Microsoft Groups vulnerability exhibits hazard of collaboration apps



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Microsoft Groups is probably the largest enterprise communication platform on the planet. It rose to prominence in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic as a key house for enterprise customers to keep up productiveness.

Teams has over 270 million monthly active users. The pandemic helped speed up the platform’s attain from 75 million customers in April 2020 to 115 million in October 2020, and 145 million in April 2021.

Total, Gartner recorded a 44% rise in employees’ use of collaboration instruments since 2019, to the purpose the place 80% of employees have been utilizing collaboration instruments for work in 2021.

Whereas these instruments are handy, their widespread use has opened the door to some severe vulnerabilities. 


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For instance, based on analysis launched by Vectra yesterday, variations of Groups for Home windows, Mac and Linux are storing authentication tokens in plain textual content on the underlying gadget. That is vital as a result of it means if an attacker hacks a system the place Groups is put in they will acquire entry to authentication tokens together with different info. 

This vulnerability highlights that enterprises can’t afford to depend on the safety of consumer-grade, public-grade communication platforms once they’re speaking delicate info, IPs and different knowledge. 

How dangerous is the Microsoft Groups vulnerability?  

This isn’t the primary time that collaboration tools like Groups have acquired criticism for being insecure. In the beginning of this yr, Avanan recognized a major uptick in cyberattacks happening over Microsoft Groups, with risk actors utilizing chats and channels to flow into malicious .exe information. 

These new vulnerabilities are one other chink within the armor of purposes that purpose to be enterprise-grade communication platforms.

“In essence, that is nonetheless [the] unsolved downside of stealing cookies and different internet credentials by attackers with native entry,” mentioned John Bambenek, principal risk hunter at Netenrich. “That isn’t to say it’s not vital. The elemental downside is that attackers can steal a cookie and apply it to any variety of machines to replay an authenticated machine.”

“I wish to see builders and tech firms ship these credentials hashed with some local-machine particular info so cookie and credential relay attackers would disappear fully,” Bambenek added. 

The issue with collaboration apps 

Collaboration apps aren’t resistant to vulnerabilities. Like all piece of browser-based software program, they’ve underlying bugs and could be focused with web-based assaults and phishing makes an attempt. 

Only in the near past it emerged {that a} bug in Slack had uncovered some customers’ hashed passwords over a interval of 5 years. That got here roughly a yr after attackers used stolen cookies to hack EA Games’ private communication channel, allegedly stealing 780GB of knowledge together with the Fifa 21 supply code. 

The issue isn’t that options like Slack or Microsoft are significantly weak, however that they’re not optimized to maintain up with the extent of refined threats focusing on trendy organizations from each cybercriminals and state-sponsored actors. 

Despite these weaknesses, many organizations proceed to share protected info via these channels. In keeping with Veritas Technologies, 71% of workplace employees globally admit to sharing delicate and business-critical firm knowledge utilizing digital collaboration instruments. So what can organizations do? 

Limiting the danger of collaboration apps  

Vectra reported the brand new Groups vulnerability to Microsoft in August, however the latter disagreed that the severity of the vulnerability warranted patching. 

In any case, enterprises processing and managing commerce secrets and techniques or regulated info must be cautious about utilizing communication apps that put high-value knowledge prone to publicity. That doesn’t imply they need to cease utilizing communication apps fully. However it does imply they need to implement sturdy controls to cut back the danger of knowledge leakage. 

As one Deloitte report notes, “collaboration applied sciences, whereas important in the course of the surge of digital work, can pose severe threats to organizational safety and privateness if not correctly managed. As these applied sciences increase their attain and prevalence in enterprise operations, organizations ought to hold a pulse on potential threats, enact controls the place possible, and promote service availability.” 

In follow, controls embody utilizing choose robust randomized passwords, utilizing cloud entry safety dealer (CASB) options to establish knowledge exfiltration, implementing content material tips for platforms, and deploying an online utility firewalls to detect utility layer assaults.

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