ChannelLife New Zealand logo
Industry insider news for New Zealand's technology resellers
Story image

Microsoft, Mandiant uncover Russian threat actor targeting cloud services

By Shannon Williams
Wed 27 Oct 2021

Mandiant and Microsoft have identified a new wave of intrusion activity from the threat actor behind the SolarWinds supply chain attacks. 

The Russian nation-state actor Nobelium is the same actor behind the cyberattacks targeting SolarWinds customers in 2020 and which the U.S. government and others have identified as being part of Russia’s foreign intelligence service known as the SVR.

According to Microsoft, Nobelium has been attempting to replicate the approach it has used in past attacks by targeting organisations integral to the global IT supply chain. This time, it is attacking a different part of the supply chain: resellers and other technology service providers that customise, deploy and manage cloud services and other technologies on behalf of their customers. 

"We believe Nobelium ultimately hopes to piggyback on any direct access that resellers may have to their customers’ IT systems and more easily impersonate an organisation’s trusted technology partner to gain access to their downstream customers," Microsoft says.

"We began observing this latest campaign in May 2021 and have been notifying impacted partners and customers while also developing new technical assistance and guidance for the reseller community."

Since May, Microsoft says it has notified more than 140 resellers and technology service providers that have been targeted by Nobelium. 

"We continue to investigate, but to date we believe as many as 14 of these resellers and service providers have been compromised," it says.

"Fortunately, we have discovered this campaign during its early stages, and we are sharing these developments to help cloud service resellers, technology providers, and their customers take timely steps to help ensure Nobelium is not more successful."

These attacks have been a part of a larger wave of Nobelium activities this summer. In fact, between July 1 and October 19 this year, Microsoft informed 609 customers that they had been attacked 22,868 times by Nobelium, with a success rate in the low single digits. By comparison, prior to July 1, 2021, it had notified customers about attacks from all nation-state actors 20,500 times over the past three years.

Microsoft says this recent activity is another indicator that Russia is trying to gain long-term, systematic access to a variety of points in the technology supply chain and establish a mechanism for surveilling – now or in the future – targets of interest to the Russian government. 

"The attacks we’ve observed in the recent campaign against resellers and service providers have not attempted to exploit any flaw or vulnerability in software but rather used well-known techniques, like password spray and phishing, to steal legitimate credentials and gain privileged access," the company says.

"We have learned enough about these new attacks, which began as early as May this year, that we can now provide actionable information which can be used to defend against this new approach."

Mandiant says that while the SolarWinds supply chain attack involved malicious code inserted in legitimate software, most of this recent intrusion activity has involved leveraging stolen identities and the networks of technology solutions, services, and reseller companies in North America and Europe to ultimately access the environments of organisations that are targeted by the Russian government. 

"This attack path makes it very difficult for victim organisations to discover they were compromised and investigate the actions taken by the threat actor," says Mandiant SVP and CTO, Charles Carmakal.

"This is particularly effective for the threat actor for two reasons: First, it shifts the initial intrusion away from the ultimate targets, which in some situations are organisations with more mature cyber defenses, to smaller technology partners with less mature cyber defenses and second, investigating these intrusions requires collaboration and information sharing across multiple victim organisations, which is challenging due to privacy concerns and organisational sensitivities," he says.

"We've observed this attack path used to obtain access toon-premises and cloud victim environments," Carmakal says.

"Similar to the victimology observed in the 2020 campaign, the targets of this intrusion activity appear to ultimately be government organisations and other organisations that deal in matters of interest to Russia. 

"The intrusion activity is ongoing and Mandiant is actively working with organisations that are impacted."

