60 Days of Watching Hackers Attack Elasticsearch


Two months ago, one of my DigitalOcean instances started attacking another host with massive amounts of bogus traffic. I was notified by the abuse team at DO that my VPS was participating in a DDoS attack. I managed to track down that the attackers leveraged an RCE vulnerability in Elasticsearch to automatically download and run malware.

After re-building the box from scratch (with many improvements!), I created a honeypot called Elastichoney to measure how much this vulnerability is being exploited in the wild. Since then, I’ve had multiple sensors silently logging all attempts to exploit this vulnerability.

Here are the results.

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Remote Code Execution in Elasticsearch - CVE-2015-1427

TL;DR If you have an elasticsearch instance that is publicly available, upgrade to 1.4.3 or later now.

Elasticsearch (the “E” in ELK) is a full-text search engine that makes data aggregation and querying easy. It has an extensive JSON API that allows everything from searching to system management. This post will show how a new vulnerability, CVE-2015-1427, allows attackers to leverage features of this API to gain unauthenticated remote code execution (RCE).

Much of the analysis discovering this vulnerability was originally found on a blog post here (translated). This post aims to translate and provide more detail on the vulnerability.

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