The Midnight Blizzard and Cloudflare-Atlassian cybersecurity incidents raised alarms about the vulnerabilities inherent in major SaaS platforms. These incidents illustrate the stakes involved in SaaS breaches — safeguarding the integrity of SaaS apps and their sensitive data is critical but is not easy. Common threat vectors such as sophisticated spear-phishing, misconfigurations and vulnerabilities in third-party app integrations demonstrate the complex security challenges facing IT systems.
In the case of Midnight Blizzard, password spraying against a test environment was the initial attack vector. For Cloudflare-Atlassian, threat actors initiated the attack via compromised OAuth tokens from a prior breach at Okta, a SaaS identity security provider.
Microsoft was targeted by the Russian “Midnight Blizzard” hackers (also known as Nobelium, APT29, or Cozy Bear) who are linked to the SVR, the Kremlin’s foreign intelligence service unit.
In the Microsoft breach, the threat actors:
On Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2023, Cloudflare’s Atlassian systems were also compromised by a nation-state attack.
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These breaches are part of a broader pattern of nation-state actors targeting SaaS service providers, including but not limited to espionage and intelligence gathering. Midnight Blizzard previously engaged in significant cyber operations, including the 2021 SolarWinds attack.
These incidents underscore the importance of continuous monitoring of your SaaS environments and the ongoing risk posed by sophisticated cyber adversaries targeting critical infrastructure and operational tech stack. They also highlight significant vulnerabilities related to SaaS identity management and the necessity for stringent 3rd-party app risk management practices.
Attackers use common tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) to breach SaaS providers through the following kill chain:
One effective way to break the kill chain early is with continuous monitoring, granular policy enforcement, and proactive lifecycle management over your SaaS environments. A SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) platform like AppOmni can help with detecting and alerting on:
Note: This expertly contributed article is written by Beverly Nevalga, AppOmni.