Threat actors are scanning the internet for API tokens, passwords, and database logins that are usually used to store ENV files (Environment files) accidentally left exposed online.
Environment files are configuration files that usually contain user environment variables for multiple frameworks and development tools such as Docker, Node.js, Django, and Symfony.
Obviously these files should not be exposed online without any protection.
Upon discovering unprotected ENV files exposed online, threat actors will download them to access their content and us it attacks.
The scanning activities observed by several security experts are likely operated through botnets designed to search for these specific files and gather sensitive information that could be used by threat actors for multiple malicious activities.
Researchers from security firm Greynoise have reported that thousand of IP addresses have been involved in mass scanning operations aimed at discovering ENV files in the last three years. Experts reported that most of the IP addresses are in the United States, followed by Germany and France.
According to Greynoise, more than 1,000 scans have been observed over the past month.
A similar activity was reported by researchers from threat intelligence firm Bad Packets:
The lesson learned is to never expose online ENV files if we don’t want to make a gift to the attackers.
(SecurityAffairs – hacking, botnet)