Cloud computing was once considered a pipe dream, but has since become an integral part of the day-to-day operations of countless businesses worldwide. An estimated 92% of businesses host at least part of their IT environments in the cloud due to the flexibility it offers.
From savings on managing physical storage hardware to convenient accessibility from any location, it’s easy to see why so many companies have their heads in the cloud. In fact, total global cloud storage is expected to reach 200 zettabytes by 2025.
However, just like other critical IT elements your company relies on daily, it’s important to ensure your cloud storage is as secure as possible by improving cloud security measures.
Cloud malware attacks are on the rise, and now is the time to take a more proactive approach to prevent cyber attacks in cloud computing.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common types of malware cloud attacks, and how they impact your cloud infrastructure.
What is Cloud Malware?
Similar to malware that can affect your network and the computers physically connected to it, cloud malware is a type of cyber attack that infects your systems with malicious code created by hackers.
As cloud-based storage heavily relies on virtual machines to house your data, cloud attacks usually begin with what is referred to as an injection attack.
When threat actors execute an injection attack, they introduce malicious code or virtual machines (VMs) into your system. These are specially designed to resemble your existing VMs and coding so that they can initially go undetected.
Now that you understand how cloud malware infiltrates cloud environments, let’s take a closer look at the five most common types of attacks on cloud systems to watch for in 2022, and how to prevent them.
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The 5 Types of Malware Cloud Attacks
A report from Ermetic indicates that 79% of businesses have experienced at least one breach of their cloud systems over the past 18 months. Those attacks are the result of one of these five methods used by threat actors:
1. DDoS Attacks
A Distributed Denial of Service, or DDOS attack, is one of the main attack vectors used to breach public cloud environments.
In this type of attack, hackers use botnets to attempt to disrupt a network or server with a sudden flood of malicious traffic. The primary source of this traffic is a series of malware-infected computers or IoT devices.
The botnet consists of a large number of bots that are directed to send multiple requests to your IP address, which can overwhelm your network and potentially take your cloud service offline.
2. Hypervisor DoS
Another type of denial of service (DoS) attack, hypervisor cloud malware attacks exploit your hypervisor, or virtual machine monitor (VMM).
By attacking your hypervisor, a cyber attacker can directly impact all of the VMs your host is running once the hypervisor becomes compromised.
3. Hypercall Attack
A hypercall attack uses intrusion-based tactics to gain access to cloud environments. In this scenario, threat actors pose as guests using a hypercall interface – a form of software trap linked from a domain to a hypervisor – to request access to your domain.
Once a hacker gets access to your domain, they make their move. They target the virtual machines that utilize your hypercall handler, which directly impacts your hypervisor.
This kind of malware cloud attack is especially difficult to deal with because even the most advanced cloud security methods have difficulty detecting and preventing it.
4. Exploiting Live Migrations
Many cloud service providers provide live migrations in their service packages. Live migrations involve moving a cloud application or VM from one physical location to another without disconnecting them from the client or application.
While this automated process adds convenience and saves time, it is particularly susceptible to cyber attacks. Threat actors can infiltrate the migration while in action and manipulate your cloud systems to:
- Redirect your cloud resources to a virtual network they control
- Create several false live migrations that result in DoS or DDoS attacks
- Modify the migrated systems and leave them exposed for future cloud attacks
In a hyperjacking scenario, a cyber attacker takes control of the hypervisor responsible for creating virtual cloud environments within a hosting VM.
The objective of this exercise is to target the operating system running below your VMs. This allows the attacker to run a malicious program which goes undetected by the VMs running above it.
Preventing Cloud Computing Attacks
Now that you understand the main types of attacks experienced by cloud systems, let’s talk about some of the ways in which they can be prevented.
1. Tightening Your Access Controls
Cyber attacks in cloud computing occur because a hacker gained unauthorized access to your cloud systems or the virtual machines that power them.
Introducing advanced cloud security measures, such as the Zero Trust model, can be instrumental in controlling access to your cloud environments.