More than 1,000 Elasticsearch Databases Held Ransom

  • By Patrick Ryan
  • Jun 09, 2022

The online attacks simply do not stop. In the latest wave of online crime, ransomware hackers have obtained 1,200 Elasticsearch databases that lacked the necessary digital security protections.  

The ransomware hackers left a note on the Elasticsearch databases after wiping them, making sure their victim knew who was behind the digital damage. The note also demanded that the victim pay the requested ransom in bitcoin to the specified crypto wallet address. The payment of the ransom in bitcoin would lead to the restoration of the data.

Who Discovered the Threat?

Digital security specialists identified the ransomware threat with the Secureworks Counter Threat Unit. The researchers identified 1,200 poorly secured or completely unsecured databases within Elasticsearch. The hackers wiped each of the databases.  

Secureworks digital security professionals recently released a report covering the hack, noting that there is no information available to trace the source of the attack. The research team pinpointed nearly 500 distinct ransom payment requests that amounted to nearly $300,000. The digital miscreants responsible for the attack used two separate wallets to split up the payments.

How Does the Attack Occur?

Though digital security specialists researching the attack are not completely certain as to how it occurs, they have a good idea of the general strategy behind the data theft and ransom payment request satisfaction. It is assumed that the hacker employs automated scripts to pinpoint susceptible databases, proceeds to wipe the information, and leaves the ransom note behind.

The question is whether the data leak in the attack is actually backed up or simply erased. If the hacker erases the stolen data, opting not to pay for an exfiltration and storage tool, the data would not be backed up, meaning there is no incentive for the victim to pay the requested ransom. However, most victims have at least a glimmer of hope that the attacker has stored the stolen information and will return it immediately after the ransom payment is satisfied.

Is This the First Cloud-Oriented Attack of Late?

Attacks on data stored within the cloud are on the rise. Digital security specialists recently published a warning for the general public about the misconfiguration of an Amazon S3 bucket that led to the exposure of sensitive electronic flight data on the web.  

It is clear that data stored in the cloud is not completely secure. If your business has not updated its digital safeguards or taken the steps necessary to back up data at regular intervals, now is the time to implement those digital security safeguards.

What Will Become of Elasticsearch After the Attack?

Though no one can predict the future, it is safe to predict there will likely be a significant exodus of Elasticsearch users in the days and weeks to come. Those who have used Elasticsearch are advised to store sensitive data elsewhere as it might take weeks or longer for the company to implement the proper security controls. The use of frameworks that add access controls will help all the more.


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