Cloud-Based Network Attacks Rise by 48%
February 01, 2023

Omer Dembinsky
Check Point Software Technologies

It's Not Always Peaceful High in the Clouds

For the past few years, Check Point Research (CPR) has been following the evolution of the cloud threat landscape, as well as the constant increase in cloud infrastructure adoption by corporate environments. As many as 98% of global organizations utilize cloud-based services, and approximately 76% of them have multi-cloud environments, featuring services from two or more cloud providers.

Cloud adoption in general has grown rapidly in recent years, and COVID-19 accelerated this transition. With the normalization of remote work, companies needed to be able to support and provide critical services to their off-site workforce. As the adoption of cloud technology grows, so does the need for cloud security. Cloud-based applications and cloud-hosted data must be protected against unauthorized access in accordance with applicable regulations. This year saw a significant example of how critical this protection might get, when Thailand's most extensive mobile network, AIS, accidentally left a database of eight billion internet records exposed, leading to one of the most expensive breaches ever recorded, costing the company $58 billion to resolve.

In November, The FBI and CISA revealed in a joint advisory that an unnamed Iranian-backed threat group hacked a Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) organization to deploy XMRig cryptomining malware. The attackers compromised the federal network after hacking into an unpatched VMware Horizon server using an exploit targeting the Log4Shell (CVE-2021-44228) remote code execution vulnerability.

Growth in the Number of Attacks Against Cloud-Based Networks

When examining the past two years of Cloud-based networks landscape, we see a significant growth of 48% in the number of attacks per organization experienced in 2022, compared to 2021. When examining the growth in number of attacks per organization, according to geographical regions we see that Asia sees the largest increase, Year of year, with 60% growth, followed by Europe that has seen a substantial growth of 50% and North America with 28%.

Newer and Major CVE's Impact Higher in Cloud-Based Networks Compared to On-Prem

Although the current number of attacks on cloud-based networks is still 17% lower than in non-cloud networks, when drilling down to types of attacks, and specifically to Vulnerability Exploits, there is a higher usage of newer CVE's (disclosed 2020-2022) compared to on-prem networks for attempted attacks on cloud-based networks. The difference between the two types of networks can be seen in the visual below.

Percentage of attacks leveraging recent vulnerabilities (disclosed 2020-2022)

Further analysis of specific high profile global vulnerabilities reveals that some major CVE's have had a higher impact on cloud-based networks compared to on-prem. For example, the Text4shell Vulnerability (CVE-2022-42889), which was disclosed in October and was exploited soon after, has shown a 16% higher impact on cloud-based environments compared to its impact against on-prem networks. This vulnerability, based on the Apache Commons Text's functionality, allows attacks over a network without the need for any specific privileges or user interaction.

Additional examples of prominent CVEs disclosed this year that have shown a similar trend:

■ VMware Workspace Remote Code Execution (CVE-2022-22954) - 31% higher impact on cloud-based networks.

■ Microsoft Exchange Server Remote Code Execution (CVE-2022-41082) - 17% higher impact on cloud-based networks.

■ F5 BIG IP (CVE-2022-1388) - 12% higher impact on cloud-based networks.

■ Atlassian Confluence — Remote Code Execution (CVE-2022-26134) - 4% higher impact on cloud-based networks

The statistics and data used in this report present data detected by Check Point's Threat Prevention technologies, stored and analyzed in ThreatCloud.

Omer Dembinsky, Data Group Manager at Check Point Software Technologies
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