Hacked Kaseya had previous security flaws
For 21 years, the software company Kaseya labored in relative obscurity — at least until cybercriminals exploited it in early July for a massive ransomware attack that snarled businesses around the world and escalated U.S.-Russia diplomatic tensions.
But it turns out that the recent hack wasn’t the first major cybersecurity problem to hit the Miami-based company and its core product, which IT teams use to remotely monitor and administer workplace computer systems and other devices.
“It feels a little like dejaà vu,” said Allie Mellen, a security analyst at Forrester Research.
In 2018, for instance, hackers managed to infiltrate Kaseya’s remote tool to run a “cryptojacking” operation, which channels the power of afflicted computers to mine cryptocurrency — often without its victims noticing. It was a less harmful breach than the recent ransomware attack, which was impossible to miss since it crippled affected systems until their owners paid up. But it similarly relied on Kaseya’s Virtual System Administrator product, or VSA, as a vehicle to get access to the companies that rely on it.
A 2019 ransomware attack also rode into computers through another company’s add-on software component to the Kaseya VSA, causing more limited damage than the recent attack. Some experts have tied that earlier assault to some of the same hackers who later formed REvil, the Russian-language syndicate blamed for the latest attack.
And in 2014, Kaseya’s own founders sued the company in a dispute over responsibility for a VSA security flaw that allowed hackers to launch a separate cryptocurrency scheme. The court case does not appear to have been previously reported outside of a brief 2015 mention in a technical blog post. At the time, the founders denied responsibility for the vulnerability, calling the company’s charges against them a “bogus assertion.”
Nearly all of Kaseya’s security problems have as their root cause well-understood coding vulnerabilities that should have been addressed earlier, said cybersecurity expert Katie Moussouris, the founder and CEO of Luta Security.
“Kaseya needs to shape up, as does the entire software industry,” she said. “This is a failure to incorporate the lessons the bugs were teaching you. Kaseya, like a lot of companies, is failing to learn those lessons.”
Many of the attacks relied at least in part on what’s known as SQL injection, a technique hackers use to inject malicious code into web queries.