At the Black Hat USA 2022 conference, IBM today revealed it is making available a toolkit for launching simulated attacks against source code management (SCM) platforms. The toolkit was launched as a proof-of-concept.
Brett Hawkins, head of adversary simulation for the X-Force Red arm of IBM Security, said the SCMKit takes advantage of the REST application programming interface (API) functionality in most SCM platforms to launch various types of attack modules using validated SCM platform credentials. IBM also described a series of attack scenarios that the simulation tool can be used to launch.
The SCMKit can currently launch simulated attacks against GitHub Enterprise, GitLab Enterprise and Bitbucket Server. The kit can support reconnaissance, privilege escalation and persistence attack module capabilities for creating personal access tokens or secure socket shell (SSH) keys. The SCMKit is based on a modular framework that makes it possible to add additional modules in the future, added Hawkins.
IBM created the SCMKit to focus more attention on an attack vector that can be exploited to compromise a software supply chain, said Hawkins. In the wake of a series of high-profile security breaches, the Biden administration issued an executive order that required federal agencies to review the security of their software supply chains. While there is more awareness of the issue than ever, Hawkins noted there has not been nearly as much focus on identifying specific attack vectors against SCM platforms that cybercriminals are able to exploit.
It’s not clear to what degree organizations are launching penetration tests against their preferred SCM platform as they work to secure software supply chains. However, it won’t be long before testing the security integrity of those platforms becomes more commonplace. In some instances, organizations will launch those tests themselves. In other cases, third-party IT services firms will be tasked with launching those tests.
Of course, the challenge is that penetration testing techniques are also often used by cybercriminals to conduct reconnaissance. The SCMKit doesn’t uncover any new techniques, but it does provide cybercriminals with a guide for launching attacks against SCM platforms. As such, IT organizations should assume these types of attacks will increase in frequency in the months ahead.
Regardless of the tool employed, it’s clear that cybercriminals have come to appreciate the fact that software supply chains are the soft underbelly of IT. Organizations today have typically focused most of their security efforts on production environments. However, malware inserted into, say, a software repository could easily find its way into multiple downstream applications. At some future date, the malware then reaches out to a command-and-control system that then enables cybercriminals to, for example, launch a ransomware attack or simply exfiltrate data. That malware could also move laterally across an application environment to wreak additional havoc.
It may be a while before the full extent of the threat to application security is fully appreciated, but as more organizations embrace DevSecOps best practices to secure their software supply chain, it’s all but certain that penetration testing will become much more pervasive in DevOps environments.