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Everything You Need To Know About The Recent Adobe Creative Cloud Data Breach
Adobe recently admitted that it made a mistake in configuring its cloud database, resulting in the inadvertent exposure of its Creative Cloud customer information. This latest cyber incident adds to the growing number of misconfigured cloud databases, resulting in the exposure of important customer data.
Last October 25th, Comparitech and security researcher Bob Diachenko reported that Adobe exposed its Elasticsearch database without a password or any other authentication, leaving nearly 7.5 million Adobe Creative Cloud user records open to anyone with a web browser. According to Diachenko, the Elasticsearch database of Adobe was exposed for almost a week. Comparitech and Diachenko said that Adobe secured the database on the same day it was notified about the data exposure.
Adobe, meanwhile, acknowledged that one of its “prototype environments” was “misconfigured,” which resulted in the inadvertent exposure of Creative Cloud customer information, including e-mail addresses. The company said no passwords or financial information were exposed in the said incident. “We are reviewing our development processes to help prevent a similar issue occurring in the future,” Adobe said.
Elasticsearch Database Misconfigurations
Elasticsearch is a software that allows users to index and search textual, numerical, geospatial, structured and unstructured data. This software was first released in 2010 by Elasticsearch N.V., now known as Elastic.
In January 2017, John Matherly reported that 35,000 Elasticsearch databases were exposed on the internet, with most of them deployed on Amazon Web Services (AWS) – a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms. Matherly is the developer of Shodan, a search engine that allows users to find anything connected to the internet, including webcams, routers and servers.
Exposing your organization’s Elasticsearch databases to anyone with a web browser opens your organization to ransomware attacks. In January 2017, security researcher Niall Merrigan reported with the use of Shodan and "crunching some data", he found 4,000 Elasticsearch databases that fell victim to ransomware attacks.
The first report of an Elasticsearch database being hit by ransomware appeared on the official Elastic forum. In a ransomware attack on an Elasticsearch database, data indices are wiped out and replaced with a single index warning that says, “SEND 0.2 BTC TO THIS WALLET: 1DAsGY4Kt1a4LCTPMH5vm5PqX32eZmot4r IF YOU WANT RECOVER YOUR DATABASE! SEND TO THIS EMAIL YOUR SERVER IP AFTER SENDING THE BITCOINS….”
Exposing your organization’s Elasticsearch databases to anyone with a web browser also puts your customers at risk to targeted phishing scams. Attackers, for instance, could create phishing scams that target the Adobe Creative Cloud users whose emails were leaked.
Phishing scams weaponize emails, sending emails to random or targeted individuals, tricking email recipients to open malicious emails that contain malicious links or malicious attachments. Clicking this malicious link or malicious attachment leads to the installation of malicious software (malware) on the email recipient’s computer.
“The information exposed in this leak could be used against Adobe Creative Cloud users in targeted phishing emails and scams,” said Comparitech and Diachenko. “Fraudsters could pose as Adobe or a related company and trick users into giving up further info, such as passwords, for example.”
How to Secure Your Organization’s Elasticsearch Database
Elastic, the company behind Elasticsearch, said that it isn’t responsible for the exposure of sensitive data in internet-facing Elasticsearch. “Recent reports about sensitive data being exposed in Internet-facing Elasticsearch instances are not related to defects or vulnerabilities in Elastic-developed software,” Mike Paquette, security product director at Elastic, told Infosecurity Magazine. “Reports usually involve instances where individuals or organizations have actively configured their installations to allow unauthorized and authenticated users to access their data over the internet.”
Paquette added that Elasticsearch, by default, doesn’t allow outsiders snooping at Elasticsearch database. He said Elasticsearch only communicates to local addresses by default. Paquette said that in case a system administrator wants the Elasticsearch database to be accessed by unauthorized and authenticated users, it has to be configured for this to happen. He added that system administrators often configure Elasticsearch databases to be accessed by unauthorized and authenticated users during testing and then forget to change this configuration during production.
Another reason why Elasticsearch databases keep getting hacked is due to the absence of additional authentication measures such as multi-factor authentication. In the case of Elasticsearch, while its open source features are free, additional features of the software such as multi-factor authentication are available only under the Elastic license and paid subscriptions, which means that organizations have to pay up in order to avail of this extra layer of protection.
Another reason why Elasticsearch databases keep getting hacked is due to the wrong assumption that deployment of Elasticsearch database on AWS protects this database. According to AWS, security of Elasticsearch databases deployed on AWS needs extra work, such as restricting access based on source IP addresses or by locking down access even further based on job functions and roles, such that an “esadmin” has administrator power over the database; “poweruser” has access all domains, but cannot perform management functions; and “analyticsviewer” can only read data from the analytics index.
Critical information, as a rule, shouldn’t be exposed to the public internet. It’s important to practice segmentation when using Elasticsearch database and when deploying this to the public cloud such as AWS. In segmentation, critical information such as those relating to financial information is isolated from the other less sensitive information.
Concerned about cybersecurity posture of your cloud infrastructure? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
Steve E. Driz, I.S.P., ITCP