SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Collaboration tool APIs leaving organisations vulnerable

By Kai Ping Lew
Mon 9 Jul 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by Barracuda Networks senior sales engineer Mark Lukie

Today’s workforce is more flexible than ever.

To find success with this business strategy, collaboration is pivotal for teams to brainstorm, contribute individual ideas and perspectives, share resources, make decisions and reach goals together — regardless of where they’re located.

As adoption of collaboration tools rapidly increases, whether it's a workflow-based utility such as Asana, cloud file storage on Box or Google Docs or a chat-oriented app such as Slack, cybercriminals are finding new opportunities to access an organisation's most vital information.

It should come as little surprise given the massive migration of collaboration systems from on-premises to cloud alternatives in the last few years.

Microsoft Office, Google G Suite and Slack are becoming the system of record in many organisations. This is likely to continue to play out for the next five years until a big shift sees people mostly using the cloud.

Alongside this migration has been the rise of application programming interfaces (APIs) and artificial intelligence (AI).

In combination, a lot of good things are being created, but there’s an equal number of bad.

As companies make the migration, they're using these new types of systems and integrating other components.

They might be integrating an identity management service into Microsoft Office 365 to get single sign-on; or integrating a telephony service into email so calendars can add a bridge number to meeting invites.

This same technology allows cyber criminals to take advantage of these open APIs and new systems of record.

They’re also taking advantage of innovations in cloud, AI and machine learning to sponsor attacks with these APIs.

Cyber criminals look for vulnerabilities and leverage social engineering to mimic user behaviour to get around known defences and infiltrate organisations, using what were thought to be pretty secure defences to keep the threats stuff out.

That's a perfect storm of businesses wanting more convenience, with the ability for cyber criminals to leverage these APIs and get into those systems.

It's a race of a mutually assured destruction.

What are the threats?

Looking at the Slack API, for example, a sinister third-party app that bridges your Slack account with a CRM platform like Salesforce could be developed.

Somebody in your company could download and install this trojan Slack app – which appears on the surface to be a simple connector – that can be easily authorised by an individual in the company.

All of a sudden, you now have a bot sitting on someone's workstation that can talk to both Slack and Salesforce and potentially leak data out without the company's knowledge.

That's just one example, but you can apply this to virtually any platform that has an open API.

In the case of AI, cyber criminals are using it to figure out how to exploit systems, gather data and expose it to the media, competing companies and other parties.

The main aim to cause problems – whether it be to disrupt government elections, economies or business stability.

This could happen in a lot of ways.

It could be a machine learning model that’s trained to look for specific information, or a bot that appears to be a real person that could solicit the information from employees.

There are all sorts of vulnerabilities that these collaboration tools open up for organisations.

Another trend that we’re seeing is departments and teams purchasing or implementing collaboration tools that inadvertently connect public things to the private network outside the purview of the IT department.

Since they’ve already been adopted, IT then has trouble locking down who can actually install and run things in the company network in an effort to prohibit these types of connections from happening.

If any employee is allowed to add an app to the company Asana team, for example, it can be disastrous.

What can you do?

There are a few things that your company can do to stay secure.

The first is to ensure the IT department is aware of all the apps that are installed, as well as the third-party connectors deployed into these apps.

Make sure they've been reviewed or vetted by scrutinising eyes to make sure that they're not actually Trojan-like attacks that were created to spook somebody into installing them.

The second thing your company should be doing is vetting the security and compliance best practice standards of your suppliers.

There's a great third-party website that helps IT departments do that vetting called EnterpriseReady.

You can check if your SaaS app has all of the right controls in place to ensure a highly secure operating environment.

The key things to remember are that it's all about privacy, ensuring that there's a sufficient ability to lock down controls and that APIs have audit access.

It’s also worth noting that a lot of these collaboration solutions have permissions controls to fight against this exact sort of thing.

You can tighten permissions on the integrations that come through these apps and who controls them.

