A recently uncovered cryptojacking operation named AMBERSQUID is focusing its efforts on exploiting uncommon Amazon Web Services (AWS) offerings, including AWS Amplify, AWS Fargate, and Amazon SageMaker, to covertly mine cryptocurrency.
Furthermore, the cloud-native cryptojacking campaign was exposed by Sysdig, a cloud and container security firm, which noted that AMBERSQUID’s sophisticated approach allowed it to avoid triggering AWS resource approval alerts. This operation poses unique challenges for incident response teams as it targets multiple services, necessitating the detection and termination of miners across various exploited platforms.
Sysdig’s discovery of this campaign was the result of an analysis of 1.7 million images on Docker Hub, leading to a moderate-confidence attribution to Indonesian attackers based on the use of the Indonesian language in scripts and usernames. The attackers have engineered some of these images to execute cryptocurrency miners obtained from actor-controlled GitHub repositories, while others run shell scripts designed to target AWS services.
An important aspect of this operation is the misuse of AWS CodeCommit, which is typically used to host private Git repositories, to generate private repositories used across different services as sources for their activities.
The attackers behind AMBERSQUID have been observed using these private repositories to facilitate cryptojacking operations across AWS Fargate and SageMaker instances, incurring significant computational costs for their victims. Sysdig’s estimation suggests that if AMBERSQUID were to expand its scope to target all AWS regions, it could result in daily losses exceeding $10,000.
This isn’t the first time that Indonesian threat actors have been connected to cryptojacking campaigns; in May 2023, Permiso P0 Labs revealed an actor known as GUI-vil using Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances for crypto mining operations.
The sophistication of these attackers highlights the importance of addressing security beyond just compute services, emphasizing the need for vigilance across various AWS offerings.