Cloud technology and services recently became the most exciting piece of technology available on the market. Economic experts have determined that the focus on Azure cloud services by Microsoft was responsible for its return to power after failing with the Nokia smartphone product line. Microsoft also broke the 1 trillion dollar market cap in the first quarter of 2019, and this success is also attributed to its all-in-cloud-services strategy.
Cloud services suddenly became a massive success as mobile and desktop users began to demand an easily accessible backup to ensure the safety of files and documents. The second breakthrough for cloud services came in the form of software-as-a-service. With this system in place, users can access product features that are not installed on their computers.
Other innovative technology that came up in the last two years, such as CRM, app building platforms, and ERP software, became integrated with cloud options. The integration with cloud increased compatibility for further integrations, optimized data sharing, enhanced service access from multiple devices, and improved security of stored documents and data. The unprecedented success recorded by the cloud campaign was such that numerous cloud platforms emerged at the same time.
The cloud service providers came to a consensus, and they touted that cloud platforms were foolproof and completely secure. The platform’s infrastructure was designed to ensure the utmost safety of user accounts without compromising services. If you use a cloud service, you must believe that clouds are untouchable, free from illegal access or bugs. If you do, the following might just burst your bubble.
In January, Check Point Software Technologies reported they had discovered a flaw in the Microsoft Azure Cloud platform. The report said that the flaw, if exploited would be used to break through the safety systems set up between users and services. The breach would also allow hackers to insert illegal applications and bots into the server. If this action is ever successful, a hacker would be able to access the files and documents stored on other users’ sandbox accounts.
They would also be able to isolate and control a server, shutting it down or executing nefarious codes and commands. Worse still is that this breach would be almost impossible to detect. The second flaw was detected in Azure Stack, which compromised the safety of personal data stored on the platform. Azure Stacks is the on-premises module of Azure, and checkpoint discovered a vulnerability in its Data Service function. The vulnerability allowed hackers to subvert the authentication process to steal data and sensitive information about users on the platform, using screenshots.
The report made by Yaniy Balmas, the head of cybersecurity research at Check Point, noted one relevant nature of the flaws. He said that the flaws where present, compromised how Microsoft .Net programming codes isolated applications and services on the cloud platform. The most reliable security perimeter on the cloud platform was its isolation structure.
While this ensured that users could access only features that they needed and asked for at a time, it also meant that other applications did not work unless that were called for and passed the authentication phase. User files and data were also protected by this sandbox infrastructure that ensured a user could only access his account and not the accounts of other users that are even present on the same server.
By breaking the sandbox infrastructure applications and virtual machines could be run without submitting to any authentication or even monitoring procedures. Thus, a hacker could install malware and viruses to steal data and attack hardware by breaking into the accounts of other users and stealing typically restricted access and privileges.
Microsoft immediately released patches to fix the flaw and restore the integrity of the system. Check Point has been instrumental in avoiding a calamity, as users numbering in the hundreds of thousands have put their faith in Azure’s ‘Perfect’ security firewall. Balmas also noted that the .Net programming language would always put the security of any platform it is used to create a risk.
This risk is inherent in the fact that the platform is a massive structure that manages and executes codes at runtime. The presence of a flaw is almost always guaranteed. When one considers that anything developed by human hands, especially at such a massive scale would have one or two holes and imperfections, it becomes obvious why there must be a flaw. It also becomes apparent why institutions like Check Point must not relent in testing the security of public platforms.
Although public clouds are indeed safer than most on-premise infrastructure, it is not a symbol of perfection. On-premise platforms usually suffer more breaches from members who compromise safety protocols or sabotage local systems. Still, cloud service providers should not ignore improving and upgrading security protocols at every turn.
As technology and security systems are growing, the same way cybercriminals are getting access to better tools and information about computer systems and platforms. It is a race with no finish in view. As the internet and online services continue to integrate with our daily lives, our dependence on access to online services increases the importance of protecting platforms such as Azure Cloud.
Traditionally, large corporations like Microsoft employ their security teams to test their networks and services. These teams are responsible for regular upgrades and patches to fix glitches and errors that were discovered in the system after a successful product launch. Many times the workload is too much and sometimes too costly for a single team to execute.
Also, management wants to see results (which they also don’t want to see), but find it hand to justify the costs. External researchers like Check Point thrive by testing massive, handmade platforms with a high-security risk. When a security risk is detected, the service provider is notified, and a sizable ‘bounty’ or ‘finder’s fee’ provided the cybersecurity research team.
A more optimal system would involve IT giants cooperating to create a joint task force of sorts. This level of cooperation, while it would require massive funding and numerous concessions, would ensure that public platforms are more secure. For now, Check Point has cashed its $45,000 finder’s fee, and Azure Cloud is better off for it.
There is nothing much better than having a perfect Microsoft Azure that will be difficult for hackers to crack. It will be more reliable and enable users to be rest assured that hackers won’t have access to their applications anymore.