Energy giant Shell discloses data breach caused by Accellion FTA hack

Pierluigi Paganini March 23, 2021

Oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) discloses a data breach resulting from the compromise of its Accellion File Transfer Appliance (FTA) file sharing service.

Energy giant Shell disclosed a data breach resulting from the compromise of an Accellion File Transfer Appliance (FTA) used by the company.

Shell is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company with more than 86,000 employees and mede US$180.5 billion in 2020.

According to a data breach notification published by the company on its website, the cyber attack did not affect its network, but it only impacted an Accellion FTA server .

“Shell has been impacted by a data security incident involving Accellion’s File Transfer Appliance. Shell uses this appliance to securely transfer large data files.” reads the data breach notification.

“Upon learning of the incident, Shell addressed the vulnerabilities with its service provider and cyber security team, and started an investigation to better understand the nature and extent of the incident,”

Shell reported the security breach to data authorities and regulators, and impacted individuals and stakeholders.

“There is no evidence of any impact to Shell’s core IT systems as the file transfer service is isolated from the rest of Shell’s digital infrastructure. The ongoing investigation has shown that an unauthorized party gained access to various files during a limited window of time.”

Since the disclosure of the vulnerabilities in Accellion FTA multiple cybercrime groups targeted organizations worldwide. In February, security experts from FireEye linked a series of cyber attacks against organizations running Accellion File Transfer Appliance (FTA) servers to the cybercrime group UNC2546, aka FIN11.

Once compromised the victims’ network, FIN11 hackers demanded the payment of a ransom in Bitcoin to avoid the leak of information on the leak site.

fin11 ransom note

The researchers are tracking two separate clusters of activities. The first cluster tracked as UNC2546 is related to the exploitation of the zero-day flaws in Accellion FTA software and data exfiltration from targeted organizations running the legacy FTA products. The second cluster, tracked as UNC2582, is related to the subsequent extortion activity.

“We have identified overlaps between UNC2582, UNC2546, and prior FIN11 operations, and we will continue to evaluate the relationships between these clusters of activity.” continues FireEye. 

FireEye pointed out that despite FIN11 hackers are publishing data from Accellion FTA customers on the Clop ransomware leak site, they did not encrypt systems on the compromised networks.

In response to the wave of attacks, the vendor has released multiple security patches to address the vulnerabilities exploited by the hackers. The company is also going to retire legacy FTA server software by April 30, 2021.

Accellion is urging customers to update to the Kiteworks product, which replaces FTA server.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Shell)

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