Attackers start wiping data from CouchDB and Hadoop databases

After MongoDB and Elasticsearch, attackers are looking for new database storage systems to attack

It was only a matter of time until ransomware groups that wiped data from thousands of MongoDB databases and Elasticsearch clusters started targeting other data storage technologies. Researchers are now observing similar destructive attacks hitting openly accessible Hadoop and CouchDB deployments.

Security researchers Victor Gevers and Niall Merrigan, who monitored the MongoDB and Elasticsearch attacks so far, have also started keeping track of the new Hadoop and CouchDB victims. The two have put together spreadsheets on Google Docs where they document the different attack signatures and messages left behind after data gets wiped from databases.

In the case of Hadoop, a framework used for distributed storage and processing of large data sets, the attacks observed so far can be described as vandalism.

That's because the attackers don't ask for payments to be made in exchange for returning the deleted data. Instead, their message instructs the Hadoop administrators to secure their deployments in the future.

According to Merrigan's latest count, 126 Hadoop instances have been wiped so far. The number of victims is likely to increase because there are thousands of Hadoop deployments accessible from the internet -- although it's hard to say how many are vulnerable.

The attacks against MongoDB and Elasticsearch followed a similar pattern. The number of MongoDB victims jumped from hundreds to thousands in a matter of hours and to tens of thousands within a week. The latest count puts the number of wiped MongoDB databases at more than 34,000 and that of deleted Elasticsearch clusters at more than 4,600.

A group called Kraken0, responsible for most of the ransomware attacks against databases, is trying to sell its attack toolkit and a list of vulnerable MongoDB and Elasticsearch installations for the equivalent of US$500 in bitcoins.

The number of wiped CouchDB databases is also growing rapidly, reaching more than 400 so far. CouchDB is a NoSQL-style database platform similar to MongoDB.

Unlike the Hadoop vandalism, the CouchDB attacks are accompanied by ransom messages, with attackers asking for 0.1 bitcoins (around $100) to return the data. Victims are advised against paying because, in many of the MongoDB attacks, there was no evidence that attackers had actually copied the data before deleting it.

Researchers from Fidelis Cybersecurity have also observed the Hadoop attacks and have published a blog post with more details and recommendations on securing such deployments.

The destructive attacks against online database storage systems are not likely to stop soon because there are other technologies that have not yet been targeted and that might be similarly misconfigured and left unprotected on the internet by users.

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Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
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