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Here's What Caused Ripple's Fortress Trust $15 Mln Crypto Hack

source-logo  coingape.com 18 September 2023 15:00, UTC

Retool has just unveiled crucial information about a recent hacking incident that affected 27 cryptocurrency accounts. In this breach, a staggering $15 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from Fortress Trust, after the attacker successfully gained control by exploiting the Google Authenticator cloud sync function. The hacker initially took control of the victim’s Google account, subsequently gaining access to all the data stored within Google Authenticator.

Retool’s Security Breach

In a recent revelation, software development company Retool disclosed a disturbing security breach that impacted 27 of its cloud customers. The breach, stemming from a targeted SMS-based social engineering attack, has raised significant concerns within the cybersecurity landscape.

Retool, headquartered in San Francisco, pointed a finger at a Google Account cloud synchronization feature introduced in April 2023, deeming it a “dark pattern” that exacerbated the situation. According to Snir Kodesh, Retool’s head of engineering, the synchronization of Google Authenticator to the cloud emerged as a novel and unexpected attack vector.

This development caught them off guard as they had initially implemented multi-factor authentication, which, unbeknownst to administrators, had silently transformed into single-factor authentication due to the Google update.

This alarming incident unfolded on August 27, 2023, and while it didn’t grant unauthorized access to on-premises or managed accounts, it occurred concurrently with Retool’s migration of logins to Okta, a key detail in the story.

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A Closer Look Into The Cyber Hack

The cyber assault commenced with an SMS phishing attack aimed squarely at Retool’s employees. Threat actors cunningly posed as IT team members, instructing recipients to click a seemingly legitimate link to address a fictitious payroll-related issue. Tragically, one employee fell victim to this phishing trap, landing on a deceptive page that duped them into surrendering their login credentials.

According to the recent statement, the situation took a more sinister turn due to the employee’s activation of Google Authenticator’s cloud sync feature. This granted the threat actors elevated access to Retool’s internal admin systems, leading to the compromise of 27 customer accounts in the cryptocurrency industry. In a devastating blow, one of these customers, Ripple’s recently acquired Fortress Trust, suffered a staggering loss of nearly $15 million in cryptocurrency.

In hindsight, this sophisticated attack underscores the vulnerability of syncing one-time codes to the cloud, highlighting the importance of FIDO2-compliant hardware security keys to thwart such phishing attempts.

Though the identity of the hackers remains shrouded in mystery, their tactics bear a striking resemblance to those of Scattered Spider (aka UNC3944), a financially motivated threat actor renowned for their sophisticated phishing campaigns.

Furthermore, the use of deepfake technology and synthetic media has raised alarms at the U.S. government level, with warnings of their potential exploitation in various malicious endeavors, including business email compromise (BEC) attacks and cryptocurrency scams. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the evolving and pervasive nature of cyber threats in today’s digital landscape.

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