undetected after a remediation try. This isn’t a DIY undertaking for many organizations and can doubtless require skilled help to achieve success because of the number of instruments and tradecraft used.”

SEE: SolarWinds-related cyberattacks pose grave threat to authorities and personal sector, says CISA (TechRepublic)

In one other weblog publish revealed Monday, Microsoft issued warnings to cloud service suppliers, organizations that depend on elevated privileges and downstream prospects, all of whom could possibly be susceptible to assaults from Nobelium.

The corporate stated that it found the group concentrating on privileged accounts of service suppliers to maneuver laterally in cloud environments and acquire entry to downstream prospects. Noting that Nobelium did not exploit a safety vulnerability this time because it did within the SolarWinds hack, Microsoft stated the group’s more moderen ways have included provide chain assaults, token theft, API abuse, and spear phishing.

“When cybercriminals discover an assault methodology that works, they keep it up,” stated Panorays CTO and co-founder Demi Ben-Ari. “So it isn’t stunning that the Nobelium menace group, which was liable for the large SolarWinds provide chain assault final yr, is continuous to focus on downstream prospects by means of their service suppliers with a purpose to inflict most harm.”

In its weblog publish, Microsoft issued a number of particular suggestions for cloud suppliers and their prospects, similar to enabling multi-factor authentication, checking exercise logs and eradicating delegated administrative privileges when now not wanted. Microsoft’s suggestions are thorough but additionally time-consuming to implement. That kind of effort poses challenges for a lot of organizations.

“Implementation of a few of the really useful mitigation measures, similar to reviewing, hardening and monitoring all tenant administrator accounts, reviewing service supplier permissions and reviewing auditing logs, ought to be desk stakes for safety in any bigger group,” Williams stated. “Nonetheless, the fact is that the majority organizations are useful resource strapped. This makes complying with these suggestions troublesome for extra organizations.”

However even organizations missing in time, assets or workers can higher safe and shield themselves with some core cyber hygiene practices.

“The excellent news is that organizations will help stop these sorts of assaults by implementing safety finest practices together with enabling MFA and minimizing entry privileges,” Ben-Ari stated. “To perform this quickly and successfully, nonetheless, it is essential to have a sturdy and automatic third-party safety administration program in place to evaluate provide chain companions, shut cyber gaps and constantly monitor for any points.”

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