Abuse and Nefarious Use of Cloud Computing

IaaS providers offer their customers the illusion of unlimited compute, network, and storage capacity — often coupled with a ‘frictionless’ registration process where anyone with a valid credit card can register and immediately begin using cloud services. Some providers even offer free limited trial periods. By abusing the relative anonymity behind these registration and usage models, spammers, malicious code authors, and other criminals have been able to conduct their activities with relative impunity. PaaS providers have traditionally suffered most from this kind of attacks; however, recent evidence shows that hackers have begun to target IaaS vendors as well. Future areas of concern include password and key cracking, DDOS, launching dynamic attack points, hosting malicious data, botnet command and control, building rainbow tables, and CAPTCHA solving farms.


IaaS offerings have hosted the Zeus botnet, InfoStealer trojan horses, and downloads for Microsoft Office and Adobe PDF exploits. Additionally, botnets have used IaaS servers for command and control functions. Spam continues to be a problem — as a defensive measure, entire blocks of IaaS network addresses have been publicly blacklist.



Criminals continue to leverage new technologies to improve their reach, avoid detection, and improve the effectiveness of their activities. Cloud Computing providers are actively being targeted, partially because their relatively weak registration systems facilitate anonymity, and providers’ fraud detection capabilities are limited.


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