Feeds

Brutish SSH attacks continue to bear fruit

Blame the noobs

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The number of attacks against secure shells protecting Linux boxes, internet routers and other network devices has continued to climb over the past several years, an indication that they still bear fruit for the miscreants who mount them.

Data collected by DShield.org, a organization that aggregates firewall logs from across the planet, shows no abatement in brute-force password attacks for secure shell, or SSH, devices. Those attacks work by submitting several dozen to several hundred combinations of user names and passwords to SSH-enabled devices connected to the internet. Even a tiny percentage of successes can prove valuable if the attacks are sufficiently widespread.

"This particular attack is high volume, low impact," said John Bambenek, a handler at the Sans Internet Storm Center, who has been crunching the numbers and reading the logs. "People are not spending a lot of time to break in. They're looking for low-hanging fruit."

Translation: the reason the attempts to crack SSH passwords continues is that enough of them succeed to justify the expense.

SSH is used to create an encrypted channel so administrators can transfer files or execute shell commands on a remote server or network device. Gain access to an SSH account and there's a fair chance you'll get your hands on all kinds of sensitive resources. Bots that perform the scans are often equipped with tools that automate privilege escalation once an SSH account has been breached.

Witness this post from fellow Sans handler Daniel Wesemann from last month that recounts one successful attack against a poorly protected Cisco router. After correctly guessing the SSH password for a user account called test, the attacker was able to use it to tunnel back to the home base.

The proliferation of the attacks comes as more and more newbies use Linux and network devices designed to offer out-of-the-box SSH deployments.

"There used to be a point when people who were using SSH were fairly security savvy," said Bambenek. "I'm not sure that's the case anymore. They use SSH boxes and think just by having it there they're safe."

The reality is a bit more complicated. Rule number one: as with other services such as FTP, if you don't use it, don't enable it. Sans offers other SSH security tips here. More are available here from CentOS. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.