Crypto-mining Attacks Through Azure VMs and GitHub Actions

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Researchers have revealed cloud-based bitcoin mining hacks that target GitHub Actions and Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) (GHAs).

The Crypto Attack

Trend Micro researchers have released a report describing the assaults.

Using the runners that GitHub provides, over a thousand projects and 550 code samples have been found to be exploiting GitHub Actions to mine bitcoin.

Additionally, the attackers mine bitcoin using Windows runners that are hosted on Azure.

It uses persistence strategies to avoid being discovered by GitHub and avoid having their Actions blocked.

Attackers often get access to cloud installations by taking advantage of an environmental security issue, such as shoddy credentials, an unpatched vulnerability, or a poorly configured cloud implementation.

Technical Information

By maliciously downloading and installing miners, the attackers used the runners offered by GitHub to operate an organization’s pipelines and automation.

The Standard DS2 v2 VM on Azure, which has two vCPUs and 7GB of RAM, served as the host for the Linux and Windows runs.

Researchers also examined numerous GHA YAML scripts that were trying to mine multiple cryptocurrencies and were discovered on GitHub.

Crypto attack effects on organisations

According to researchers, a miner-infected infrastructure performs less effectively. Additionally, it disrupts a company’s internet services, which harms the organization’s brand.

Researchers installed XMRig on one of its systems, which boosted CPU utilisation from an average of 13% to 100%, to show how significantly such assaults affect the businesses.

As a result, the price of power for a single cloud instance went from $20 to $130 per month (+600% for the target firm).

Recommendations

Companies should keep a close eye on their GitHub Actions for any indications of misuse. It’s crucial to identify potential vulnerabilities as soon as feasible in a cloud environment to thwart assaults before they can do too much harm. Additionally, check sure GHA is free of any cryptocurrency wallets.

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