What Happened in That Cyberattack? With Some Cloud Services, You May Never Know

More cyberattackers are targeting organizations' cloud environments, but some cloud services, such as Google Cloud Platform's storage, fail to create adequate logs for forensics.

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Major cloud platforms, such as Google Cloud Platform (GCP), fail to adequately log the event data that could facilitate the detection of compromises and the forensic analysis during post-compromise response, according to an analysis. 

Cloud security firm Mitiga stated in an advisory published on March 1 that the Google Cloud Platform allows customers to turn on storage access logs, but faced with an attacker that successfully compromises a legitimate user's identity, the logs fail to provide enough detail, creating forensic visibility gaps.

The security issues include failing to generate dedicated log information for critical actions related to exfiltration, failing to collect detailed information about changes to data, and a general lack of visibility that would give a picture of what happened, the advisory stated.

A variety of events, for example, are included under a single type of access — such as reading a file or downloading data — leaving analysts unclear as to what actually happened, says Veronica Marinov, an incident response investigator with Mitiga and author of the advisory.

"Google Cloud storage logging is missing granular log events," she says. "In the case of interacting with bucket objects, you can’t really differentiate between downloading the object, viewing its content, and just looking at the metadata of the said object."

Related:Cloud Security: Why Understanding Vulnerabilities vs. Threats vs. Risks Matters

As companies move their infrastructure and operations to the cloud, attackers have followed. For instance, the company faced an opportunistic attacker that moved laterally inside a cloud environment to successfully steal sensitive data, only to be stopped by rigorous permissions, according to a report earlier this week.

In its latest annual “Global Threat Report,” cybersecurity services firm CrowdStrike noted that cloud exploitation incidents had increased by 95% in 2022, compared with the previous year, while cloud-conscious threat actors — which the firm defined as those who use "a variety of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to exploit cloud environments" — nearly tripled. The increase in cloud-focused attacks means that companies need to focus on visibility and really understanding the changes being made to cloud environments, says Adam Meyers, head of intelligence at CrowdStrike.

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About the Author(s)

Robert Lemos

Dark Reading, Contributing writer

Robert Lemos is a veteran technology journalist and a former research engineer. He's written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science and Wired News. He has won five awards for journalism and crunches numbers on various trends using Python and R. 

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