May 2023 saw the beginning of the zero-day MOVEit hack which rocked the world of cybersecurity and had devastating consequences for hundreds of companies and millions of their customers. The hack penetrated and threatened to expose the critical data of millions and the consequences are potentially still being felt as enterprises globally hasten to patch vulnerabilities and secure themselves against similar attacks.
In this blog we will take a look at what caused the hack and how your business can defend against similar attacks with the help of encryption and automation.
What Was the MOVEit Hack?
The MOVEit hack was one of the biggest and consequential cyber-attacks felt in decades, the fallout of which is still being assessed by analysts globally. So what exactly was the infamous MOVEit hack?
The attack occurred in May 2023 and is what is known as a zero-day attack. A zero-day attack happens when a vulnerability is discovered in a DevOps or DevSecOps environment that has a limited time to be acted upon in order to mitigate the risk. In short, developers have zero days to eliminate the risk as it poses an immediate threat.
The hack was deployed by the infamous Russia-based hacker group Cl0p, targeting the American software development company MOVEit. By exploiting a zero-day vulnerability in the MOVEit software using an SQL injection, enabled unauthorized access to critical data as well as granting code execution capabilities. The hack affected the data and operations of over 2,000 organizations globally.
Why Was the Hack on MOVEit So Impactful?
The reason that the attack was so impactful rests in the MOVEit software itself. MOVEit is a file transfer software that transports encrypted data using FTP(S)/SFTP protocols. The software has capabilities to send and transfer data on a large-scale and is used to send sensitive data relating to finance, healthcare and social security.
The software is utilized by many large companies who also manage critical data for other third-parties, causing the devastating wide-scale breach. This is also why experts are still analyzing the ultimate effect of the attack. It is unknown how many companies have had their data and security affected, but the breach toll is still climbing.
What Can Enterprises Learn from the MOVEit Hack?
The attack, while devastating, serves as a wakeup call for how companies should manage their data and how IT teams can use encryption and automation to prevent a vulnerability breach in the future. While victims are still recovering from the attack, there are lessons to be learned in how to prevent something like this happening to them. Here are some key takeaways that organizations should consider to arm themselves and improve security posture:
- Encryption: By utilizing Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), businesses can encrypt data providing authenticity and integrity. There are a wide range of encryption methods available, but one thing to do is consider current business workflows and gain an understanding of the benefits of PKI algorithms.
- Automation: Automation removes the risk of human error, prevents burnout for IT teams and alerts them to potential vulnerabilities. The MOVEit attack was caused by a zero-day vulnerability and so to defend against similar attacks, IT teams need to be made aware of vulnerabilities to be able to patch them at the earliest possible stage of intervention. Automating certificate management can also prevent hackers from exploiting many vulnerabilities that stem from certificate expiration or revocation by removing the need for manual supervision and any potential certificate mismanagement.
- Partner Auditing: The MOVEit hack has taught businesses the importance of regularly auditing third-party suppliers and partners; primarily their security practices, vulnerabilities and compliance.
- Regular Testing: The MOVEit hack stemmed from a vulnerability in a software application, and so it is not just business leaders and organizations that can learn from this episode. Developers must ensure to practice caution too. Implementing DevSecOps practices and security pen-testing at every stage of development, as well as during and after deployment, can help detect vulnerabilities in software before they become risks or escalate into a major incident.
- Secure Authentication Methods: Secure authentication processes are a useful tool to prevent bad actors, like Cl0p, from accessing sensitive data and materials. All data should have authorized access limited to necessity and include a combination of multi-factor authentication, biometric identification, strong password management and tokens.
- Closing the Security Skill Gap: Business security rests in the hands of every individual and employee at a company, practicing accountability and empowering all staff with strong security education is essential. Employees should be aware of the best security practices and emerging threats, as well as how to spot and mitigate them.
Moving Forward: Mitigating Security Risks for Businesses with Encryption
The occurrence of the MOVEit hack and the devastating consequences that are still following should have provided insight to enterprises on a global scale that security is key to preventing total business disruption, avoiding substantial losses and must be taken seriously throughout every level of business. The effects of the zero-day Cl0p attack were extreme, but even on a smaller scale, lesser outcomes can still be devastating in the world of enterprise.
Enterprises everywhere should be reconsidering their security structure and avoid viewing it as a bi-product of business but as an essential pillar within business management. Enterprises can secure themselves with the implementation of encryption from a trustworthy Certificate Authority (CA), but whilst a good place to start, this alone is not enough. Enterprises must conduct regular internal audits, and an assessment of all of their partners, as well as instilling good security practices and education among all of their employees. Automation can take away the bulk of the strain felt by IT teams, preventing burnout and by extension, the risk of human error or mismanagement.
These measures can seem significant for one business to manage but with the right solutions, will allow the circumvention of devastating loss and disruption in the long run.