UPDATED X1 : OpenSSL.org Defaced by Attackers Gaining Access to Hypervisor

Published: 2014-01-02
Last Updated: 2014-01-03 14:44:16 UTC
by John Bambenek (Version: 2)
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By now, most of you have heard that the openssl.org website was defaced.  While the source code and repositories were not tampered with, this obviously concerned people.  What is more interesting is that the attack was made possible by gaining access to the hypervisor that hosts the VM responsible for the website.  Attacks of this sort are likely to be more common as time goes on as it provides easy ability to take over a host without having to go through the effort of actually rooting a box.  (Social engineering credentials is easy, ask the Syrian Electronic Army... actual penetrations take effort).

The key takeaways are to obviously protect the Hypervisor from unauthorized access.  Beyond that, protect your VMs as if they are physical machines and as feasible use a BIOS password, boot password, disable DVDROM and USB storage.  Don't trust the hypervisor or VM host to secure your machine for you.  For additional reading, see this NIST Guide to Security for Full Virtualization Technologies.

More on the openssl.org defacement as it develops.

UPDATE 1: OpenSSL has released an updated version of their statement saying that the Hypervisor used an insecure password which is how the attackers gained access.  Contrary to other media reports, no special ninja tricks were used or undisclosed vulnerabilities.

John Bambenek
bambenek \at\ gmail /dot/ com
Bambenek Consulting

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