Researchers Detect New Attacks Against MySQL Database

February 28, 2017 @ 11:30 AM
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2 min read

In January, security researchers reported that MongoDB servers had sustained disastrous wave of attacks. Now, analysts from GuardiCore believe they have discovered a similar campaign affecting MySQL databases.

MySQL Database Goes the Way of MongoDB

Though these particular MongoDB databases may have either been badly configured or not configured at all to be public-facing, the January strike was still a new and virulent kind of attack. Eventually, it spread to an estimated 30,000 databases. The ransomware in question demanded 0.2 bitcoin for victims to recover their data.

SecurityWeek reported that the same sort of ransomware spread to attack ElasticSearch clusters, Hadoop and CloudDB databases. Worse, the attackers might simply delete the stolen data rather than return it, even if the ransom is paid. Researchers also found that multiple actors compete within the same database to have the most current ransom note and thus receive payment.

How the Attack Works

A more detailed account of the attack was posted on GuardiCore’s blog. The security firm reported that cybercriminals first search for servers that are secured with weak passwords. Then they try to brute-force these servers to gain a foothold, followed by elevated access. Once in all the way, the actors replace the database contents with their own table, which includes a ransom note.

The threat actors appeared to use many of the same techniques in this campaign as they did in January’s MongoDB attacks. Their multiple overwriting method, in particular, has proven to be extremely destructive. Additionally, GuardiCore said it found no evidence of data dumps or data exfiltration during any of the MySQL attacks they monitored, which means the attackers made no attempt to save prior data.

Looking for Low-Hanging Fruit

Mitigation comes, in this case, from using strong passwords and mandatory authentication for any internet-facing systems. Brute-force is a rather inefficient attack method, and cybercriminals who employ this technique are almost always looking for low-hanging fruit.

Users and organizations can vastly improve their security postures by conducting simple password audits and following basic online security best practices.

Larry Loeb
Principal, PBC Enterprises

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE mag...
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