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
SaaS
Maintaining secure systems with expectations of flexible work
Most office workers feel they've proved they can work successfully from home, and as much as employers try, things aren't going back to the way they were anytime soon.
Story image
Ransomware
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Fonterra
Fonterra to use automated guided vehicles by Dematic
New Zealand's dairy giant Fonterra is upgrading its manufacturing facility in Edendale with new automated guided vehicles (AGVs) from Dematic.
Story image
Ransomware
A third of companies paying ransom don’t recover data - report
Veeam's report finds 76% of businesses who are victims of cyberattacks paid the ransom to recover data, but a third were still unable to get their information back.
Story image
Cybersecurity
BlackBerry offers Kaspersky replacement cybersecurity for the channel
BlackBerry advises that users of Kaspersky software in Australia and New Zealand undertake a rigorous risk analysis of their current security posture.
Story image
Lightspeed
Lightspeed launches all-in-one marketing platform in A/NZ
ECommerce provider, Lightspeed has launched a new all-in-one marketing solution, Lightspeed Marketing & Loyalty in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda launches new capabilities for API Protection
"Every business needs this type of critical protection against API vulnerabilities and automated bot attacks," Barracuda says.
Story image
Digital Transformation
How to modernise legacy apps without compromising security
At a time when digital transformation has become central to business, even the most important applications come with a ‘use-by’ date.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Pluralsight and Ingram Micro Cloud team up on cloud initiative
Pluralsight has teamed with Ingram Micro Cloud to build upon cloud competence and maturity internally, and externally support partners’ capabilities.
Story image
SAS
New SAS service overcomes subscription fatigue for media companies
SAS has launched SAS 360 Match which helps media companies move towards a AVOD model to generate revenue as subscribers cancel.
Story image
Mobility
Tyson Beckford partners with Element Case on new AppleWatch band
Celebrity Tyson Beckford has collaborated with STM Brands' Element Case brand to create a rugged new accessory.
Story image
Microsoft
New Relic enters multi-year partnership with Microsoft Azure
New Relic has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help enterprises accelerate cloud migration and multi-cloud initiatives. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
Managed service providers: effective scoping to avoid costly vendor pitfalls
Managed security services are outsourced services focusing on the security and resilience of business networks.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: WD_Black SN770 NVMe SSD Game Drive
Western Digital expands its WD_Black range of NVMe SSDs with the WD_Black SN770 Game Drive.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS unveils AI experience to improve kids' batting abilities
SAS has created The Batting Lab, an interactive experience using AI, computer vision and IoT analytics to help kids improve their baseball and softball swings.
Story image
WolfVision
WolfVision announces new range of visualisers
WolfVision has announced a new range of visualisers to help meet multiple industry demands for remote learning and educational solutions.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Noname Security partners with Netpoleon to target API issues
Specialist API security firm Noname Security has appointed Netpoleon as its distributor in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Nozomi Networks
Nozomi Networks, Siemens reveal software integration
Nozomi Networks and Siemens have extended their partnership by embedding Nozomi Networks’ software into the Siemens Scalance LPE local processing engine.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Collaboration
Meadows exits Ingram Micro New Zealand on a good note
We look at the resignation of Danny Meadows from Ingram Micro's New Zealand Unified Communications & Collaboration business unit.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS announces new products amid cloud portfolio success
Analytics and AI company SAS is deepening its broad industry portfolio with offerings that support life sciences, energy, and martech.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Wireless
Cradlepoint expands its Cellular Intelligence capabilities
Cradlepoint has announced additional Cellular Intelligence capabilities with its NetCloud service.
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Fortinet
Fortinet's Security Fabric hits new record for integrations
The Fortinet Security Fabric has surpassed 500 technology integrations with more than 300 Fabric-Ready Technology Alliance Partners.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
SAS launches human-focused responsible innovation initiative
SAS has launched a responsible innovation initiative, furthering its commitment to equity and putting people first.
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom appeals $2.25 million fine in Vodafone FibreX case
The Commerce Commission has filed an appeal in the High Court against a $2.25 million fine imposed on Vodafone NZ for its offending under the Fair Trading Act.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Cybersecurity
The 'A-B-C' of effective application security
Software applications have been a key tool for businesses for decades, but the way they are designed and operated has changed during the past few years.
Story image
Surveillance
Motorola Solutions acquires Videotec S.p.A for security portfolio
Motorola Solutions has acquired Italian ruggedised video security company Videotec S.p.A, along with its portfolio of highly versatile cameras.
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom welcomes new marketing codes for the telecom industry
The Commerce Commission is welcoming the creation of new marketing codes for the telecommunications industry.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Story image
Application Performance Monitoring / APM
Why SolarWinds Partners will have big wins in 2022
We summarise the key recent changes that the monitoring software vendor has made to accelerate its channel business.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Technics EAH-A800 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
Designed in Osaka, Japan, these headphones just exude quality. They aren’t heavy, but they feel well built and solid.
Story image
Remote Working
How zero trust and SD-WANs can support productive remote working
The way people connect with applications and data has changed, users are remotely accessing resources that could be stored anywhere from a corporate data center to the cloud.
Story image
Gaming
PNY launches XLR8 Gaming EPIX memory products in A/NZ
PNY has launched its XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X RGB™ DDR4 Silver 3200MHz and 3600MHz memory products in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Hard numbers: Why ambiguity in cybersecurity no longer adds up
As cybersecurity costs and risks continue to escalate, CEOs continue to struggle with what their investment in cyber protection buys. Getting rid of ambiguity becomes necessary.
Story image
Microsoft
PwC NZ unveils new Cloud Security Operations Center
PwC New Zealand has unveiled its new Cloud Security Operations Center for the entire Microsoft technology stack.
Story image
Phishing
KnowBe4 celebrates reaching 50,000 customers worldwide
KnowBe4 has reached the milestone of 50,000 customers, adding nearly 2,500 in the first quarter of 2022 alone.
Story image
Sustainability
Legrand unveils Nexpand, a data center cabinet platform
Legrand has unveiled a new data center cabinet platform, Nexpand, to offer the necessary scalability and future-proof architecture for digital transformation.