The Ticketmaster Data Breach May Be Just the Beginning

One of the biggest hacks of the year may have started to unfold. Late on Friday, embattled events business Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, confirmed it suffered a data breach after criminal hackers claimed to be selling half a billion customer records online. Banking firm Santander also confirmed it had suffered a data breach impacting millions of customers and staff after its data was advertised by the same group of hackers.

While the specific circumstances of the breaches—including exactly what information was stolen and how it was accessed—remain unclear, the incidents may be linked to attacks against company accounts with cloud hosting provider Snowflake. The US-based cloud firm has thousands of customers, including Adobe, Canva, and Mastercard, which can store and analyze vast amounts of data in its systems.

Security experts say that as more details become clear about hackers’ attempts to access and take data from Snowflake’s systems, it is possible that other companies will reveal they had data stolen. At present, though, the developing situation is messy and complicated.

“Snowflake recently observed and is investigating an increase in cyber threat activity targeting some of our customers’ accounts,” Brad Jones, Snowflake’s chief information security officer wrote in a blog post acknowledging the cybersecurity incident on Friday. Snowflake has found a “limited number” of customer accounts that have been targeted by hackers who obtained their login credentials to the company’s systems, Jones wrote. Snowflake also found one former staff member’s “demo” account that had been accessed.

However, Snowflake doesn’t “believe” it was the source of any leaked customer credentials, the post says. “We have no evidence suggesting this activity was caused by any vulnerability, misconfiguration, or breach of Snowflake’s product,” Jones writes in the blog post.

While the number of Snowflake accounts accessed and what data may have been taken have not been released, government officials are warning about the impact of the attack. Australia’s Cyber Security Center issued a “high” alert on Saturday saying it is “aware of successful compromises of several companies utilizing Snowflake environments” and companies using Snowflake should reset their account credentials, turn on multi-factor authentication, and review user activity.

“It looks like Snowflake has had some rather egregiously bad security compromise,” security researcher Troy Hunt, who runs data breach notification website Have I Been Pwned, tells WIRED. “It being a provider to many other different parties, it has sort of bubbled up to different data breaches in different locations.”

Details of the data breaches started to emerge on May 27. A newly registered account on cybercrime forum Exploit posted an advertisement where they claimed to be selling 1.3 TB of Ticketmaster data, including more than 560 million people’s information. The hacker claimed to have names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, some credit card details, ticket sales, order details, and more. They asked for $500,000 for the database.

One day later, the established hacking group ShinyHunters—which first emerged in 2020 with a data-stealing rampage, before selling 70 million AT&T records in 2021—posted the exact same Ticketmaster ad on rival marketplace BreachForums. At the time, Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation had not confirmed any data theft and it was unclear if either post selling the data was legitimate.

On May 30, ShinyHunters also claimed to be selling 30 million customer details and staff information from Santander, putting a $2 million price tag on the information. Both posts on BreachForums have drawn attention to the illegal marketplace, which was recently revived by ShinyHunters after the FBI took the website down on May 15. The posts may, at least in part, be efforts to restore the disrupted forum’s damaged reputation with criminals.

The two hacks were linked to Snowflake’s systems by Israeli security firm Hudson Rock, which, in a now-removed blog post, posted conversations its researchers had with the alleged hacker who claimed to have accessed Snowflake’s systems and exfiltrated data. The hacker claimed they had tried to sell the data back to Snowflake for $20 million. (Hudson Rock did not respond to WIRED’s questions about why it has removed its research).

The Hudson Rock post claimed a Snowflake employee may have been infected by an infostealer that collected the details the hacker needed to login to its systems. Charles Carmakal, the chief technology officer at Google-owned security firm Mandiant, told BleepingComputer that its investigations, which have been taking place in recent weeks, indicate information-stealing malware may have been used to get Snowflake account credentials.

A Ticketmaster spokesperson told TechCrunch that its stolen database was hosted on Snowflake after the company acknowledged a data breach in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday evening. In the middle of May, before its data was advertised online, Santander first said it had seen unauthorized access to one of its databases “hosted by a third-party provider,” however it has refused to name the third party.

Snowflake’s CISO, Jones, acknowledged the security incident on Friday, saying that if a “threat actor obtains customer credentials, they may be able to access the account.” The company says it became aware of the suspicious activity on May 23 but has since found out it had been happening since mid-April. Jones’ post says Snowflake has notified all of its customers and “encouraged” them to review account settings and ensure they have implemented multi-factor authentication. In an additional security bulletin, Snowflake says it has seen “malicious traffic” from a client calling itself “rapeflake” and also connections from another client called “DBeaver_DBeaverUltimate.” A company spokesperson tells WIRED they have “nothing else to add” beyond the information included in company posts.

Cloud security company Mitiga says its investigations have seen a threat actor targeting organizations using Snowflake databases and using an attack tool called “​​rapeflake” in the process. Roei Sherman, field CTO at Mitiga, tells WIRED one possible scenario is that a threat actor managed to get information about Snowflake’s systems and then stole information about its clients, possibly using automated tools and brute-forcing their way into accounts.

Sherman says little is known about what data was stolen at the moment or the “​​rapeflake” tool, but that the attack could have wider ramifications going forward. There are already early signs other companies may be impacted.

Sherman says some of Mitiga’s customers have reached out to it for help, while Mandiant told BleepingComputer it had been assisting Snowflake customers in recent weeks. Cybersecurity researcher Kevin Beaumont shared online that he knows of six companies that have been impacted. And Australian events company Ticketek has also revealed customer names and email addresses stored in a “cloud-based platform, hosted by a reputable, global third party supplier” have been accessed, although a spokesperson refused to confirm if this was related to Snowflake at all.

“We haven’t seen the entire blast radius yet,” Sherman says. “Snowflake has thousands of clients—they offer self-registration—and some of their clients are huge companies. We expect to learn about additional companies compromised.”


About Michael Zotos 468 Articles
Founder and owner of Media LLC, a multimedia content creator for a variety of national plus local print & electronic media affiliates.