Feeds

Multi-site bug exposes cloud computing's dark lining

One vuln fits all

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More dark linings have been exposed in the cloud computing craze, this time by web security expert Russ McRee, who demonstrates how a flaw in a single provider can spell trouble for numerous customers it serves.

In this case, the provider is software-as-a-service, or SaaS, provider Baynote, which offers search and other online services for technology, ecommerce, and other types of websites. After McRee discovered an XSS, or cross-site scripting error, in a Baynote feature known as Social Search, he had all he needed to carry out attacks on a wide swath of the customers who used it.

The bug made exploitation the electronic equivalent of a paint-by-numbers exercise with http://[Insert customer here].com/socialsearch/query?cn=[customer]&cc=us&q= as the template. LSI Corporation, a maker of host bus adapters and other electronics, and data management provider NetApp, were just two of the Baynote customers who were made vulnerable, according to this video.

McRee stresses that Baynote "was responsive and fixed the issue quickly." But his discovery points out a potential Achilles Heel of cloud computing: An oversight by a single vendor creates a single point of failure that can have devastating effects on an untold number of its customers.

"Should that SaaS vendor have just one chink in their armor, perhaps a web application flaw, a lapse in network security, or a physical security indiscretion, its clients and their customers all share the same risk," he writes here. "An enterprise is only as strong as its weakest link, and if someone else is managing that link for you, you have some questions to ask before marrying your business to theirs."

This isn't the first time businesses have been warned about putting too many eggs in one basket. A Salesforce.com outage in January that left more than 900,000 customers without access to crucial data also demonstrates the risks of relying on a single provider.

It's not that cloud computing is automatically a bad idea, since outages and security flaws happen in-house too. Rather, SaaS can't be viewed as a panacea and due care must be taken to assess a provider's safety. Or, as McRee puts it: "Quite simply, SaaS vendors should be held to higher standards than traditional product providers." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.