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    Attackers used a combination of stolen passwords for European supercomputers

    The supercomputers that were disconnected from the network last week are only gradually reconnecting. Upon request, the data center in Scotland and Germany announced that log ins would initially only be permitted during normal operating hours, in order to be able to guarantee the increased monitoring requirements.

    Combined Multiple Vulnerabilities For Attack

    Supercomputers centers across the country had their systems taken down in mid May after the attack became known. In addition to high-performance computers, all members of the partnership for advanced computing in Europe network were affected while those responsible are still covering themselves and have not released any information about the major attack.

    The Attackers Combined Two Vulnerabilities

    On the one hand, they used compromised user accounts on external systems whose private keys were configured with an empty passphrase. On the other hand, as the centre informed its users, they used an error in the software that can be used to obtain administration rights after regular login.Those responsible still do not know anything about the specific goals, but ask their users to report any suspicious things.

    New Passwords And Keys Needed

    Like several other high performance data centers affected, the European based company has called on all users to renew passwords and secure shell keys. The users were asked to generate new key pairs, whereby it is essential to ensure that no empty passphrase is assigned to the private key on the computer from which the login is made. In addition, all users of the cluster systems must insert key-specific from clauses into their authorized keys file, in order to restrict access to the external systems that are actually required.

    Many questions remain unanswered in what is probably the biggest attack on the supercomputers network in Europe to date. Which software bug allowed the attackers to gain administrator rights? In the end, one will also have to ask how the answer to such a networked attack must be coordinated.

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