Tesla Cloud Servers Hacked By Cryptojackers

Tesla paid Red Lock over $3,000 for discovering the hack as part of its bug bounty

Security researchers at cloud security firm RedLock released a report earlier today that revealed, among other things, that the an unprotected Kubernetes console belonging to the EV brand led to data exposure and mining activities.

Before discovering Tesla's security issue, RedLock reports that hackers had secretly infiltrated these organizations' public cloud environments to mine cryptocurrencies as well.

"The message from this research is loud and clear - the unmistakable potential of cloud environments is seriously compromised by sophisticated hackers identifying easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities", said Gaurav Kumar, CTO of RedLock and head of the CSI team. Organizations need a way to detect account compromises.

The attackers were able to hack Tesla's Kubernetes console, which it uses to manage its application containers, in part because there was no password protection enabled for the system. Hackers gained access to the electric auto company's Amazon cloud account, where they were able to view "sensitive data" such as vehicle telemetry.

It's only the latest example of several detected by cloud security outfit RedLock, which has tracked a series of Kubernetes admin consoles wide open to anyone looking. However, it doesn't appear that Tesla's data was the target of the hackers. This lapse in Tesla's security exposed access credentials for the company's Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment. For instance, the analysis shows that 66 percent of databases are not encrypted. While the attack was similar to the ones at Aviva and Gemalto, there were some notable differences.

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In addition, the cyber thieves performed cryptojacking using Tesla's cloud compute resources and employed specific techniques to evade detection. Instead, they installed mining pool software and configured the malicious script to connect to an "unlisted" or semi-public endpoint. They also hid the true IP address of their custom mining pool server behind CloudFlare, a free content delivery network (CDN) service.

According to the researchers, this technique makes it more hard for domain and IP-based threat detection systems to detect such activity. "However, security is a shared responsibility: Organizations of every stripe are fundamentally obliged to monitor their infrastructures for risky configurations, anomalous user activities, suspicious network traffic, and host vulnerabilities".

"We maintain a bug bounty program to encourage this type of research, and we addressed this vulnerability within hours of learning about it", the spokesperson said in a statement.

Kumar added that while breaches at cloud service providers were nearly never the fault of the host - Amazon, Microsoft, Google - security is a "shared responsibility". The security firm also found that 58 percent of organizations have "publicly exposed at least one cloud storage service" like Tesla did.

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