The Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB) is set to embark on an extensive examination of cloud security practices in response to recent cyberattacks on US government Microsoft Exchange accounts, carried out by a Chinese hacking group known as ‘Storm-0558’.
Furthermore, the CSRB, a collaborative effort between public and private sectors, specializes in comprehensive investigations to gain deeper insights into critical events, ascertain root causes, and provide well-informed cybersecurity recommendations. The focal point of this review will be the reinforcement of identity management and authentication within cloud environments, aimed at devising actionable cybersecurity guidance for all stakeholders including the government, industry, and cloud service providers (CSPs). These recommendations will subsequently be submitted to CISA and the current US administration to determine the necessary protective actions for government systems and accounts.
Additionally, the CSRB’s initiative highlights the escalating reliance on cloud computing by various organizations to deliver services to the American populace, underscoring the necessity of understanding the vulnerabilities inherent in cloud technology. The US Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, emphasized the significance of cloud security, particularly its pivotal role in vital systems such as e-commerce platforms, communication tools, and critical infrastructure. The cyberthreat incident in question, involving the breach of email accounts for numerous organizations by the ‘Storm-0558’ group, exploited a zero-day vulnerability and forged authentication tokens derived from a stolen Microsoft consumer signing key. The compromised key allowed impersonation of Azure accounts, granting unauthorized access to sensitive email accounts and necessitating a comprehensive response from authorities.
As part of the aftermath of these cyberattacks, Microsoft faced criticism for not providing adequate free logging services to detect such malicious activities. Following collaboration with CISA, Microsoft eventually offered this logging data for free to all its customers. While Microsoft revoked the stolen signing key and addressed the API flaw, the exact origin of the hackers’ access to the key remains undisclosed.
A subsequent investigation by Wiz researchers revealed that the breach’s scope was more extensive than initially reported, raising concerns that the compromised key could potentially grant access to various Microsoft applications and customer authentication systems. Consequently, due to the severity of the breach and inconclusive findings, the US government entrusted the CSRB with a comprehensive review of the incident, aiming to provide insights to enhance user, defender, and service provider capabilities against future cyber threats.