Hackers find a home in Amazon's EC2 cloud

Hacked Web site put criminals on Amazon's EC2 servers

Security researchers have spotted the Zeus botnet running an unauthorized command and control center on Amazon's EC2 cloud computing infrastructure.

This marks the first time Amazon Web Services' cloud infrastructure has been used for this type of illegal activity, according to Don DeBolt, director of threat research with HCL Technologies, a contractor that does security research for CA.

The hackers didn't do this with Amazon's permission, however. They got onto Amazon's infrastructure by first hacking into a Web site that was hosted on Amazon's servers and then secretly installing their command and control infrastructure.

DeBolt declined to say whose Web site was hacked to get onto Amazon's cloud, but the Zeus software has now been removed, he said. Zeus is a password-stealing botnet.

Variants of this malware have been linked to more than US$100 million in bank fraud in the past year.

He thinks the hackers may have just stumbled on a Web site with a security vulnerability -- they may have hacked the site's software or simply stolen an administrative password from a desktop computer to get on the site.

"I think it's more a target of opportunity than a target of choice," he said.

In the past few years, law enforcement takedowns and bad publicity have made it harder for many criminals to host their back-end infrastructure in legitimate or even semi-legitimate data centers, so they have moved to Web based services.

Although this didn't happen in this case, law enforcement officials worry that criminals might start using stolen credit cards to purchase cloud-based computing services from companies such as Amazon.

In August, security vendor Arbor Networks spotted a botnet that used Twitter to issue commands to hacked computers.

Security experts say that criminals will probably seek out new Web services to use in 2010.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Amazon Web Serviceshackersamazon ec2botnetscloud computing

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?