Cloud Malware: Types of Attacks and Security Measure

Sunny Samanta

6th Oct'21
Cloud Malware: Types of Attacks and Security Measure | OpenGrowth

Cloud computing is a technology that delivers computing services over the internet. The primary cloud computing services are storage, database, networking, servers, software, analytics, and intelligence. When it comes to cloud computing, cloud security becomes critical. Cloud security is always a challenging and complex subject for any cloud provider to manage. It is mainly because while the cloud providers can keep the infrastructure secure and well organized, the cloud user's lack of knowledge and misconfiguration could lead to malware injection attacks. Understanding the definition of cloud security will put you on firmer ground, and is something you should look into even if you are not professionally responsible for the technical implementation of remotely hosted IT assets. This foundational knowledge can in turn set you up to appreciate the nuances of malware threats in this brave new world of dispersed data protection.


What is Cloud Malware?

Cloud malware or malware in the cloud refers to the cyberattack on the cloud computing-based system with a malicious code and service. The cloud malware has made the various cloud-based systems ideal for cyber attacks. Following are the most common cloud-based systems that are prone to cloud-based systems:

  • Open cloud-based systems on the internet.

  • Standard and easy-to-learn cloud-based systems.

  • Cloud-based systems are made of many entities such as virtual machines (VMs), storage buckets, and containers.


The cloud computing systems are attacked with a cloud malware injection attack. Here a cyber attacker will try to inject a malicious service or virtual machine into the cloud-based system. As a result, it creates malicious service implementation modules or virtual machine instances related to either SaaS (Software as a service) or PaaS (Platform as a service), or IaaS (Infrastructure as a service).


Cloud Malware


Types of Cloud Malware Attacks

When it comes to cloud malware attacks, there are, essentially, five common types of it. Here you can learn about them one by one.

DDoS Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is a common type of attack in a cloud-based system. Here, cybercriminals use large-scale botnets to flood a network with malicious traffic that completely prevents or significantly slows down the cloud computing system. The botnets have increasingly become more accessible to attackers because of the millions of compromised devices. DDoS attacks usually occur in a public cloud, affecting an entire neighborhood part of its infrastructure. Furthermore, if the DDoS is left unchecked or unattended for some time, it can lead to attackers using cloud computing resources for criminal activities byaltering the cloud computing behaviors..

Hypercall Attacks

Hypercall attack is carried out in an intrusion manner. The attacker comes across as a guest who uses the hypercall interface provided by the hypervisor to request domain access from the host. The attacker here compromises an organization's VMs that uses the hypercall handler. Once the hypercall attacks are initiated, they can hinder the hosting hypervisors as its detection and prevention become difficult through the standard network security measures.

Hypervisor DoS

Hypervisor DoS (Denial of Service) is a common type of cloud malware attack carried out through hypervisor exploits. A hypervisor cyber attacker attacks the hypervisor space where it controls multiple VMs on a virtual host. The hypervisor Dos malware can affect all the VMs running on the host after the hypervisor gets infected.


For infecting a cloud computing-based system with a hypervisor DoS, the attacker must have control of the hypervisor. The attacker uses a rootkit installed on a VM (Virtual Machine) to attack to gain control over the hypervisor. Such attempts by cyber attackers are defined as hyperjacking. If an attacker successfully hyperjacks the power of the hypervisor, it can get control of the entire hosting. As a result, attackers can modify the behavior and cause damage to the virtual machines.

Exploiting Live Migration

Most cloud computing services allow live migration. Live migration is a process where a virtual machine or application can move between different physical devices without disconnection from the application or the client. Live migration, although practical, is a vulnerable process as it becomes susceptible to cloud malware attacks. Here the attackers can effectively invade an automated live migration and compromise its cloud management system to:

  • Create multiple fake migrations that can lead to a DoS attack.

  • Resources theft as the attacker can move the resources to a virtual network that is under their control.

  • Create changes in the migrated system and thus leave vulnerable for malware attacks in the future.


Cloud Malware


How to Prevent Cloud Malware?

As discussed above, there are five common types of cloud malware attacks possible in any cloud-based system. To prevent all of them, here are three ways to keep cloud computing systems clean.

Educate and Train Employees

The foremost reason for cloud malware is the lack of awareness of its possibilities. Operators and administrators who are unmindful of how cloud malware can cause extensive corruption or manipulate a cloud-based system are susceptible to cloud malware incidents. Corporates and companies must educate and further train their employees to identify the common security breaches and how they can correct them. Cloud systems employees should further partake in various cloud security, network, security, and enterprise application management to learn more about detecting and preventing cloud malware.

Strengthen Access Control

While the traditional cloud malware preventions are effective to an extent, rarely are they the ultimate solution. Therefore, an organization must adopt a "Zero Trust" model where any breach in the cloud-based system should lead to securing access to all cloud systems.

Practice User or Network Segmentation

Network segmentation is a highly effective way to ensure the spread of viruses is contained in the cloud. Network segmentation divides or limits, or isolates the malicious software to a small segment which is easier to deal with and clean the cloud computing system.


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A lone wolf by definition, a writer by heart, and a lost star with ambitions to light up the dark both inside and around me, sometimes by immersing myself into books or video games or traveling with a backpack to an uncertain destination believing that life is all about the choices we make and we don't.