If you configure these permissions, it saves IT a lot of work having to monitor the apps that are installed throughout the organisation.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Adatree, Brother, Databricks, Nutanix & Rubrik
We round up all job appointments from May 20-26, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Cybersecurity
4/10 Australian SMEs fallen victim to cyber-attacks since pandemic
Almost four out of teb SMEs in Australia have fallen victim to cyber-attacks since the pandemic began, according to a new study.
Story image
Transport
Third-party automotive apps bear significant privacy risks
Mobile applications for connected cars provide various features to make life easier for motorists, but they can also be a source of risk.
Story image
Malware
Fortinet introduces self-learning AI in latest offering
Fortinet is introducing self-learning AI capabilities in its new network detection and response offering, FortiNDR.
Story image
Training
Infosec unveils role-guided cybersecurity training roadmaps
Infosec Skills Roles maps hands-on training and certifications to the 12 most in-demand cybersecurity roles to maximise training efficiency.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.
Story image
Malware
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Malware
'Alarming' rise in ransomware threats - Verizon report
As criminals look to leverage increasingly sophisticated forms of malware, it is ransomware that continues to prove particularly successful.
Story image
ChildFund
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
Microsoft
Global cybersecurity insurance market worth $11.5b this year
Future Market Insights finds the cybersecurity insurance market is expected to reach USD$11.5 billion in 2022, growing to $61.2 billion in 10 years.
Story image
VPN
The most common online scams in Australia
No one is safe from online scammers, and many of these scammers have capitalised on the pandemic, using this confusing time to attack more people than ever.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Noname Security partners with Netpoleon to target API issues
Specialist API security firm Noname Security has appointed Netpoleon as its distributor in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Accenture - a collective security approach a driving factor for cyber resilience
With the approaching Davos World Economic Forum upon us, it is even more imperative to discuss the impact of cybersecurity on business operations leading into the future.
Story image
Kubernetes
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda launches new capabilities for API Protection
"Every business needs this type of critical protection against API vulnerabilities and automated bot attacks," Barracuda says.
Story image
Microsoft
Elevation of Privilege the top 2021 Microsoft vulnerability
BeyondTrust has released its 2022 Microsoft Vulnerabilities Report, finding that Elevation of Privilege is the top vulnerability category for the second consecutive year.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
Phishing
Vishing attacks reach all time high - Agari and PhishLabs
"Hybrid vishing campaigns continue to generate stunning numbers, representing 26.1% of total share in volume so far in 2022."
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
BYOD / Bring Your Own Device
How zero trust can lead the battle against ransomware
SecOps teams champion a zero trust strategy to support the fight against the escalating risk of cybercrime and help monitor threat actors across a network.
Story image
Ransomware
Employees on the frontline of cyber defense - report
In the first quarter of 2022, employees found themselves more than ever at the frontline of cyber defense, according to a new report from Kroll. 
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Ransomware
APAC ranks third-highest region targeted by ransomware
Asia Pacific has ranked the third-highest region globally to be targeted by ransomware, according to cybersecurity firm Group-IB.
Story image
Ransomware
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Gartner reveals top three tech trends for banks this year
Gartner says generative artificial intelligence, autonomic systems and privacy-enhancing computation are gaining traction in banking and investment services.
Story image
Remote Working
Australia’s remote workers face connectivity and security issues
SOTI's new report finds better video conferencing technology and improved security measures are top concerns for remote workers in Australia.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
The post-pandemic workforce requires secure IAM capabilities
HID Global discusses what identity and access management means for organisations in today's convoluted digital world.
Story image
Surveillance
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Comcast to use ThreatQuotient for cybersecurity operations
Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal and SKY Group, has chosen ThreatQ Platform and ThreatQ Investigations to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Data Protection
Information management capabilities to meet privacy requirements
Organisations with customers or operations across more than one country face a spate of new and proposed privacy and data protection laws.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Asia Pacific plagued by sophisticated bad bots - report
The three most common bot attacks were account takeover, content or price scraping, and scalping to obtain limited-availability items.
Story image
Check Point
Check Point and CCTV expert join forces to boost protection
The partnership will involve Check Point Quantum IoT Protect Nano Agent being embedded in Provision-ISR’s CCTV cameras for on-device runtime protection.
Story image
Phishing
WhatsApp and QR codes the next scam threat - report
KnowBe4 has warned it expects to see an increase in QR Codes and the WhatsApp chat platform being used for phishing and other scams. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
What every CISO must answer to enable a best-in-class security operations program
It has been widely reported recently that South Australian government employees have been the victims of a cyberattack.
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Training
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
Ponemon Institute
Email revealed to be riskiest channel for data loss
More than half (60%) of organisations experienced data loss or exfiltration caused by an employee mistake on email in the last 12 months.