OVH hack prompts calls for tigher system admin security controls

Web hosting firm confirms European database breach.

The multi-stage cyber attack carried out against web hosting giant OVH has prompted calls for firms to tighten up security access to privileged accounts.

The French firm confirmed this week that an email account belonging to one of its system administrators was breached by hackers, allowing them to gain access to its European customer database.

Advertisement - Article continues below

We were not paranoid enough so now we're switching to a higher level of paranoia.

The hackers also acquired access to the firm's installation server system in Canada.

In a post on the company's web forum, OVH said the European database contains the names, addresses, telephone numbers and encrypted passwords of its customers, but no credit card information.

The company said it would take a lot of "technical means" for hackers to recover the "salted" passwords, but as a precaution it is encouraging its customers to reset them anyway.

The database breach resulted from the hackers using the system admin's email account to gain access to another employee's internal VPN, which in turn allowed them to take control of the person who handles the firm's internal back office systems.

The hack has prompted an overhaul of OVH's internal security policies, the post confirmed, including the introduction of automatically generated passwords for employees and the creation of a new VPN with highly restricted access.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"Consulting internal emails is now only possible from the office/VPN," the post continued.  "All those who have critical access now have three verification levels: IP source, password, [and a] staff USB security token," it added.

OVH said it has filed a criminal complaint about the incident to the judicial authorities.

"In the coming months the back office will be under PCI-DSS, which will allow us to ensure the incident related to a specific hack on specific individuals will have no impact on our databases," it said.

"In short, we were not paranoid enough so now we're switching to a higher level of paranoia. The aim is to guarantee and protect your data in the case of industrial espionage that would target people working at OVH."

Sol Cates, chief security officer at database encryption vendor Vormetric, said system admins are a common target for hackers because it makes delving deeper into the company's IT infrastructure much easier.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"By taking over the access rights of someone already on the system, hackers are able to easily circumvent the traditional perimeter defences that would have once foiled their efforts, and gain access to the corporate network," Cates explained.

"It's time to limit what impact these accounts have within our walls, to reduce exposure to data, detect activity, while allowing them to continue to perform their expected functions. 

"A layered approach, where data is firewalled' with sophisticated encryption and buffered by security intelligence capable of detecting this type of malicious and anomalous behaviour, is essential," Cates added.

Featured Resources

The case for a marketing content hub

Transform your digital marketing to deliver customer expectations

Download now

Fast, flexible and compliant e-signatures for global businesses

Be at the forefront of digital transformation with electronic signatures

Download now

Why CEOS should care about the move to SAP S/4HANA

And how they can accelerate business value

Download now

IT faces new security challenges in the wake of COVID-19

Beat the crisis by learning how to secure your network

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/mobile/mobile-security/355889/parachute-introduces-superlock-feature
mobile security

Parachute's Superlock feature keeps your phone recording in an emergency

2 Jun 2020
Visit/security/encryption/355820/k2view-innovates-in-data-management-with-new-encryption-patent
encryption

K2View innovates in data management with new encryption patent

28 May 2020
Visit/software/video-conferencing/355410/zoom-50-adds-256-bit-encryption-and-ui-refresh
video conferencing

Zoom 5.0 adds 256-bit encryption to address security concerns

23 Apr 2020
Visit/security/hacking/355382/whatsapps-flaw-shoulder-surfing
hacking

WhatsApp flaw leaves users open to 'shoulder surfing' attacks

21 Apr 2020

Most Popular

Visit/operating-systems/ios/355935/apple-confirms-serious-bugs-in-ios-135
iOS

Apple confirms serious bugs in iOS 13.5

4 Jun 2020
Visit/security/ransomware/355945/new-ransomware-uses-java-to-target-software-organisations
ransomware

Tycoon ransomware discovered using Java image files to target software firms

5 Jun 2020
Visit/hardware/355904/picking-the-perfect-multifunction-printer
Hardware

Picking the perfect multifunction printer

4 Jun 2020