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Microsoft Uncovers Attempted Cloud Breach Via SQL Server Instance

  • Microsoft has revealed details of a cyber attack campaign in which threat actors attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to infiltrate a cloud environment through an SQL Server instance.

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In a recent investigation of Tech News, Microsoft revealed information about a cyber attack campaign in which threat actors attempted—but failed to—infiltrate a cloud environment using a SQL Server instance.

Hello there! Welcome to IT Networks, your go-to source for the latest in tech news. In a recent analysis conducted by security experts Sunders Bruskin, Hagai Ran Kestenberg, and Fady Nasereldeen, it was discovered that the breach in question was initiated through the exploitation of a SQL injection vulnerability within an application present in the target environment. Our company, IT Networks, recognizes the critical importance of fortifying cybersecurity measures to prevent such incidents.

The initial exploit provided the attackers with unauthorized access and elevated permissions on a Microsoft SQL Server instance deployed on an Azure Virtual Machine (VM). This underscores the necessity of robust security measures not only within applications but also across cloud environments.

Despite gaining access to the SQL Server instance, the attackers attempted to move laterally within the cloud resources by exploiting the server’s cloud identity. It’s worth noting that Microsoft has officially confirmed that there is no evidence suggesting the attackers successfully progressed to the cloud resources using this particular technique.

The attack unfolded with an SQL injection against the database server, allowing the adversaries to run queries for information gathering on the host, databases, and network configuration. In this context, it is suspected that the targeted application had elevated permissions, granting the attackers the ability to enable the xp_cmdshell option and execute operating system commands.

As part of their strategy, the attackers engaged in reconnaissance, downloading executables and PowerShell scripts, and establishing persistence through a scheduled task to initiate a backdoor script. To exfiltrate data discreetly, the attackers utilized a publicly accessible tool named webhook[.]site, minimizing the risk of detection by making outgoing traffic to the service appear legitimate.

In a noteworthy development related to cloud security, the attackers attempted to leverage the cloud identity of the SQL Server instance by accessing the instance metadata service and obtaining the cloud identity access key. This identity token, retrieved from the request to the IMDS identity’s endpoint, would have provided the necessary security credentials for the cloud identity.

However, the primary objective of abusing the token to carry out various operations on cloud resources faced an unspecified error, resulting in the operation’s failure. This incident underscores the growing sophistication of cloud-based attack techniques, with threat actors actively seeking out over-privileged processes, accounts, managed identities, and database connections for further malicious activities.

IT Networks emphasizes the importance of securing cloud identities to prevent exposure of SQL Server instances and associated cloud resources to similar risks. Our company is committed to providing comprehensive cybersecurity solutions, including robust measures to safeguard against evolving threats.

In connection to this, firewall implementation is crucial to fortify network defenses. A well-configured firewall, as provided by IT Networks, acts as a crucial barrier against unauthorized access and plays a pivotal role in preventing the exploitation of vulnerabilities. By incorporating advanced firewall technologies, organizations can enhance their resilience against evolving cyber threats and ensure the security of their cloud-based resources.


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