February 6, 2023


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Microsoft Teams vulnerability shows danger of collaboration apps

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Microsoft Groups is perhaps the greatest company interaction platform in the environment. It rose to prominence through the COVID-19 pandemic as a critical place for organization people to manage productiveness.

Teams has over 270 million regular monthly energetic people. The pandemic aided speed up the platform’s reach from 75 million consumers in April 2020 to 115 million in October 2020, and 145 million in April 2021.

All round, Gartner recorded a 44% increase in workers’ use of collaboration tools considering the fact that 2019, to the point where by 80% of personnel have been employing collaboration resources for work in 2021.

When these applications are hassle-free, their popular use has opened the door to some significant vulnerabilities. 


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For case in point, in accordance to study released by Vectra yesterday, variations of Groups for Home windows, Mac and Linux are storing authentication tokens in plain text on the underlying gadget. This is major because it indicates if an attacker hacks a technique wherever Groups is put in they can obtain access to authentication tokens along with other data. 

This vulnerability highlights that enterprises just can’t pay for to depend on the safety of shopper-grade, community-quality communication platforms when they are speaking delicate facts, IPs and other details. 

How negative is the Microsoft Groups vulnerability?  

This is not the 1st time that collaboration instruments like Teams have received criticism for remaining insecure. At the commence of this yr, Avanan recognized a significant uptick in cyberattacks taking put in excess of Microsoft Groups, with danger actors utilizing chats and channels to flow into malicious .exe data files. 

These new vulnerabilities are a further chink in the armor of programs that purpose to be enterprise-grade conversation platforms.

“In essence, this is nevertheless [the] unsolved dilemma of thieving cookies and other world wide web credentials by attackers with regional obtain,” stated John Bambenek, principal danger hunter at Netenrich. “That is not to say it is not considerable. The elementary difficulty is that attackers can steal a cookie and use it on any amount of machines to replay an authenticated equipment.”

“I would like to see developers and tech companies ship these credentials hashed with some regional-device distinct details so cookie and credential relay attackers would vanish entirely,” Bambenek extra. 

The difficulty with collaboration apps 

Collaboration applications aren’t immune to vulnerabilities. Like any piece of browser-based mostly program, they have fundamental bugs and can be specific with website-centered attacks and phishing makes an attempt. 

Just recently it emerged that a bug in Slack experienced uncovered some users’ hashed passwords above a interval of 5 yrs. That arrived about a calendar year right after attackers made use of stolen cookies to hack EA Games’ personalized conversation channel, allegedly thieving 780GB of info which includes the Fifa 21 source code. 

The difficulty is not that remedies like Slack or Microsoft are particularly weak, but that they’re not optimized to continue to keep up with the amount of subtle threats targeting modern day companies from both of those cybercriminals and condition-sponsored actors. 

In spite of these weaknesses, quite a few corporations go on to share safeguarded data through these channels. In accordance to Veritas Technologies, 71% of workplace workers globally confess to sharing delicate and enterprise-important business data utilizing digital collaboration resources. So what can companies do? 

Limiting the danger of collaboration apps  

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

In any scenario, enterprises processing and taking care of trade secrets and techniques or controlled facts require to be cautious about making use of conversation applications that set superior-worth facts at chance of publicity. That doesn’t necessarily mean they need to end applying communication applications totally. But it does indicate they need to put into practice sturdy controls to lower the chance of details leakage. 

As one particular Deloitte report notes, “collaboration systems, whilst crucial during the surge of virtual work, can pose significant threats to organizational safety and privacy if not appropriately managed. As these technologies broaden their reach and prevalence in organization functions, organizations ought to retain a pulse on probable threats, enact controls in which possible, and encourage services availability.” 

In apply, controls contain working with select strong randomized passwords, utilizing cloud accessibility security broker (CASB) answers to determine information exfiltration, implementing material suggestions for platforms, and deploying a world-wide-web application firewalls to detect application layer assaults.

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