Hosting Firm Says it Lost All Customer Data After Ransomware Attack

Cyber Security Threat Summary:
Danish hosting firms CloudNordic and AzeroCloud recently disclosed that they suffered from a ransomware attack, causing the firms to lose a majority of customer data and shut down all systems, including websites, emails, and customer sites. Since the attack took place last Friday, IT teams have only managed to restore some of the servers without any data, with CloudNordic stating that the restoration process isn’t going smoothly and that many of their customers’ data seems irrecoverable.

The firms did not disclose which ransomware group was behind the attack, nor any mentions of ransom demands. However, both CloudNordic and AzeroCloud have stated that they won’t be paying any ransom to the threat actors and that they have notified law enforcement of the incident. Customers have been advised to recover their websites and services using local backups or Wayback Machine archives.

Security Officer Comments:
It is unclear how the actors were able to access the firm’s servers. According to the hosting companies, their servers were protected by firewalls and antivirus solutions. Despite this, the actors were able to infect them with ransomware. What’s more, these servers were further connected to a broader network, enabling the actors to move laterally and access critical admin systems and all backup systems. From here, the actors encrypted all server disks, including backups, making recovery impossible. According to CloudNordic, the attack was limited to just encryption, and there has been no evidence of the data being exfiltrated. However, given that the firm is having trouble with recovery, many customers are left without any of their data and can not access their websites.

Suggested Correction(s):
Backup your data, system images, and configurations, regularly test them, and keep the backups offline: Ensure that backups are regularly tested and that they are not connected to the business network, as many ransomware variants try to find and encrypt or delete accessible backups. Maintaining current backups offline is critical because if your network data is encrypted with ransomware, your organization can restore systems.

Update and patch systems promptly: This includes maintaining the security of operating systems, applications, and firmware in a timely manner. Consider using a centralized patch management system; use a risk- based assessment strategy to drive your patch management program.

Test your incident response plan: There's nothing that shows the gaps in plans more than testing them. Run through some core questions and use those to build an incident response plan: Are you able to sustain business operations without access to certain systems? For how long? Would you turn off your manufacturing operations if business systems such as billing were offline?

Check Your Security Team's Work: Use a 3rd party pen tester to test the security of your systems and your ability to defend against a sophisticated attack. Many ransomware criminals are aggressive and sophisticated and will find the equivalent of unlocked doors.

Segment your networks: There's been a recent shift in ransomware attacks – from stealing data to disrupting operations. It's critically important that your corporate business functions and manufacturing/production operations are separated and that you carefully filter and limit internet access to operational networks, identify links between these networks and develop workarounds or manual controls to ensure ICS networks can be isolated and continue operating if your corporate network is compromised. Regularly test contingency plans such as manual controls so that safety critical functions can be maintained during a cyber incident.

Train employees: Email remains the most vulnerable attack vector for organizations. Users should be trained how to avoid and spot phishing emails. Multi Factor authentication can help prevent malicious access to sensitive services.