Cloud Watching: Understanding Attacks Against Cloud-Hosted Services

Izhikevich, Liz and Tran, Manda and Kallitsis, Michalis and Fass, Aurore and Durumeric, Zakir
(2023) Cloud Watching: Understanding Attacks Against Cloud-Hosted Services.
In: IMC (ACM Internet Measurement Conference).
Conference: IMC Internet Measurement Conference

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Cloud computing has dramatically changed service deployment patterns. In this work, we analyze how attackers identify and target cloud services in contrast to traditional enterprise networks and network telescopes. Using a diverse set of cloud honeypots in 5 providers and 23 countries as well as 2 educational networks and 1 network telescope, we analyze how IP address assignment, geography, network, and service-port selection, influence what services are targeted in the cloud. We find that scanners that target cloud compute are selective: they avoid scanning networks without legitimate services and they discriminate between geographic regions. Further, attackers mine Internet-service search engines to find exploitable services and, in some cases, they avoid targeting IANA-assigned protocols, causing researchers to misclassify at least 15% of traffic on select ports. Based on our results, we derive recommendations for researchers and operators.


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